Programmer, Author, Podcaster Rosemary Orchard - TMO BGM Interview

· John Martellaro · Background Mode Podcast

Rosemary Orchard on Background Mode

Rosemary Orchard describes herself as a geek, nerd, and programmer. She works full time as a developer of web applications, but her real loves are automation and productivity. She’s also a book author and podcaster.

Rosemary told me the story about how she started with computers and programming. After a bad experience with a Toshiba notebook and Windows Vista, she bought a MacBook Air for her university work—and loved it. At this point, she was still pursing human languages, but in time gravitated towards, instead, creating computer software that would make peoples lives easier. And she never looked back. We talked about her Web app development, her books (one on Shortcuts) and finished with how she learned to podcast. Today she does two. You’ll enjoy hearing how Rosemary’s career has developed.

Here is My Shortcut to Get App Screenshots

· Andrew Orr · Deep Dive

Shortcuts icon

Andrew created a shortcut to get app screenshots from the App Store in a higher quality than what it defaults to when you download them.

LaunchCuts 1.2 Update Adds Folder Icons, Quick Actions, and More

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

LaunchCuts is a launcher for Apple’s Shortcuts app that adds extra functionality. With LaunchCuts 1.2 it adds even more features, such as: Customization: Personalize the look of your folders with icons and colors; Custom App Icon: Choose from five different app icons for LaunchCuts; Quick Actions: Easily access up to three folders or shortcuts from iOS Home screen; Enhanced Keyboard Support: Control nearly every aspect of LaunchCuts from the keyboard; New Shortcut Actions: Analyze and Filter Shortcuts actions give you more visibility into your library of shortcuts; and a whole lot more. App Store: US$7.99

LaunchCuts 1.2 Update Adds Folder Icons, Quick Actions, and More

LaunchCuts Adds Folders, Search Filters, More to Shortcuts

· Andrew Orr · Link

Writing for MacStories, Federico Viticci reviewed LaunchCuts, a launcher for shortcuts that can organize them into folders, gives you search filters, and more.

…LaunchCuts’ sole purpose is to offer an alternative view for your shortcut library with folders and powerful search filters. If you have less than 20 shortcuts installed on your iPhone or iPad, you’re likely not going to get much benefit out of LaunchCuts’ advanced organizational tools; but if you’re like me and use hundreds of different shortcuts on a regular basis, and especially if your library has grown out of control over the past few years, you’re going to need the assistance of LaunchCuts to make sense of it all.

App Store: US$7.99

MusicBot is the Shortcuts Companion to Apple Music

· Andrew Orr · Link

Shortcuts icon

Federico Viticci recently announced his shortcut called MusicBot, which he says is the all-in-one assistant to Apple Music.

I created MusicBot for two reasons: I wanted to speed up common interactions with the Music app by using custom actions in the Shortcuts app; and I also wanted to build a series of “utilities” for Apple Music that could be bundled in a single, all-in-one shortcut instead of dozens of smaller, standalone ones.

I haven’t used this yet but Mr. Viticci is a master of shortcuts so I’m confident it’s a great tool to use.

How to Call Your Legislators With a Shortcut

· Andrew Orr · Link

Shortcuts icon

Matthew Cassinelli was part of the team that created Workflow, which Apple acquired and turned into the Shortcuts app. He recently created a shortcut that lets you enter your zip code and automatically call your legislators.

Hello. You can use this tool to immediately call your senator/representative based on your ZIP code. Contact them now.

Finally a Way to Batch-Rename Files on iOS

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Every since I bought an iPad Pro I’ve been able to conduct most of my work and personal life on my iPad. But I still need my MacBook Pro for a couple things, like using Automator to batch-rename files (renaming multiple files simultaneously). This isn’t possible to do on iOS, until now. A shortcut I found on RoutineHub lets you do this. It lets you rename your files in custom formats, like alphabetically, prepending text, sorting by date modified, etc.

Finally a Way to Batch-Rename Files on iOS

Google's AMP URL Technology Spreads to Images

· Andrew Orr · Link

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google invention that is meant to speed up web pages on mobile devices. But since it wraps the page in a Google-controlled container, it’s a harmful technology to the open web. The company has started to bring AMP URL technology for Google Images.

When you select an image, you’ll see a preview of the website header at the bottom of the screen. You can keep scrolling through Google Images, or swipe up on the preview to load the AMP (accelerated mobile pages) version of the site.

Earlier I found a shortcut that can clean AMP URLs. Or, use an alternative search engine like DuckDuckGo.

File Apple Feedback Using Shortcuts

· Andrew Orr · Link

Shortcuts icon

Matthew Cassinellli shared a shortcut to let people file Apple feedback using the Shortcuts app. He says it’s for iOS 13 beta users.

…this shortcut has you describe the problem first, asks you to list the steps to reproduce it, has you enter your expected results versus what actually happened, and copied it all to the clipboard.

Then, it uses Open App to go into Feedback, you fill out the menial parts of the form, and paste in your completed description.

PSA: Tweak Your Shortcuts to Use Apps.Apple.Com

· Andrew Orr · News

Shortcuts icon

Now that Apple has killed iTunes, App Store apps no longer use itunes.apple.com. Instead, the new URL is apps.apple.com. This means you’ll have to tweak your shortcuts.

How to Copy and Paste Actions Between Shortcuts

· Andrew Orr · Quick Tip

Shortcuts icon

Andrew recently discovered a shortcut that lets you copy and paste actions between shortcuts, which is helpful when you’re making a shortcut with dozens of actions.

Get Apple News Original URLs Using This Shortcut

· Andrew Orr · Link

Shortcuts icon

A Mac app called StopTheNews has been making the news rounds lately. It lets you open Apple News original URLs directly in Safari. I wanted to share a shortcut that does the same thing on iOS.

Share an Apple news article to this shortcut, and get the original URL back. Prompt at the end lets you pick between copying the URL to your clipboard or sharing it somewhere else.

Unlike macOS, you can open an Apple News article in Safari on iOS. Then from Safari you can copy the URL. But this shortcut removes that step, so you can share the article to the shortcut, then copy the URL to the clipboard or share it elsewhere.

These Academic Shortcuts Help You Maximize Your Research

· Andrew Orr · Link

Shortcuts icon

Last night I came across a website called Appademic, which shares academic shortcuts that can help students and researchers. One example is a shortcut that gives you better BibTeX citation keys for Pandoc.

This is the long awaited iOS Shortcut for Zotero to extract Better BibTeX citation keys for Pandoc. I know a fair few people have been waiting on this, apologies it has taken so long to post. If you need more detail, read on, otherwise the shortcut can be downloaded below.

Scriptable Can Make Shortcuts and Siri More Powerful

· Andrew Orr · Cool Stuff Found

Scriptable is an automation tool that enables you to write scripts that integrates with native features of iOS such as files, calendars, reminders, documents and much more. An extensive support for Siri Shortcuts enables you to present images, tables and more in Siri as well as making Siri read out loud a text when you run a script from a Siri Shortcut. Your scripts can be run from the Scriptable app, from a Siri Shortcut or from other apps using the share sheet extensive or Scriptable’s URL schemes. Features include writing and running JavaScript; auto complete of variable names, functions, keywords and properties as you type; access lots of native iOS features from your JavaScript code, including managing files, calendars, reminders, contacts, photos, location, pasteboard, web views and more. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

Scriptable Can Make Shortcuts and Siri More Powerful

What Will Happen to Automation in macOS?

· Andrew Orr · Link

The next version of macOS will include more UIKit (iOS) apps. Rumored to be among them is Apple’s Shortcuts app. So what happens to Automator, AppleScript, and AppleEvents?

So what happens when iOS apps comes to the Mac this fall? It seems impossible that Apple will allow them to be controlled by AppleScript and Automator…Will “classic” Mac apps get the ability to be controlled via Shortcuts, too? Or will there be a schism between the two different classes of apps?

But whatever happens, it’s clear that iOS and macOS are going to face the future of user automation together, not separately.

How to Use JavaScript When Creating Shortcuts

· Andrew Orr · Link

Redditor u/keveridge put together a nice guide on how to use JavaScript when creating Shortcuts. JavaScript lets you perform complex actions that would be hard to do with regular shortcut actions.

We make use of the Safari web browser, running within the shortcut, in order to execute the JavaScript. To do so, we:

  • make an HTML file that contains our code and provides an output;

  • pass the contents of the file to Safari as a Data URL;

  • use Get Contents of Web Page to render the page provide the output to the shortcut.