shortcuts

Save Home Screen space with two shortcuts in one small widget [Pro Tip]

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Two for the space of one
Double the shortcuts in the small widget.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug

You can fit two shortcuts into one small widget in iOS 17, a significant change for power users of Apple’s time-saving Shortcuts app. A lot of shortcuts I make are in pairs — and now, you can put two shortcuts of a kind in one small space on your Home Screen.

Shortcuts, if you’re not aware, let you automate the things you do most often on your iPhone, Mac, iPad or Apple Watch. For instance, you can create a shortcut that sets a Focus mode when you get to work, one that suggests easy-to-remember passwords, one for converting units — the possibilities are endless. (Read Apple’s helpful Shortcuts guide if you want to familiarize yourself with the powerful app.)

Home Screen widgets are a great way to launch the shortcuts you use every day. On the iPhone, where space is limited, fitting twice as many shortcuts without losing any icons could be a game changer for your Home Screen. Let me show you how to set it up.

Add ChatGPT to iPhone or Mac with this new Shortcut

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Add ChatGPT to iPhone or Mac with this new Shortcut
Have ChatGPT always available on your iPhone with S-GPT.
Photo: Federico Viticci/MacStories

Don’t be jealous of Microsoft Bing’s new AI capabilities: A new Shortcut called S-GPT integrates OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot into Apple devices. It works as a conversational search engine but can do much more, including summarizing a webpage and creating an Apple Music playlist from a list of suggested songs.

It’s a Shortcut rather than an app, and it’s free to download. There’s a very small fee for using it.

How to make Apple Passwords a standalone app

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•••• ••••••• •• ••• ••••!
This feature is the best!
Image: Santeri Viinamäki/Wikimedia Commons/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

There’s much more to iCloud Keychain than meets the eye. Apple’s password-management system suggests strong passwords, autofills them whenever you need to sign in later, and syncs across all your devices. But you also can use iCloud Keychain to keep two-factor authentication codes (instead of relying on Google Authenticator) and access your passwords on Windows.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how Apple should make a standalone Passwords app. That’s because a lot of the more advanced features in iCloud Keychain are pretty hard to find. You have to dig into Settings to locate them.

There’s a workaround: I have a Shortcut that will add a convenient Passwords icon to your iPhone’s Home Screen. Using iCloud Keychain becomes a lot easier.

Apple’s simple Shortcuts change greatly improves cross-device support

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Like Shortcuts? macOS Monterey's got 'em.
You no longer have to update storage locations for each Shortcut.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s newest betas for iOS, iPadOS and macOS make a simple Shortcuts change that greatly improves the user experience across different devices.

Shortcuts now know which storage folders to use automatically — depending on your device — negating the need to manually update them individually for different hardware.

How to expand a (potentially dangerous) shortened URL on your iPhone

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Wiggly yellow road sign
Take a shortcut.
Photo: John Gibbons/Unsplash

Someone sends you a link that looks like this:

https://youtu.be/rZdrlpz3MOo

What do you do? Well, that one is probably safe, as it uses YouTube’s own URL shortener. But what about all those other shortened URLS you see in emails, on Twitter and everywhere else? They could link to anything. A cautious person never clicks on links in emails. And only an insane person would click on shortened links in emails. That’s why you need today’s shortcut, which lets you expand a URL, preview the actual link, and then tap a button to either open it or dismiss it.

Add a one-tap AirPods connect button to your Home screen or Dock

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airpods connect
This sticker is just one way to speed up AirPods connections.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you own multiple iOS devices, then AirPods are supremely convenient. As soon as you connect them to one device, they automatically pair (and remain paired) to all your other devices. So, if you have a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad, and an Apple Watch, then all you have to do is tap connect on whichever device you want to use.

The problem is that the connect button is hidden, and a pain to reach. You have to swipe to open Control Center, then tap the AirPlay icon, then tap your AirPods in the list. And then wait a few seconds to see if it worked. Admittedly, this is a small inconvenience, but we can make it better. How about adding a button to your iPhone Home screen or Mac Dock that connects the AirPods with one tap?

6 iPad trackpad gestures you need to know

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iPad trackpad gestures
Trackpad gestures transform the iPad into something entirely new.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The trackpad and mouse support Apple added in iOS 13.4 is just amazing. It’s like getting a whole new computer, just by updating your iPad. I’ve been using it for a week for so now, and I want to share my favorite trackpad gestures.

If you use a trackpad with your iPad, these gestures will change the way you use your tablet.

Shortcutify integrates Spotify, Google Maps, Todoist and more into Shortcuts

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Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Control your smart lighting, your music, and more with Shortcutify.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Shortcutify is a free iOS app that lets you use web-based services in your Shortcuts. For instance, it can connect with Spotify, Todoist, AirTable and more, and provides an easy bridge between these services’ complicated APIs and the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.

If you use any of the supported services, you’re going to totally love Shortcutify. If not? More app integrations are planned for the future.

iPadOS 13.4’s Full Keyboard Access offers incredible touch-free control

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tab key Full Keyboard Access
You will come to love the Tab key with iPadOS 13.4's Full Keyboard Access.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Did you know you can control your iPad using just a keyboard? You can use the arrow keys to move between icons on the Home screen. You can use the arrow keys (again) to scroll lists. And you can even tap and toggle buttons using the space bar. Apple added this capability via iOS 13.4’s new Full Keyboard Access feature, and it’s wild.

How wild? How about offering system-wide, custom keyboard shortcuts for running actual Shortcuts? And that’s just the beginning.

Add a one-tap web search button to your iPhone Home screen

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Add a custom search button to your Home screen on iPhone or iPad.
Super-charge your web searches with this customizable Home screen shortcut.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This fantastic shortcut makes searching the web with your iPhone faster than ever. It places an icon on your Home screen, and you just tap it, type a search into the box that pops up, and hit enter. Your search will then open in Safari.

This customizable search shortcut proves speedier than pretty much any other method, including iOS’ built-in Spotlight search.

This shortcut mutes iPhone audio when you enter Do Not Disturb

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mute audio orange speaker
Quiet!
Photo: Oleg Laptev/Unsplash

The Do Not Disturb mode built into iOS is excellent. It hides incoming alerts, and generally stops you from being disturbed by outside forces. But it won’t save you from yourself. What if you accidentally click on a YouTube link or — more likely — that GIF you clicked in Tweetbot turns out to be a noisy video? The sudden racket will surely wake your spouse.

Today we’ll see how to make a shortcut that automatically silences your iPhone whenever it enters Do Not Disturb mode.

Finally — a YouTube download shortcut for iOS that actually works

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download youtube shortcut
In the olden days, we had to download videos through our eyes, and we couldn't even save them.
Photo: Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash

I’ve made several attempts at creating/repurposing iOS shortcuts that download YouTube videos and save them for offline viewing. The problem is, most of the shortcuts broke after a while, or proved so unreliable that I gave up on them. And, judging by the responses I get via Twitter, you folks are also very interested in downloading YouTube videos.

Well, this weekend I finally found a way to make it work reliably. And because it uses a third-party service to locate the downloadable video link, it means that someone else is making sure that it all keeps working. Hopefully. For now. Fingers crossed.

This Command key shortcut will change how you use your Mac

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command key
Take command.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There are two kinds of Mac users. The sad, harried folks who don’t know how to use this easy, essential, life-changing Command key trick. And the happy, efficient, relaxed people who learned it years ago. If you’ve seen the movie Back to the Future, it’s like the difference between the two 2015 versions of George McFly, before and after Marty screws around with the 1950s. This trick will change your life.

Are you ready?

How to “screenshot” music and videos on your iPhone

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just-press-record
Just press record.
Photo: darkday/Flickr CC

On the iPhone and iPad, you can capture any image you see just by grabbing a screenshot. Pretty much everyone knows the power+home button, or power+volume-up button combo that snaps a screenshot and saves it to your photo library. You can even crop the image before saving it, to remove surrounding distractions. But what about video? Or music? Is it possible to take a “screenshot” of the music playing on your iPhone? Or capture a YouTube video? Yes it is. In fact, you can even “screenshot” a video, and then extract the music from within. Here’s how: with screen recording.

How to hand off music from your iPhone when you arrive home

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Libratone Zipp mini black white airplay 2 support
The Libratone ZIPP and ZIPP mini offer great sound quality, and now supports AirPlay 2
Photo: Connect to any AirPlay speaker, automatically.

Imagine arriving home, listening to music on your iPhone. You want to start that music playing on your home speakers instead, only you don’t want all the hassle of using Control Center, or the AirPlay panel, to do the connection manually.

If you own a HomePod, all you have to do is hold your iPhone near it, and playback will transfer. But what about regular AirPlay speakers? Can you hand off to those? Yes! You can. With a quick one-time setup, you can have the music or podcast app switch from your headphones, and play on any AirPlay speaker you have at home.

How to run iOS shortcuts from your Mac

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Shortcuts on Mac.
Shortcuts on Mac — kinda.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

While it is possible to get the Shortcuts app running in macOS Catalina via Catalyst, you can’t do much with it. But what about the next best thing? How about selecting something on your Mac, then tapping a shortcut on your iPhone, and then having the result show up back on your Mac?

I’ve been doing this for the past few weeks, and it’s not only a workaround, but a genuinely useful — and reliable — way to “run” iOS shortcuts on the Mac. Let’s get right into it.

This essential iPad shortcut lets you instantly preview any file

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Add Quick Look to the Files app. Sometimes I think it was easier the old way.
Sometimes I think it was easier the old way.
Photo: Maksym Kaharlytskyi/Unsplash

The iPadOS Files app isn’t bad, but it has one super-frustrating flaw. While you can now enjoy multiple windows, hook up any and all USB drives, and even connect to network servers, you can’t do one simple thing: Preview a file. Or rather, you can preview any file, just by clicking on it, but you never know whether Files will actually show you a Quick Look preview, or just open that file in an arbitrary app.

Today, we will add a dedicated Quick Look entry to the Files app share menu. Never again will you tap to preview a file and have it launch an app instead.

Check out iOS 13’s amazing NFC-triggered Shortcuts

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nfc shortcuts
These little NFC tags are discreet enough to stick anywhere.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Shortcuts has gotten so many amazing new tricks in iOS 13 that it’s going to take a while for us to cover them all. So, how about starting with the new NFC automations? This lets you tap your sleeping iPhone onto an NFC sticker or tag, and your iPhone will run a shortcut. This is pretty amazing, because you can walk around you home (or office), and just tap your iPhone onto objects to perform tasks: open apps, set timers, play music, dim the lights — in fact, you can do anything a regular shortcut can do.

Here are two great examples of using NFC shortcuts in iOS 13.

Best new (and returning) features in iOS 13.1 beta 1

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iOS 13.1 beta 1 adds Books reading goal, brings back almost every feature dropped in previous betas.
iOS 13.1 beta 1 brings back almost every cool feature dropped from previous betas.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Surprisingly, iOS 13.1 is already in beta. It looks like Apple’s release strategy this year is to freeze the current beta version of iOS 13.0 in order to get it ready for the new iPhones expected on September 10. Meanwhile, Apple continues to test the next version, adding back some features removed during the beta period — Shortcuts automations, for example.

So, what other new (or revived) features will you find in iOS 13.1 beta 1?

iOS 13 Shortcuts can automatically download new wallpaper

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Cheesy romantic photo on ipad screen
WTF SRSLY Shortcuts?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In iOS 13, Shortcuts has gotten some pretty wild new powers. It can run shortcuts automatically, in the background, for example, based on the time of day, or your location. You can tap your iPhone on an RFID tag, and it’ll fire off a shortcut. You can have your iPhone hand off a podcast from your AirPods to an AirPlay speaker when you arrive home.

And, as we’ll see today, you can have your iPhone or iPad download and load new wallpaper automatically, so you can see a fresh backdrop every morning.

Third betas for iOS 13 and iPadOS arrive for devs

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ios13
Users can't wait to get their hands on iOS 13.
Photo: Apple

Apple seeded the third beta build of iOS 13 and iPadOS to developers this morning, bringing a host of new tweaks and bug fixes to test devices just before the 4th of July break.

iOS 13 beta 3 arrives just over two weeks after Apple dropped the last developer beta. The first iOS 13 public beta came out a week ago. Apple also released the third betas of tvOS 13, watchOS 6 and macOS Catalina today.

iOS 13 finally lets you (kinda) replace Apple’s default apps

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Launch any camera app from the lock screen with this incredibly useful iOS 13 trick.
Launch any camera app from the lock screen with this incredibly useful trick.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

In iPadOS and iOS 13, you can kinda replace the stock Apple apps on your iPhone or iPad. For instance, anytime you tap the Mail icon, Spark could launch instead. Or, and this is probably the most useful, when you tap the lock-screen shortcut for the Camera app, you could launch Halide instead.

This isn’t proper app replacement, but it is a pretty wild trick for iOS devices. We use a new feature in Shortcuts to make the magic happen. And for the Camera app, it works great.