How to Start Using the Shortcuts App for macOS

The Shortcuts app is quite popular among iPhone and iPad users. It comes preinstalled on iOS and iPadOS devices, and it lets you perform complex tasks with the apps on your device. Since macOS Monterey, Shortcuts is now also on Mac.

In addition to the hundreds of new pre-built shortcuts made specifically for the Mac, you can also run compatible iPhone and iPad shortcuts. And if that’s not enough, you can create a custom shortcut from scratch. Here, we’ll look at how you can use the Shortcuts app to find, install, and create new shortcuts on your Mac.

How to Find and Run Shortcuts for macOS

When you launch the Shortcuts app on your Mac for the first time, you won’t find anything other than a couple of starter shortcuts on the home page. However, the app will display the handy shortcuts you’ve installed on your iPhone or iPad. If you want to add pre-built shortcuts, you can do so from the Shortcuts Gallery.

Follow these simple instructions to find and install a new shortcut:

  1. Launch the Shortcuts app on your Mac and click on Gallery from the left pane.

  2. You can use the search field in the upper-right corner to find a shortcut that you like. Or, you can simply scroll through the Gallery.
  3. Once you’ve found a shortcut, click on the plus (+) icon to add it to your Mac.
  4. Now, head over to the All Shortcuts section on the left pane.
  5. Click the play button on the shortcut to run the task on your system.
    Running an installed shortcut in macOS Monterey

Besides this old-school approach, you can also use Siri to run shortcuts on your Mac. Say, “Hey Siri,” followed by the name of the shortcut to perform tasks with just your voice. Depending on the shortcut, you may get a notification when the app has performed the task.

You can also assign a macOS shortcut to a keyboard shortcut and run it far more easily. To do this, double-click on a shortcut and click the three sliders icon, then click Add Keyboard Shortcut. Press the key combination you want as the keyboard shortcut (remember that remapping your Mac’s function keys can be really useful), and you’ll be good to go.

You can repeat the steps we listed above to find and install other macOS shortcuts from the Gallery section. However, if you’re not impressed with the collection, you have the choice to install untrusted shortcuts created by other users directly from the web. And if you aren’t sure where to start, check out these macOS shortcuts that will boost your productivity.

Lastly, if you no longer need a shortcut and wish to remove it from your system, just right-click on it and choose Delete from the context menu.

How to Create New Shortcuts for macOS

Finding and installing pre-built shortcuts is pretty straightforward, but if you want to take things up a notch, you can always build a new shortcut from scratch, provided you have the patience for it.

Making a shortcut on a Mac is a lot like making a shortcut on your iPhone. Depending on the task you want the shortcut to perform, the steps can get complicated.

Here, we’ll keep it simple and help you with the basics of creating a new shortcut in the Shortcuts app. Let’s get started:

  1. Launch the Shortcuts app and make sure you’re in the My Shortcuts section.
  2. Now, click on the plus (+) icon in the upper-right corner of the window.
    Creating a new shortcut in macOS Monterey

  3. You’ll now see the shortcut editor on your screen, with a list of various actions on the right pane. You can drag and drop the actions you want into the editor.
  4. Depending on the action you added, you may have the option to customize it further. For example, the Send Message action will let you enter the message and select the contact you want to send it to.
  5. If you want the shortcut to automate tasks without asking for your permission, click on Show More next to an action and then uncheck Show When Run.
  6. When you’re ready to check if the shortcut works, click on the play button in the upper-right corner of the window to run it.
    Adding actions to a shortcut in macOS Monterey

If the app executes all the tasks correctly, it’s safe to say you did a great job creating your first shortcut. And if it doesn’t, take your time to go through all the actions to see if you missed anything. Although this is just a basic example, you have endless ways to be creative with custom shortcuts on your Mac.

A Note on Automation in Shortcuts for macOS

If you’re used to the Shortcuts iPhone and iPad app, you may notice the Automation tab isn’t available in the Mac Shortcuts app.

Technically, all the shortcuts you make in the macOS Shortcuts app automate actions on your computer. But Automation in the Shortcuts app for iPhone/iPad lets shortcuts activate from changes in conditions in addition to manual activation.

You can have an iPhone shortcut automatically run when you leave your house, for example, or when you get a message from a particular contact. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the Mac version of Shortcuts does not have these same automation features built into it. However, macOS has a built-in Automator tool you can use in many ways to achieve the same goal, but a simpler iPhone/iPad-like experience is something we’d like to see integrated into the Shortcuts app.

Let the Shortcuts App Bring Out Your Creative Side

While beginners will be perfectly happy with finding and running shortcuts from the Gallery, advanced users can enable AppleScript and shell script compatibility in the Shortcuts app. And if you’re already familiar with Automator, you’ll be pleased to know that you can quickly convert all your workflows into shortcuts.

With cross-device management and automatic sync, you can manage and edit the shortcuts you create from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

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