6 Things to Make Shortcuts Work for You
How to edit, organize, and consolidate your Shortcuts to make it easier to use.
I have been thinking a lot about Shortcuts lately thanks to a number of newsletters, podcasts, and Clubhouse chats this past week.
Regardless of why, I want to share some tips that improve the quality of life for Shortcuts and those who use it.
Look at What’s in Your Share Sheet
If you are someone who sees a litany of shortcuts in the Share Sheet, you may want to take stock at what shortcuts are enabled for it.
Thankfully, you can tap on the Share Sheet smart folder in the Shortcuts app, and see all of the shortcuts fitting that criteria.
One thing you can do is simply disable the Share Sheet option in the shortcut, which is done by opening it, tapping on the "..." button at the top, and you will see the option there to toggle Share Sheet off.
Another, more elegant, solution you can try is editing what your shortcut accepts. By default, Shortcuts accepts all kinds of data, but you can get much more granular than that if you want to. For instance, if you have a shortcut that involves images only, you can disable all other options in the Share Sheet except images. Now, when you share something like a link or text that specific shortcut won't be in the Share Sheet.
Colorize your shortcuts
You can also edit the icon and color of each of your Shortcuts, there are 15 colors in total.
You could organize your shortcuts so that you have colors represent different contexts or “modes:” in your life.
For example, red can be work, green can be home, blue can be social media, and orange can be writing. Instead of using colors without purpose, you can use them to differentiate your shortcuts.
If contexts aren't your thing you can use the colors to represent different apps and services. For instance, red can be YouTube, blue can be Twitter, green can be banking, and purple can be OmniFocus. It is similar to contexts, but it can be more difficult once you make shortcuts for more than 15 apps, which may or may not be easy depending on how many shortcuts you make.
Organize by Folders
With contexts in mind, you can think on a larger scope about organizing your shortcuts with the new addition of folders.
So, if you use colors in your shortcuts to represent different "modes" in your life (photography, writing, editing, etc.) you can use the folders to represent the contexts in your life (home, work, out shopping, etc.).
You could also flip it and have folders represent the "modes" you are in and have the color of your shortcuts represent different contexts.
This is definitely something that you need to try for yourself and see what works for you because what could work for me might be something that doesn't work for you.
Add Icons to Shortcuts
To round out the ways you can differentiate your Shortcuts, you can assign an icon to your Shortcuts.
Shortcuts has a plethora of different icons available. From server and database icons, to travel icons, to more abstract shapes there is something that will fit whatever you make.
Additionally, if you decide to add your shortcut to your home screen you can use a custom icon as well. You may have seen those "aesthetic" home screens on TikTok and Twitter over the past year. Those home screens were all based on the "Open App" action. If you don't know how to create your own custom icon on the home screen, 9to5Mac has a great step-by-step guide on how to do it.
If you want to play around with custom shortcut icons I highly recommend you check out the Shortcut icon pack from MacStories. This was the first icon pack I bought, and I still use them more than any other icon pack.
If you already own that pack, or want to know where you can find more you can check out these packs featured on 9to5Mac.
Combine Shortcuts into One Menu
Aside from organizing shortcuts, you might want to think about consolidating. Instead of having 8 different shortcuts that do very similar things you can instead have it all in one action.
Matthew Cassinelli recently talked about this in the latest episode from Automators podcast, where he took entire folders of Shortcuts and put them into one singular shortcut. Why would someone want to do this? Because it allows you to not have a paradox of choice or forget what shortcuts you have created. If you have a tweet you want to do something with, you can share it to a singular Twitter shortcut you made and choose from a list of different options.
If you want more legitimate examples, I highly recommend you look at Matthew Cassinelli's Shortcuts Library, he managed to create 25 Shortcuts that were once hundreds of Shortcuts. I love his "Please do not disturb me" Shortcut.
Make it Yours
Finally, you can make Shortcuts work better for you if you take the time and personalize it. I used to constantly copy shortcuts from others and never touch it. I would just use these great tools others made, but eventually you feel like it isn’t quite the way you want things. After a while I started duplicating shortcuts I used regularly and tweaked the newly created one. I learned a ton about what goes into a shortcut, the different kinds of data that can be passed through it, and how I can use that knowledge to make Shortcuts work how my brain works.
A large amount of the shortcuts I use regularly were originally created by someone else, but I took them and molded them to fit what I needed. Don’t be afraid to make a copy of a Shortcut and see what you can do to improve upon it.
If you have any thoughts on organizing your Shortcuts or have any questions or me please feel free to leave a comment!
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