Shortcuts Folder Support in iOS14
One update I was looking forward to in iOS 14 was folder support in Shortcuts. Over the years I have expiremented with Shortcuts and most of them were just simple utilities, but at some point I decided to do a deep dive and write one to make publishing my podcast easier. It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I had a main shortcut for the process and it would call out to a few different specialized utility shortcuts for different things. The developer in me couldn’t resist trying to breaking it out for easier testing and flexibility, thankfully Shortcuts was built for developers and a Shortcut can be built as a little function that receive arguments and returns a result.
It wasn’t the easiest process because the code block dragging and dropping is a bit tedious and I would have loved being able to just type in text, because it would have saved me a ton of time. The organization of the shortcuts was always daunting too, because everything was just a giant grid of unrelated shortcuts and I was always moving things around so they stayed grouped together.
Well, now in iOS14 there is support for folders and it gave me the chance to go back and revisit my Shortcuts. As an added bonus I hooked up a keyboard and mouse to make things even easier. The first part of any good reorganization is getting rid of the old unused stuff and I had plenty of that. A bunch of shortcuts seemed to just have been added randomly and others were utilities that were no longer necessary thanks to advancements to iOS, like saving a file to iCloud Drive.
After cleaning up a bit I started testing each shortcut to see if they still worked and was frustrated to find a lot of them were broken as Shortcuts has grown over the years. In some cases the parameters I originally entered were just blank and it took me quite a while to wire them back up and occasionally I wasn’t even able to get them working again. I understand how difficult backward compatibility can be, but there wasn’t even a hint of even the simplest things upgrading successfully. Luckily I knew this was a problem, because I had fixed up my podcast release shortcut a few months ago and it was really frustrating.
Next, I put all the shortcuts into new folders one for utilities and another for all the podcast related helper shortcuts. I had already moved things around a little for using the Shortcuts widget and the return of Shortcuts support on Apple Watch. I now have a nice clean interface for Shortcuts on my iPad and iPhone. The last thing I did was clean up a bunch of Share Sheet shortcuts, which are now nicely grouped in its on “smart” folder.
Overall Shortcuts continues to be an integral part of my experience on my Apple devices. I hope it eventually shows up in a future release of macOS.