Hi MPUers, I hear a lot of buzz around Shortcuts coming to macOS, but I figured out what people use it for if they have Keyboard Maestro or Alfred or LaunchBar as their primary automation app. I mean you could do everything with these apps (and much more). So why use shortcuts?
PS: I find that I can do everything with Alfred for automation, either with a workflow or AppleScript or shell script. Backing up / sharing these automations is easy too since everything is in one app, rather than trying to hook/backup two apps.
I use shortcuts on the mac mainly to start other automations in Keyboard Maestro or run applescripts/shell scripts. These shortcuts are “universal” and I’ve created them to work across iOS, iPadOS and macOS.
1 example is picking up the youtube URL in the browser and sending that via ssh to my mac mini to download using youtube-dl, move it to my Plex server and opening the Plex app once completed
This starts in Shortcuts → ssh goes through shortcuts → youtube-dl → Hazel picks up the changes in the downloaded file → moves to Plex → KM then opens the Plex app in the background
I have 2 shortcuts - one that switches from a book’s page on amazon.com to the same book’s page on amazon.co.uk, and one that switches in the other direction. I could have 1 shortcut, but this is good enough.
the SSH sub shortcut
This shortcut is uniform and simple, it just takes all the input and passes it to a specific machine using ssh.
hazel on the mac then picks up the file, runs a shell command
url=$(cat $1);yt-dlp -o $1.mp4 $url
taking the youtube url, downloading using yt-dlp and renaming the output to the title put in in step 1
hazel then sorts the movie into a directory with the same title as the name and moves all that into my Plex movies folder.
Hazel then triggers a KM macro to open up Plex in the background on my iMac so I know it’s finished and I can check the video.
In all of this I’ve tried to create distinct simple steps so I can immediately see where things break, or what needs changing. I could just put all of this into 1 script on the mac, but instead I chose to add single actions for easy error checking. (1 shortcut to get the input, 1 shortcut to transfer, 1 hazel rule to start the script, 1 hazel rule to rename and sort, 1 hazel rule to start KM)
doing short little steps also allows you to re-use those steps elsewhere, without breaking the routine.
also: credit where credit is due
I did not come up with this 100% by myself, I simply adapted from @tjluoma’s post here, and other posts related to that one:
If you are experimenting or actively using Shortcuts on macOS, be sure to get a copy of the indispensable Actions (click to see their Git page) app from the Mac App Store. It’s free, and adds a long list of useful actions to Shortcuts. The developer has been steadily increasing the features available in actions and is very open to suggestions.
Actions on the App Store:
Another oddly useful app is One Thing, which just puts a line of text into the menubar on the Mac. The useful part is that it has a Shortcuts action, so you could, for example have a shortcut that puts the “next action” from a list in Reminders into the menubar so that it’s in front of your eyes.