You Really Need to Set Up Shortcuts on Your Mac

You Really Need to Set Up Shortcuts on Your Mac
Screenshot: Pranay Parab

With macOS 12 Monterey, the Shortcuts app made its debut, enabling automation on iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and HomePods. If you’ve installed Shortcuts on your Mac, you should try some of the best automation routines for your computer. As you do, you’ll benefit from these useful tips to help you make the most of Shortcuts on the Mac.

Update to macOS 12 Monterey for the Shortcuts app

Unlike on iOS and iPadOS, the Shortcuts app is pre-loaded on macOS. All you need to do is go to System Preferences > Software Update and make sure that you’ve updated to macOS 12 Monterey. Once the update is done, click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen and hit About this Mac to verify that you’re on macOS 12.

Once you’ve done that, you can use Spotlight search (or better alternatives) to locate the app. Use the Command+Space Bar shortcut to open up the search bar and look for Shortcuts. You’ll find the app to be similar to its iPhone and iPad versions.

Sync shortcuts from your Mac to your iPhone

Screenshot: Pranay ParabScreenshot: Pranay Parab

Editing complex shortcuts on an iPhone is painful, to say the least. The constant scrolling back and forth can easily drive you up a wall, and in spite of that, enterprising folks from the iPhone automation community have made shortcuts with over a thousand (!) actions. Now that Shortcuts is on the Mac, you can start creating a shortcut on your iPhone or iPad, and edit it on your Mac if it gets too long.

The Shortcuts app has iCloud sync, which you can enable on your Mac by opening the Shortcuts app and navigating to Shortcuts > Preferences > General. You can enable iCloud Sync to make sure that your iPhone shortcuts are synced to the Mac as well. Unfortunately, personal automation routines, which allow you to do cool things like automatically enabling low power mode on the iPhone, aren’t synced across devices.

Import Automator workflows into your Shortcuts app

All of your Automator workflows are saved on your Mac as .workflow files. Locate the workflow that you wish to import and just drag it to the Shortcuts app. The workflow will be imported quickly, and if there are any issues, Shortcuts will notify you which parts you might have to modify. Similarly, importing shortcuts requires you to drag .shortcut files into the app.

Launch shortcuts from the menu bar

Screenshot: Pranay ParabScreenshot: Pranay Parab

Once you’ve armed yourself with a host of shortcuts, you should set them up to run faster. Open the Shortcuts app on your Mac and click the All Shortcuts tab in the left pane. Now you can drag your favourite shortcuts to the Menu Bar tab in the left pane.

Once you’ve done that, click the Menu Bar tab to check that all the shortcuts appear there. Then you can click the Shortcuts icon in the menu bar and you’ll find the shortcuts there. You’ll now be able to launch those shortcuts without opening the app each time.

Add shortcuts to the context menu on Mac

Screenshot: Pranay ParabScreenshot: Pranay Parab

Another way to quickly launch your favourite shortcuts is through the context menu. Apple allows you to add shortcuts to the Services menu, which is revealed when you right-click almost anywhere on your Mac.

To get it done, open the Shortcuts app on your Mac and click the All Shortcuts tab in the left pane. Now drag the shortcuts you need to the Quick Actions tab in the left pane. Once you’ve done that, right-click anywhere on your Mac and select Services to see all of these shortcuts and launch the one you need.

Check that your shortcuts run on your Mac

Screenshot: Pranay ParabScreenshot: Pranay Parab

Shortcuts allows you to easily distinguish between device-specific actions, as illustrated by Matthew Cassinelli on Twitter. If you want to make shortcuts run on both Mac and iOS, you can quickly add an “If” action to your shortcut and select Device Details as the condition. Under Device Details, choose Device Type under the Get sub-menu, choose is as the operator, and select Mac from the list of device types. Now you can add all of your Mac-specific actions under “If” and iOS actions under “Otherwise.”

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