I’m seeing a bunch of people saying Shortcuts are a power user-only feature. “No normal person will ever use these!” In their WWDC keynote, I think Apple leaned too hard into what Shortcuts can do for power users, and people lost the message that these are something users will benefit from even if they do zero work to set them up. Let me explain.
This is the best and most understandable overview of the Shortcuts feature coming in iOS 12, and explains how even “regular” users can utilize them. The article is worth a full read. If you aren’t someone who gets excited about the news coming out of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, you may not have heard about Shortcuts, an upcoming automation tool/framework/feature in iOS 12. Birchler also has a podcast on the topic that is next up in my feed.
Stationery Pad is a handy way to nix a step in your workflow if you regularly use document templates on your Mac. The long-standing Finder feature essentially tells a file’s parent application to open a copy of it by default, ensuring that the original file remains unedited.
Follow the link for a way to set any file on your Mac to be a template file, so you don’t overwrite it. I don’t feel bad for not knowing about this trick, since I’ve never heard it discussed, and since the name doesn’t really describe what it does. On the other hand, I feel stupid for never wondering what that checkbox does. This will be very handy for automation tools like Keyboard Maestro.
I have set up my firm’s case management system to email me three reports every Sunday evening. These reports arrive as attachments to email. For several months, I’ve been coming in on Monday morning and dragging those reports out of Mail and into Unclutter, which I keep in my Mac menu bar so I have easy access to certain files. I recently decided I would automate this process.
Looking around online, I found several AppleScripts purporting to accomplish this, but I wanted to see if I could accomplish this with Keyboard Maestro. I ended up doing it with Keyboard Maestro and Automator.
My Automator workflow, as depicted below, is pretty simple. It finds any email in my inbox that meets two conditions:
The subject of the email must begin with words that are specific to the report emails; and
The emails must have been sent in the last two days.
If those conditions are met, Automator gets the attachments from those messages and saves those attachments into the same Dropbox folder used by Unclutter to hold files. (I don’t know if I actually need the second step in the workflow).
Then it was simply a matter of setting up a Keyboard Maestro macro that would launch the Automator workflow every Monday before I arrived at the office.
The final step for me was to create a rule in Hazel to monitor Unclutter, and clean out old reports every week.
Caveat: I just set up this system yesterday, and forced it to run out of its normal schedule. It worked fine. I’ll see this Sunday evening whether it runs on the schedule I designated.
Here are links to the Automator workflow and Keyboard Maestro macro:
Things 3.4 has just hit the store with three fantastic new features: Linking to Things, Powerful Automation, and Handover from other apps – all made possible by our brand new Things URLs.
Wow. From hooking Things into Drafts, Workflow, Launcher, Mindnode, and more, the possibilities of this are exciting. Things used to be the app that was beautiful, but not as powerful as OmniFocus. Now . . . we’ll have to see after everyone has played with these new features for a while. I’ve been working on a video on using Things and DEVONthink together. This might require me to rework a few things.
A link post is a type of post common on many blogs, including here at 40Tech, where the post links to a story on another site. The purpose of a link post is to say to the reader, “Hey, here’s a good story.” Often the post adds a few words of commentary. The post on sharing your WiFi credentials with a QR code was an example of a link post.
I’ve recently come up with an easy way create a link post on 40Tech using Ulysses and the Workflow app on iOS. I copy the author’s name to the clipboard, select the text I want to quote, and run the workflow via Safari’s share sheet. The workflow prompts me for the name of the other site, before opening Ulysses with my post almost all ready to go. All that’s left for me to do in Ulysses is add some comments, pick my tags and categories, and publish the post.
Behind the Scenes
Here’s what happens, mostly behind the scenes, in the Workflow app:
After Workflow asks me to type the name of the publication, it sets it as a variable;
Workflow gets the clipboard contents (which should be the author’s name, if you copied the name to your clipboard as I explained above), changes it to title case in the event that it isn’t properly capitalized, and sets it as a variable;
Workflow gets the URL from the Safari web page, as well as the text I selected on the page;
Workflow puts together the pieces and creates the text for the post; and
Workflow opens Ulysses with the text as a new sheet.
In the first part of step 4, above, Workflow creates a header tag (#) followed by the name of the story as a clickable link. That’s because Ulysses will take the URL that follows a header tag in the first line and add it as a “linked_list_url” custom field on my WordPress blog. That’s what makes the title of my link posts clickable, and sends you to the other site when you click the title.
Here is a screenshot of the entire workflow:
Here is a link to download the complete workflow in the Workflow directory. I realize the final two steps could probably be redone using a “New Ulysses Sheet” action, but this is working so I’m not messing with it. If you are going to use the workflow yourself, you’ll need to change the path at the end of the second-to-last step to point to a group that already exists in your Ulysses setup (mine points to 40Tech > Linked).
My link post workflow on iOS is now almost as efficient as it is on Mac. More on my Mac workflow soon.