The Changes to Shortcuts that Makes me Excited

Why Shortcuts for iOS 15 has me excited, and the new actions I am using

A Slab of Glass is Available Now

My relaunched podcast, A Slab of Glass, is now available to all, and you can subscribe to it today. Not only are all the old episodes with me and Christopher Lawley available, but I am also releasing the first new episode with Matt Birchler today.

Matt is the creator of the YouTube channel A Better Computer, and writer over at Birchtree. He has been talking about tech and Apple for over a decade, and has some of the most delightful designs in his work. We talked a lot about his video-making process and what he uses to make his videos look so beautiful.

What Excites me about Shortcuts in iOS 15

Now that the Public Beta for iOS 15 is available, I thought I would talk about some of the changes and additions to Shortcuts that has me excited this year.

Split View and Slide Over Actions

The new and improved multitasking features being available on iPadOS 15. With that, Shortcuts now allows users to create actions and shortcuts that opens apps in both Split View and in Slide Over. I made a demo shortcut you can download here.

As you can see, you can choose the two apps that will be in Split View and have a separate action opening a specific app in Slide Over. In just two actions I can have my entire setup change on the iPad.

You are also able to change the Split View ratio from 50/50 to 70/30 if you so choose.

This might not seem like something to write home about, but like most Shortcut posts it is all about how you use these tools and actions.

For me, I integrate this with my Focus areas and have Shortcut Automation perform these actions automatically.

Focus Automation

Speaking of Focus Automation, here is what I have happen when I open my Writing Focus.

In two actions I have Safari and Craft in Split View and I have a new Toggl timer going in Timery. With just a single tap I have moved everything I need to the forefront and allowed everything else fall to the wayside.

This is what I was talking about with the building blocks and how you use the tools Shortcuts provides. Once you begin to understand the small things Shortcuts offers you can then build them into something bigger and more meaningful.

Stop and Output

This is a very specific feature in Shortcuts for people that build larger shortcuts and need to debug them.

Stop and Output is an easy way for you to put in an action to see what the output is at that particular point in the Shortcut. You can even copy it to the Clipboard for further investigation.

I don't normally need this kind of tool when I am making Shortcuts, but when I do need it, I will absolutely be joyous that it is there.

Files Actions

Last, but certainly not least, is the improved Files support. Previously, you would only be allowed access to the Shortcuts folder in iCloud Drive to save, append, or edit files. If you had a file in any other iCloud or local folder on your iPhone or iPad it wasn't accessible.

Thankfully, that has changed. You can most likely thank the Mac version of Shortcuts for this change, but it is here nonetheless. Now, you can choose a folder or file anywhere in your file system. From Dropbox, to iCloud Drive, to local storage (On My iPad/On My iPhone). Simply tap where the destination is on the Files action and "Replace" the folder/file with what ever you want.

As of right now, in the Developer Beta 2 (2nd Beta 2 update), I cannot seem to be able to make changes to the file/folder in Shortcuts. When I select "Replace" it is consistently crashing every time. If it does work for you, here's an image of what it looks like in a Shortcut to "Replace" the File/Folder location.

As far as the crashing problem goes, I have filed a Feedback request to Apple sharing what I can in hopes it is fixed in the next version.

As a disclaimer for Beta season, there may be times where Shortcuts won't work for you properly, like what I just explained above. I will try my best to debug things if something happens, but consider this your warning for testing things in the public Beta.


Shortcuts has a lot more changes and additions up its sleeve, and I can't wait to share more with you this Summer about it as iOS 15 and macOS Monterey show us what Shortcuts has in store for us.

Workflow of the Week

If you liked my simple yet effective Writing Mode automation, I made it into a Shortcut you can download here. I also added an action to choose what apps goes into Slide Over if you would like to.

If you have any questions about it let me know on Twitter or email me

Galaxy Brain
This is the Awful Voice Inside My Head
Welcome to Galaxy Brain — a newsletter from Charlie Warzel about technology and culture. You can read what this is all about here. If you like what you see, consider forwarding it to a friend or two. If you’ve been reading, consider going to the paid version…
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If you read one thing this week, make it this piece by Charlie Warzel. It dives deep into the ongoing pleas from Apple employees to reconsider their new rule requiring them to be in the office 3 days a week.

every manager/executive we interviewed for our book who is good at their job and works at a company with employees who aren’t broadly miserable employs a similar strategy: they listen to their employees. They listen and they do it regularly. I don’t mean sending out end of year feedback forms and having HR compile long reports nobody reads — I mean they actively seek their employees out and, humbly, listen. They listen not to confirm their priors, but to gain some new understanding. They do this, in part, because they give a shit about their employees, but also because it’s good business. It turns out that your employees — the ones doing the day to day labor of making the business run — are quite good at sending signals about the real status of the company’s culture. You just have to be willing to listen.

Stephen Hackett launched a new Kickstarter for Apple Hardware Calendar, it looks stunning and I instantly backed the project.