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.
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.
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.
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.