3.2 - Finding Actions


So you've already seen the building shortcuts really isn't that difficult. It's just a question of finding the right actions and sticking them together. But it's that finding the right actions part that can be difficult. 

So, I've opened a new shortcut here, and finding actions you do by being first over here in the Action Library, and then searching through it or finding the actions you want. Now, the problem is, there's a lot of them. So if I click on the All Actions button and just start scrolling, you see, the list just goes on and on. And you don't want to scroll through that every time you need to find a new action. 

Now, there are some ways to help. First is, they've organized them into some categories here for you : Documents, Sharing, Web, Suggestions, Scripting, Locations, and Media. Well, that gets you in the ballpark and gives you a smaller list. If I wanted to deal with something that involve recording audio, that's a media feature. And there it is, Record Audio. And I'm gonna go through these actions with you in a separate video, so we don't need to get into that now. But you get the idea that you can get generally in the categories. 

There's also the ability to have favorites and Favorite actions are great because as you find actions you use often, you can add them to Favorites. Like, one of my favorites is Comments, and I've got a separate video. You're gonna hear all about that soon. But if I hit that little i button next to it, I can say Add as a Favorite. And now when I go to my Favorites, you'll see Comment is right there. And you can just slowly build those favorites out into your Favorite actions. 

And then really, the last way to find actions, and one of the ways I'll probably use most often through this course because I find it the easiest, is just Search. There's a lot of things you can do with Search. 

Like, Ask for Input is one that I use a lot. When you're building something, you want to ask for input from the user. So, I'll type ask. And then you see, the very first thing that shows up here is Ask for Input. So, I'll go ahead and drag that in, and I've got started on my shortcut. So searching is an excellent way to find them. 

In addition to looking through categories, however, you can also look through specific apps. And what Shortcuts will do is build a list of shortcuts indexed by application. For instance, if I click on Calculator, you can see, here's a whole bunch of things I can do that involve the calculator, whether it's sticking a number in or generating a random number, all this stuff is available to me through Calculator. If I want to work on something that's related to a third-party application, I can click on that. And Craft is a really cool knowledge management application, and it's got some shortcuts attached to it. 

Not all of these are populated, as Shortcuts for Mac launches, though. For instance , Clock, here, has one to create an alarm. But when you click on it, it says it's not supported on the Mac because it doesn't have the clock app on the Mac. So you're gonna run into some bumps there. 

As I'm working through the beta, as we get ready to release Monterey, you'll see that Contacts doesn't have any actions listed underneath it. But if I search for Contacts, there's actually quite a few Contacts-related actions, and they just haven't got them indexed to that app search yet. 

So, you do have the ability to look through these apps. And now when I click on Contacts, they show up because I'm doing a search, and I think that's actually a bug. But that you do have the ability to search through these apps, but you also have the ability, ultimately, to search the entire database. So, what you want to do in that case is, just make sure you've listed all actions and type in the name of whatever it is you're thinking about. And you will get a nice list of contextually aware actions related to that. And, like, the way they organize this, I think, is really smart. I typed in Contacts, so it's given me all the Contact app-related actions first, and then other things that may relate to a contact, like a phone number or call via Skype. 

So just to summarize, you can find actions going through categories, like this. You can find actions going through apps. You can create favorite lists of actions. And you can search the actions, which I think is probably the most powerful and quickest way to do it. The thing is, you don't need to be intimidated. Shortcuts gives you a lot of actions, but they're easy to find whether using search, or categories, or apps, so you get exactly what you need as you're building your automation. 

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