Apple introduced a new Shortcuts app for macOS Monterey and this app comes default with the installation of operating system. Though Shortcuts is new to macOS, it has a long history. Initially, it was a project called Workflow started at The University of Michigan. Later, Apple acquired Workflow and changed the name as Shortcuts and introduced with iOS 12 to use with Siri. From iOS 13 onwards, Shortcuts app comes as a separate app in iPhone by default. And finally, the desktop version of the app comes to macOS with Monterey in October 2021.
Shortcuts App in Mac
You can find the Shortcuts app in “Applications” folder with the same app icon as in the iOS. Alternatively, the easy way is to press “Command + Shift” to open Spotlight Search, type “shortcuts” and open the app.
Using Shortcuts App in Mac
As a scripting app, many find it difficult to use Shortcuts app. However, Apple make it easy to get most popular shortcuts available predefined as a “Gallery”. If you want, try out creating your own shortcuts to make your daily routines easier.
- Shortcuts are synchronized across your devices and you can access them from anywhere.
- The best part is that you can share the shortcuts with anyone using iCloud link.
- Likewise, you can also download shortcuts from third-party websites and use for your own purposes.
- You can Siri to trigger the shortcuts from the app.
Getting Shortcuts from Gallery
Click on the “Gallery” option showing in left sidebar to view hundreds of predefined shortcuts arranged under different categories. You can choose the shortcuts for creating a GIF, emailing yourself, getting word of the day, translating text and many more! Let us say, you want to add “Word of the Day” so that you can learn a new word every day.
- Use the search box or scroll down and find the “Word of the Day” shortcut under “Gallery” section. Simply click on it to open the shortcut.
- You can find what exactly the shortcut will do and click on “Add Shortcut” button.
- You will see a message showing “Shortcut Added”.
- Instead of the lengthy process, you can also simply click on the + icon showing on any shortcut to quickly add it to your list.
- Go to “All Shortcuts” section to find all the items you have added in the app. You can find all shortcuts synchronized across your devices.
- Hover over your shortcut and click on the play button to trigger the action. It will open a Quick Look window and show the word with meaning for the current calendar day.
- You can also double click on the shortcut to view the sequence of actions. The “Word of the Day” shortcut has two actions as shown below. It first gets the word from Merriam-Webster dictionary website’s RSS feed and then show it in a Quick Look window as seen in the above screenshot.
Editing Gallery Shortcuts
It is not very difficult to create your own shortcut. However, we recommend first using the Gallery and customize an existing shortcut before you create your own. For example, the “Word of the Day” shortcut gets the word from Merriam-Webster dictionary. Let’s say, you do not want that and want to change it to dictionary.com. In this case, you have to search and find the RSS feed from dictionary.com for getting the word of the day and simply replace it in your shortcut.
It should look like below with dictionary.com feed:
Shortcuts app will automatically save your changes. Now, you close the window and click on the play button on “Word of the Day” shortcut. It will show you the word from dictionary.com as below:
Creating Your Own Shortcuts
If you do not find any gallery shortcuts are matching your need, click on the + icon showing in the title bar of the app.
It will open the editor with list of actions and suggestions.
Let’s say, you want to create a shortcut for opening cnn.com with your default browser (generally Safari unless you have changed).
- Select “Web” category and add “Open URLs” action.
- Enter the URL address as https://www.cnn.com/
- Name your shortcut and click on the play button to test the setup.
- It will open CNN website in your browser and you can close the editor and find the created shortcut under “All Shortcuts” section.
This is super simple example with one action to open a website. However, you can assign sequence of actions to create a complex workflow.
Adding Shortcuts in Quick Action and Menu Bar
Just creating a shortcut is no more useful if you need to open the Shortcuts app to trigger it every time. In the above example, instead of opening Shortcuts app to trigger “Open CNN” item, you would probably launch Safari browser and open the website directly. The power of shortcuts is that you can add the items in the menu bar and as a “Quick Action” item in Finder context menu.
Keep Shortcut in Menu Bar
When you are in the shortcut editor window, click on the “Shortcut Details” icon to view the list of available options. Select “Pin in Menu Bar” to add the item to the top menu bar.
This will not add the item directly in the menu bar. It will show the Shortcuts app and you have to click and select the item from the list. Though this is one step longer, it is useful when you have list of shortcuts that you want to keep in the menu bar.
Using Shortcuts in Quick Action
You have to two options for using shortcuts in Quick Action. When you enable “Finder” checkbox, you can see the shortcut in the right click context menu. Right click on any file or app and go to “Quick Actions” menu to see your shortcut.
Second option to show the shortcut in “Services Menu”. This is very useful to trigger the shortcut from any app’s “Services” menu. For example, you can go to “Word > Services” menu and trigger the shortcut when working in Word document in your Mac.
You can also add a keyboard shortcut to trigger the shortcut when using as a Quick Action “Finder” and “Services Menu”. Click on the “Add Keyboard Shortcut” button and enter your shortcut key combination.
You can find all shortcuts added to “Quick Actions” and “Menu Bar” from the sidebar menu. With this, you can easily go to any shortcut and toggle the settings whenever needed.
Remember, the keyboard shortcut will work with “Use as Quick Action” option. This is not an independent keyboard shortcut to trigger that workflow. In addition, we recommend avoid using this as it can easily conflict with the default keyboard shortcuts of the apps in Mac.
Additional Options for Using Shortcuts
The options are not limited to only Quick Actions and Menu Bar. You can also trigger the shortcut from your Dock. You can drag and drop the Shortcuts app from your “Applications” folder to Dock. Then right click on it to launch your favorite shortcuts from “Run Shortcut” or “Open Recent” menus.
In addition, you can launch Siri and tell to open the shortcut name to trigger it. In the above example, press Command key and hold Space bar to open Siri and tell “Open CNN”. This will open CNN website in the browser as per the workflow we have setup in the Shortcuts app.
Sharing iCloud Link of Your Shortcut
Finally, you can also share your shortcut by clicking on the “Share” icon.
Choosing any of the option will prompt you to confirm creating an iCloud link.
For example, you can share the link in Notes app and add it to any of your existing note.
When you look at the Notes app, the shortcut link will look like below.
Opening the shortcut link will show the details and click on “Add Shortcut” to include the item in your Shortcuts app.
In this way, you can share your shortcuts with anyone or get anyone’s shortcut link and add to your Shortcuts app. Anytime, you can click on the “Stop Sharing” button and delete the iCloud link to stop sharing the shortcut.
Note: Though shortcuts will be synchronized across devices, settings specific to Mac and iPhone will work only on the corresponding device.