Automators 6: Automating Shortcuts with Matthew Cassinelli

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 6: Automators 6: Automating Shortcuts with Matthew Cassinelli

Automators 5: Project Templates

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:

  • Editorial
  • iCloud Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Drafts
  • Workflow/Shortcuts

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:

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:

David also did a great screencast about how he uses Shortcuts to make project templates:

Make sure to check out the show notes for all of the links, and I look forward to discussing this episode and all of your examples for project templates in the forums!

Automators 4: First Look at Siri Shortcuts

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 which we didn’t get into this episode, but it’s a great place to share Shortcuts and let other people download them!

You can listen to episode 4 on Relay FM, and discuss it in our forums!

Automators 3: Sal Soghoian uses AppleScript to turn a Numbers Sheet into a Keynote Chart

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.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Widget A $1212 $1495 $1170 $1423
Widget B $1902 $2345 $1835 $2121
Widget C $2636 $3250 $2542 $3168

The brilliance of this, is the first script is just 17 lines – that’s it!

You can listen to the episode over on Relay FM. And make sure to use the code in the show if you want to attend CMD-D Down Home Scripting Bootcamp!

Automators 2: Email Automation

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.

We’ve made 3 screencasts for this episode which you can find over on the YouTube Channel, and you can discuss the episode in the forum too.