All in with Apple Productivity Apps (Mail, Notes, Reminders, Calendar)

Do you have any examples of shortcuts using templates?

There kind of is a way to duplicate notes on iOS using a shortcut as well - simply accept (formatted) text via the Share Sheet and create a new note from that input

In the notes app select your template note, select option to send a copy and select your shortcut - voilà. Downside is that this process does not seem to copy all formatting such as checkboxes :pensive: .

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Great idea but the fact is I’ve not taken time to learn how to use shortcuts. With zero coding/programming experience I am only able to create the most rudimentary shortcuts. I suspect this is something I need to remedy at some point. :slightly_smiling_face:

@logic2design may have a better route, but this is a pretty neat solution that I’m going to try myself and could be adapted:

Automatically adding the date to the title is helpful.

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I use the date in reminders to specify when I will do something. So, for example, I have five tasks with today’s date I.e., five tasks I plan to do today. I don’t use dates much beyond this, save a few with future dates.

Some tasks have actual fixed deadlines. So I might be doing a task today that isn’t actually due for 2 weeks but I want to get it out of the way. Or I might be doing a task today that was due a week ago. Where there is a fixed deadline I put the date in the task title: “05/03/22 Submit paper on Divine Hiddenness”. I don’t have a huge number of tasks with hard deadlines, so it’s easy to pick them up in weekly reviews. I could use tagging and a smart list if I wanted to keep a better watch on them.

You would have to do that manually (due date in the title, and add the start date to the task the appropriate number of days before).

Without scripting that would be difficult to achieve in any automated fashion with Reminders alone. There is no concept of duration or start/finish or planned/actual dates. You would be finding workarounds constantly which would hinder, rather than help, your workflow - there are probably better applications to use.

My task management is pretty straightforward. (Although I do have an app on my phone that shows a widget with countdowns for some key tasks/events - separate to Reminders!)

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I have a few Shortcuts I am working on to create Notes.

Here is the output of a work in progress to convert my Obsidian Daily Journal entry to Apple Notes

The Shortcut will create a new note in a folder called Journal. If the note already exists for the day it will add a new Timestamp & Weather entry so I can record a call, observation etc
Another example is a Shortcut that creates a daily Standup Report. This report includes responses to question prompts and auto-populates completed and open Reminders tasks (using a Work tag filter) and shows meetings scheduled in my Work Calendar. The output from the Shortcut can be shared to Email, Messages, Notes etc.

I am actually on a kick at the moment to revert to using Apple’s apps wherever possible. With the advent of Shortcuts going cross-platform, I am looking to enhance Apple’s productivity apps by replicating and improving on third-party app features. Mail is my next focus as I want to remove plugins causing issues but retain their features wherever possible.

Anyway, if anyone wants any assistance or further details of the above routines, give me a shout.


I too would like to do this but as my employer is all in on M365, I’m using To Do but much the same way as you are all using Reminders (where it aligns, of course)

@logic2design I’m going to steal your stand up template, if that’s okay. Good headings and format. Simple but effective.

@nationalinterest I like the idea of start date in the title with due date listed as … when it’s due! I generally tag items with time expected to take e.g. #45 is a 45 min task and I can filter by duration to see what I can do in the time available when major tasks have come to a natural end for the day. I’ll make the start date a tag as well. Hopefully I can search by multiple tags in To Do (don’t think Reminders can (or it couldn’t a while a go))

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Generally, I find the Apple default apps to be overly simplistic and missing features. So why do I use them? Mostly because they work very well within the Apple ecosystem (which I am all in.)

The main reason that I like the default Apple apps such as Reminders (which I use a lot) - is the simplicity of adding items using Siri commands and dictation.

For me, I do not like text typing on the iPhone - so it is a great benefit to be able to say things like:

  • Remind me tomorrow at 2 pm to do XXX
  • Create new Note … add text
  • Create new event for Next Monday at 9 am


Apple Reminders items are cumbersome to manage so I use GoodTask App

… which reads the Apple Reminders database and has many features to speed things up.

My 2 cents - Dave


This is one of those features that I was thinking of when I mentioned that the default apps are missing features I’d like to have. Having used both OF and Things I miss the defer/when date. But, I found that I can use either a flag or a priority setting in Reminders to do what I need. This will not work for everyone but here is a typical scenario for me and how I handled this in Reminders.

I have a significant report, proposal or presentation due on day x. It will take several weeks to complete. In Reminders I:

  • Flag the item. Flagged items mean I need to be working on them. I don’t flag them until it is time to begin work on them.
  • I set a due date a few days before I have to distribute the report or give the presentation
  • I do my daily and weekly reviews religiously

  • I block deep work time on the calendar for the project.

In short, by flagging tasks I know I need to begin work on them until the due date of a few days before the absolute due date. The daily and weekly review plus time blocking for these projects keeps me on task and current. I’ve never dropped a ball or missed a due date–yet! :crossed_fingers:t3:

PS: I have also created a couple of Smart Lists that help with this.

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Great idea. Is there a way to use an OR statement in a Smart list? I was thinking that it would be good to see all items due this week and all flagged items. (Smart list statements: All items in next 7 days or flagged).

I use Mail, but have added the Mailbutler plug in to it. I appreciate that I can use Mail to access my personal and work emails with little to no problem. It wasn’t always my favorite, but it’s grown on me and is pretty stable.

On my iOS devices, I use Calendar and Fantastical, but on my Mac I use BusyCal. I find it a little better at dealing with multiple kinds of calendars than the stock app. To keep my family up to date on my life, I also copy most of my work appointments to a family calendar and it’s easier to copy and change a calendar item in BusyCal than Calendar. In fact, I tried doing it in Calendar once (thinking I’d finally ditch BusyCal after I’d switched back to Mail) and when I copied one of my work meetings, before I could switch the calendar (from work to the family shared calendar), it sent a message to everyone else who’d confirmed attendance at the meeting (I wasn’t the hose, no idea why it did that), so I haven’t done any heavy lifting on Calendar since then.

I don’t really like Notes. I’ve moved to doing most of my “notes” type work in Drafts and Obsidian. The formatting of Notes bugs the crap out of me. I’d rather have plaintext or markdown any day of the week. I like the idea of notes synching between devices, but the functionality doesn’t always work. I do use it for a few things, typically family related, but it doesn’t do any heavy lifting at all.

I haven’t invested in Reminder at all. I’d like to - I have and use OmniFocus and Due, but don’t get nearly as much out of OF as I could/should. After listening to an older episode of MPU, I’m thinking I can probably use GoodTask and move away from OmniFocus, but haven’t taken the time to learn it yet.

I also have a bias toward plain/markdown text notes. However, I often need to attach PDFs, images, etc., to my notes. I also find myself needing tables. While one can create tables in markdown it is a pain overall. One can also add files and images in programs like Obsidian but again, in my opinion it is cluttered and a comparatively messy affair to do so. Notes isn’t perfect but is easier to use given my needs. And, the ability to use the Exporter app to export my notes as markdown and the option of using DEVONthink to convert any needed Apple Notes to other formats, including markdown, makes the Notes app very serviceable. I also find myself using the Quick Note feature a lot.

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Yes that is correct. I do not use a due date as a “Defer/Start/When” date. I use Flagging or the High Priority setting for this purpose—I’m still deciding which I think works best. However, I do not use that process for all tasks with a deadline—that is not necessary. Most of the time a due date is the date I will start and finish something or when someone owes me something (also tagged with “person’s name and Waiting for tags). For example, as shown below, I only have 4-6 tasks (the discrepancy is due to my still experimenting with this) that are flagged and/or have high priority set out of 294 tasks. This means that I have 4-6 tasks that I need to be working on until they are due. The time span is usually two weeks, e.g., to prepare a report or a presentation. After all, I can and only need to start on a few major tasks at one time.

I hope this makes sense.

Finally, I’m not trying to persuade anyone to use Reminder or any app for that matter; I’m merely describing my process and where I’ve landed. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Clever. I will switch to using the flag to indicate that I’m working on a task. That will free up the date field for when I have a future date driven task that must be done/started on a particular day. If there’s a separate due date that can go in the title so I’m aware of it.

I’ve adapted a shortcut automation so that each morning it’ll automatically flag any tasks dated that day so they appear in my working list alongside manually flagged tasks.

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No worries. Stealing code/ideas is what it is all about :grinning:

Here is the link to the Standup Shortcut

The Shortcut calls upon some modules I created to extract Reminders and Calendar Events so you will need these as well.

Work Calendar Events
Work Reminders Completed
Work Reminders Open

Any problems give me a shout


This is what I think is great about Apple’s apps – they are simple, and you can bend and shape them in many different ways to do just what you want. Using links between Mail, Notes, Reminders, Calendar, and Maps, I can do just about anything I would need to do. It may take some creativity as some have mentioned here with using flags in particular ways, but that’s part of what makes it personal. Figuring out how to make these apps do what you want is part of the fun. Just the discipline of not continuing to switch between the latest apps is beneficial in itself.


I’ve looked at doing this but….

  • I write notes in markdown and Apple Notes doesn’t support markdown. I use Joplin instead.
  • Reminders doesn’t have a “repeat after completion” feature which I use in most of my repeating tasks. I use Todoist instead.
  • Apple Mail doesn’t let you search folders when moving mail. Fastmail has this and it saves me a ton time when filing email. I have a lot of folders so navigating the folder hierarchy to find the dest folder takes a long time! I use Fastmail instead.

I do use Apple Calendar. No issues there!


One great thing about Apple’s apps is they’re scriptable (as, of course, many third party ones are too).

I’ve just implemented this automator script from a few years back (Services are now called Quick Actions) which lets me very quickly turn an email from the Mail app into a reminder (and flag the email in purple so I know it’s already set as a reminder).

Back in 2018 @Woteva rewrote a script (from the second half of that article) which allows a reminder to be quickly created from anywhere, using the clipboard as the title or the reminder note as desired.

I’ve assigned a keyboard shortcut to each of these. I may amend these scripts, but a nice little addition as I try to make Reminders the core of my task management and probably adaptable to create reminders from any app that supports scripting.

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@Woteva is my old alter ego, glad you found the code of value.

I enhanced Michael’s script to generate a Reminder from a Mail Messages. The latest version will check to see if a Reminder already exists and depending on whether it is open or closed give you options on what action to take.

Any questions give me a shout.