For episode 6 of automators we were very fortunate to have been joined by the wonderful Matthew Cassinelli. Matthew writes for The Sweet Setup and iMore, has also written for Tech Crunch, and is a Shortcuts genius – we went through two more complex Shortcuts in this episode to give you some ideas of your very own.
Episode 5 of automators is all about project templates, and how they can help you to be more productive. David and I are both OmniFocus users, but project templates can be used with almost every task management system out there – even Reminders!
The simplest type of project template is a project you can copy – this is easily done in both OmniFocus and Things, the advantage is it’s easy to set up, but it’s also static – what you have is what you get.
You can also store project templates somewhere else, the places I have used are:
- iCloud Drive
One thing I have done is to import all of the templates I’d previously saved into Dropbox and iCloud Drive into Drafts – this was easily done by pressing and holding the
+ icon which then lets you import a file.
Something I use a lot when making templates for OmniFocus is TaskPaper – and I even made a Drafts Action Group to help me do so easily. What you can do with OmniFocus and TaskPaper is create a template in OmniFocus, copy it and then paste it into a text editor (like Drafts) to edit it – this allows you to put “fuzzy dates” in, such as “Thursday” or “Monday -2d”, the latter evaluating to two days before Monday. You can also include
«variables» which the TaskPaper to OF action will then help you replace.
I demonstrated how to use this action group in a screencast for you:
And there’s also a blog post all about it: Using Drafts 5 Taskpaper with OmniFocus
As I mentioned in the podcast, Todoist supports importing a CSV file – and if your task manager does too then you can use Numbers or Excel and date math to make relative dates.
So, what kind of project templates might you create?
- Packing Lists
- Publishing a podcast episode
- Writing and submitting an essay/report
- And much more!
While David and I are both primarily OmniFocus users, there are also lots of great resources for Things users:
- Using AppleScript With Things – Things Support – Cultured Code – a 24 page guide.
- Things on iOS: The Complete Guide to Automations and Workflows
- Things URL Scheme – Things Support – Cultured Code
- Three workflows for quickly adding project templates and tasks to Things on iOS – The Sweet Setup
- And a thread from the Automators forums: Help with Things 3 URL Scheme for Project Templates
- Drafts actions:
And the Todoist blog also has a post called A whole new way to create and share Todoist Templates – Todoist Blog.
One of the workflows/Shortcuts I mentioned on the podcast was one to create an essay project, the options here are somewhat simplified, but demonstrate quite nicely how this works:
- Essay to OmniFocus
- Essay to OmniFocus
As the URL Scheme in Things doesn’t support adding headings I formatted the project in Things somewhat differently – however you can import a JSON which does support headings format so if you’re willing to get stuck in I’m sure you can figure it out!
Another Workflow/Shortcut I mentioned is the iOS implementation of these scripts:
- Populate Template Placeholders—curtclifton.net
- Tweaking OmniFocus: Project Template Applescript — MacSparky
- Chris Suave: Templates Applescript for OmniFocus.
What they allow you to do is to store a project in OmniFocus and then run AppleScript, which will parse out
«variables»and create a new project, with the help of the share sheet and two Workflows I recreated this functionality and wrote about it on Colter Reed’s blog: How to Fill Out OmniFocus Project Templates with Workflow | Colter Reed. What is probably interesting for you is that this is not one Workflow but two, and the second one is recursive – that is it calls itself until a condition is met, for this workflow that there are not more variables to parse. Using Workflows/Shortcuts as a function is something I rarely see but is extremely useful.
David also did a great screencast about how he uses Shortcuts to make project templates:
Episode 4 of automators is all about Shortcuts and Siri Shortcuts. We discussed what’s possible now, what we’re excited about (and not so excited).
I did mention my automation I now use when boarding a plane – this is available over on Sharecuts.app which we didn’t get into this episode, but it’s a great place to share Shortcuts and let other people download them!
In the third episode of Automators we are joined by Sal Soghoian, AppleScript God, to learn about AppleScript and how to use it!
While David and I usually take it in turns to write up everything about the show and provide complete documentation, Sal’s actually done that for this week:
You can find the scripts, videos, and a complete breakdown of everything over at macOSautomation, along with all of Sal’s other things.
In this show Sal gave us 3 AppleScripts. The first takes a whole table, and converts it into a bar chart in Keynote, the second takes a row or column and makes a pie chart, and the final one takes selected rows and turns them into a chart.
The brilliance of this, is the first script is just 17 lines – that’s it!
Episode 2 of Automators is all about automating email. We all have email, and there are a lot of things you can do to automate it – from filters, to mail merges, and complete automation of sending emails.
I talked to Tim about getting started with automation, the future of Shortcuts, Workflow, and more.
So someone put me in charge of some stickers… that may have been a mistake! STICKER TIME!
Yes, Automators has stickers 🤓