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Category: Workflow app

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.


Understanding Shortcuts in iOS 12 →

Matt Birchler writing for Birchtree.me:

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.


Using the Workflow App on My iPad to Control My Desk Phone

A simple change in scenery can do wonders for productivity. For me that sometimes means sitting in a recliner in the corner of my office, using my MacBook and my office phone headset to make and receive calls. That’s possible because my firm’s VOIP phone service, Mitel, offers a Mac app that lets me trigger outgoing calls on my office phone. As long as I have my MacBook and telephone headset with me, my actual telephone unit can be across the office.

This process doesn’t work if I want to use my iPad to initiate calls. The Mitel iOS app won’t trigger calls on another device, such as my office phone. Not to be deterred, I put together a workflow to accomplish this. It sounds much more complicated (and much slower) than it really is.

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Link Post Workflow with Ulysses and Workflow on iOS

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:

  1. After Workflow asks me to type the name of the publication, it sets it as a variable;
  2. 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;
  3. Workflow gets the URL from the Safari web page, as well as the text I selected on the page;
  4. Workflow puts together the pieces and creates the text for the post; and
  5. 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.


Clip from Safari (iOS) to DEVONthink (Mac)

Workflow to dropbox to devonthink

Since I first wrote about using DEVONthink Pro Office in my law practice, I’ve increasingly been using it for additional work projects. I’m currently preparing a case for trial, and have copied all of the documents and research for that case into DEVONthink, so it is easily accessible. I’d like my research to be in DEVONthink, too, which led me to figure out how to clip webpages from Safari on iOS into DEVONthink on my Mac. Here’s how I did it, using the Workflow app for iOS, and Hazel on the Mac.

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