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iOS Meeting Templates Shortcut

When I meet with new clients, I typically take typewritten notes in the Drafts app on my iPad, using a template/checklist of topics I’ve created. In the past, I generated this checklist in Drafts via TextExpander, but I now trigger the template via a shortcut in iPadOS’s native Shortcuts app. I run the shortcut just before the meeting, and it automatically pulls the title of the meeting from my calendar, and puts that title at the start of a new note in Drafts. The shortcut inserts the date below the title, followed by my checklist/template.

I’m actually using three shortcuts to accomplish this, but they automatically run as one.1

Shortcut #1 – The “Launch” Shortcut

This first shortcut is the shortcut I run to start the whole process. It prompts me for the type of case my meeting will cover. Right now, I’ve only set up two case types, but I will be adding more in the future. The shortcut looks like this:
New Client shortcut screenshot

When run, this shortcut has a popup with two case types (“MVA” or “Misc”). I tap one, and my answer will determine which of two embedded shortcuts will run next as Shortcut #2 – either the “New MVA” shortcut or the “New Misc” shortcut (see below for these). Each of those two shortcuts creates a different template in Drafts.

Shortcut #2 – The Template Creation Shortcut

As mentioned, Shortcut #1 will run one of two “template creation” shortcuts, depending on the type of case I pick in the popup. So, for example, if I choose the “Misc” option when running Shortcut #1, it runs the following shortcut to fill out my template in a new Drafts note: 2
New Misc shortcut screenshot

This shortcut does three things:

  • The first step of the shortcut (i.e., the first block of the shortcut, above) runs Shortcut #3, spelled out below, to get the title of my next calendar event.
  • The second step of the shortcut contains the text I want to appear as my template in a new Drafts note. The first line of this step pulls the name of the calendar event from the block above it. The second line calculates the current date and time. The third line contains the text/template I want in my Drafts note. I haven’t expanded the second step in the screenshot, since this will be different for everyone.
  • The third step (i.e., block) of the shortcut creates the note in Drafts, containing all of the text from the preceding step.

Shortcut #3 – Get the Title of My Next Calendar Event

The final piece of the puzzle, as mentioned above, is triggered in the first step of Shortcut #2. That first step runs a shortcut (“Get title of next calendar event”) that pulls the title of my next calendar event from my work calendar. It looks like this:

Shortcut to get title of next calendar event

The End Product

The end product lets me tap the “New Client” shortcut (Shortcut #1, above) to start the process. I’m then prompted for the type of case. Depending on my selection, a Drafts note is created containing one of two templates. That note automatically contains the appointment title at the top, followed by the current date and time, followed by the template. This all happens within a second or two.

Downloads

Here are links to download all three shortcuts:

New Client shortcut (shortcut #1)

New Misc shortcut (shortcut #2)

Get Title of Next Calendar Event shortcut (shortcut #3)


  1. I’m using three shortcuts, instead of combining them into a single shortcut, so I can reuse/embed the shortcuts in other shortcuts. This is done within a shortcut by using the “Run Shortcut” action.

  2. The “New MVA” shortcut is identical, except for the text in the second step.


Dark Mode on 40Tech

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally implemented dark mode on 40Tech. I started working on this a few months ago, and it was my use of dark mode on iOS in bed at night that spurred me to take the extra couple of minutes and finish this off. It is tied to your system setting, rather than being a site-specific option. If you visit 40Tech with dark mode enabled on your system, you should see a darker version of the site. Future tweaks may be coming, as I’m not entirely thrilled with the color scheme.

Thanks to a tweet by Matt Bircher and a post from Andy Nicolaides at The Dent for pointing me in the right direction. My theme ended up being more complicated than I hoped, requiring a fair amount of tweaking.


watchOS 6: The BirchTree Review →

Matt Birchler at BirchTree:

watchOS 6 is not a massive update to the platform, and you will likely use your watch in largely the same way you always have, but there are some new apps, nice usability updates, no real regressions, and frameworks that will allow third party apps to get better in the future. Basically, it won’t all change your life, but there is probably at least one or two things that you’ll really enjoy in this new update.

The always-on display isn’t the only new feature of watchOS 6, and Matt’s review is a good look at the major new features for those who want to read a thorough review, but can’t afford to take half a day off work to do so.


DEVONthink 3 Review, From a Lawyer’s Perspective

Readers of this blog know how important DEVONthink is to my workflow. I use it as a central repository on my Mac for almost every piece of information in my professional and personal life, including as a place to store personal and business records, deposition data, jury verdict reports, legal research, trial notebooks, and more. I’ve been using DEVONthink 2 for over 7 years, during which time the program has seen frequent updates and improvements. Now, though, DEVONtechnologies has released an entirely new version of DEVONthink for the Mac.

Read more


10 Years of 40Tech

I must not be big on anniversaries, because I completely missed the 10 year anniversary of this site. A “Coming Soon” post went live on May 28, 2009, with the first substantive post going up on June 4, 2009. I remember sitting at the table at my sister’s beach house that May with my laptop and finding the domain name after deciding I wanted to do this. I never thought I’d still be writing, albeit sporadically, 10 years later.

I probably should have some deep thoughts about the anniversary, from years of crazy traffic (by my standards) and coverage on big sites, to the more cozy, personal place this is today, but all I have to say is yay, and thanks for reading. And a special shout out to Bobby Travis, who wrote with me in those early years. This site has opened some doors for me, and has been loads of fun.