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Category: automation (page 1 of 4)

The Friction of an iPad for the Middle User →

Gabe Weatherhead at Macdrifter:

I don’t count bloggers and podcasters as normal iPad users. There’s a different kind of drive for these folks. Part of that drive is being able to write about their impressive accomplishments with an iPad. That will always take some of the sting out of losing hours trying to figure out how to upload a file to a website.

Gabe Weatherhead was writing about a post by Thomas Verschoren, who highlights some of the limitations of iOS. Weatherhead’s comment got me thinking about how iOS usually satisfies the needs of power users and basic users, but not those in the middle. Power users cook up workflows with tools like the Shortcuts app to overcome almost any hurdle, and casual users never run into those hurdles in the first place.

It’s the people in between who need to get over those hurdles, and don’t want to build a tool or workflow to do so. They just want something that works. The iPad won’t be a laptop replacement for those users until those gaps are filled.

Most users aren’t like us. They don’t want to have to build a workflow that, in their eyes, is a Rube Goldberg machine. Most of my automation workflows on the Mac are to speed up processes I can already perform without automation. Too many of my automation workflows on iOS are to perform tasks I couldn’t otherwise perform at all. 1


  1. Siri Shortcuts, not to be confused with the Shortcuts app, is the exception to this.


Finally Making Sense of Magic Variables in the Shortcuts App →

Dr. Drang:

All those green bubbles come from a single Magic Variable and its many parts. I’m going to show how to put them together—partly because it might help you, but mostly in the hope that doing this will reinforce the use of Magic Variables with me.

The introduction of Magic Variables in version 1.7 of the Workflow app was supposed to make the use of variables easier. Magic Variables never clicked with me, though, probably because I never spent the time to understand them. I finally grasp how to use them, thanks to this post by Dr. Drang. If you want to use Magic Variables in the Shortcuts app (the successor to the Workflow app), Dr. Drang’s post is a great place to start.


Apple Frames: A Shortcut for Framing Screenshots from Every Apple Device →

Federico Viticci writing for MacStories:

When I published my iPhone XS Frames shortcut two weeks ago, I noted that my goal was to eventually support screenshots and device templates from other Apple devices, starting with the Apple Watch and MacBook Pro. After two weeks spent rebuilding the shortcut and asking Silvia to prepare several more templates, I’m happy to re-introduce my shortcut as the new and improved Apple Frames – a comprehensive custom shortcut to frame screenshots taken on every Apple device. Well, at least most of the current ones that the company is still selling.

Stop looking for a way to create nicely framed screenshots for Apple devices, and just use this. I used the previous incarnation for iPhone screenshots, and it was fantastic. I could lament the absence of support for the 15 inch MacBook Pro, but that would be greedy. This is a completely free tool, and a good example of what you often can find at MacStories, and its subscription service, Club MacStories.


7 Sources for Ready-Made iOS Shortcuts

With the release of iOS 12, the Shortcuts app was released into the wild. Unlike Siri Shortcuts, through which you can assign simple voice commands to frequently used actions on your device,1 the Shortcuts app empowers you to build simple and complex automated workflows with a building block interface.

If you are intrigued by the power of the Shortcuts app, or you just want some inspiration, you’re in luck. Like the communities around other automation tools, Shortcuts users are generous with their creations and have shared their shortcuts online in several locations. Here are the seven best places I’ve found so far for downloading shortcuts:

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  1. Yes, I know that’s a gross oversimplification.


Use LaunchBar to Toggle Dark Mode in Mojave


NightOwl is a menu bar app to help you quickly toggle Mojave’s dark mode on and off. But I f your menu bar is already too cluttered, or if you prefer keeping your hands on the keyboard, you can set up your own tool to accomplish this instead. To do so, you need a program that can invoke an AppleScript, such as LaunchBar. I’ve set forth the steps for creating this below, but you can jump to the end of this post if you only want to download the Actions and don’t care how they’re made.

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