Learn about Shortcuts and why they can give you automation super powers on your iPad and iPhone.


Hello, I'm David Sparks, and thank you for purchasing the Shortcuts Field Guide, iOS 13 Edition. I'm so happy with Apple's progress this year on iOS 13 and Shortcuts. Not only have they made the software more powerful, they've also made it easier to use with an entirely new programming model, and a bunch of new Triggers. And it's just going to make Automation so much easier on your iPad and iPhone.

The goal of this course is to turn you into a Shortcuts pro. We've got a whole bunch of videos here, over six hours of content.

So let's get started.

In the beginning, Apple gave us the iPhone. And as much as we love the iPhone, it was not very friendly to Automation. In fact, there was really, no automation possible on the iPhone.

Immediately, people started trying to find ways around it and they Callback URL was one of the greatest. With the Callback URL, you could have data that would transfer between applications using this kind of obscure URL callback. And it worked but not all apps supported it. And there was limitations to it. And it was really kind of a bolt-on automation solution.

What we really wanted was auto, the Automator like we had on the Mac with the Automation applications on the Mac, that allowed you to build Automation, kind of like stacking LEGO Brick.

And we got that eventually, with an application called Workflow. Workflow was put together by a really smart group of people that use Callbacks and every other trick up their sleeve on iOS to make automation happen between applications.

One of the best things they did was figuring out how to take different kinds of data out of an application and transfer it to another.

For instance, if you had a song, not only could you get the song file, you could get the name of the song, the beats per minute, the genre of the music, the cover art from the album, and then you could do stuff with it via Automation. But because it was a third-party application, it was limited and exactly what it could do. But at the end of the day, it was Automation on iOS, and we loved it.

And then one day, Apple purchased Workflow, they brought it in house. And we were all a little terrified and a little hopeful that they were going to make something awesome, with Automation built from the inside of iOS.

And indeed, they did that with the release of Shortcuts in 2018. Best of all, they didn't just release and forget it, they continue to develop on it. And with the release of iOS 13 in 2019 Shortcuts got even stronger.

The purpose of this course is to teach you how to use Shortcuts and to make amazing automations on your iPhone and your iPad.

I've broken up the course into sections and in each section, there are individual videos, so you can pick and choose as you work your way through the course.

The first section is the Introduction and you just started that with this video. In the Introduction, you're going to learn the basics of the application, the user interface. How to get around. How to see the gallery. And just some of the basics of Shortcuts.

The second section is called Key Concepts. And my goal here is to help folks, who have not been programmers learn how to program. Shortcuts is built to be a consumer product. But there are still things you need to understand like Variables and Shortcuts Magic Variables. This new version of Shortcuts uses a new programming model, and conversational shortcuts. These are basics to Shortcuts that you're going to use in lots of shortcuts. So I wanted to take my time with those so everybody could understand what's going in. Once you understand the Key Concepts, then you can start digging into the meat of Shortcuts.

We start with Triggers, and Triggers are the things that trigger an Automation. It can be a simple thing like you pressing a button on your phone, or you giving Siri a command. But it can also be something advanced now with Shortcuts, because it has advanced Triggers like connecting to a Wi-Fi signal or even tapping your phone against an NFC sticker. All of those are covered each with their own individual video in the Triggers section.

Next is one of the biggest sections in here and it's about Actions. Once you trigger an Automation, what is it going to do? Well, Shortcuts has support throughout the iPhone and iPad operating systems, along with third-party applications. In this section, I've broken out separate videos for all of those different actions, so you can see how they work. So if you want to build shortcuts around your calendar, there's a video to watch that explains calendar actions. Maybe you want to work with contacts or Safari, or some specific application that has built-in support for Shortcuts. I've made videos on all of them in this section. You can go through those, so you can pick and choose again to pick the ones that make the most sense to you. But at the end of the day, my goal for you once you finish this section is to have a thorough understanding of the available actions to you with Shortcuts.

The next section bookends nicely with the Key Concepts, and I call this the Advanced Concepts. There are certain things that Shortcuts can do, they take a little more knowledge like Base64, where you can encode an image into a shortcut, or those URL callbacks I was talking about earlier,you can still use those in Shortcuts.

There's also some advanced programming concepts like more advanced use of variables and counts, and if statements, I've created separate videos on each one of those concepts in this Advanced Concepts section. So if you really want to up your Shortcuts game, take your time going through this section, and learn how those Advanced Concepts work.

And the next section is what I call the payoff: Useful Shortcuts. And in here, I have collected some of my favorite shortcuts that I use every day, and I'm giving you the shortcuts. There's a download link for each one of these. I walk through the shortcut with you. Sometimes I build it right in front of you, I explain how you can alter it to make it work better for you. And it's 32 shortcuts that you can just start using. So even if you don't want to learn everything, go through the useful shortcut section and see what you can pull out of that for your own use.

And then finally, we get to the Conclusion. This is a big course a 106 videos, about six hours worth of content. There's a lot in here to learn, but by the end, you are going to be a pro at this stuff.

I think that's enough yakking from me about how this course works. Let's get started learning Shortcuts.