Developed by Adam Tow, LaunchCuts is the newest entry in a sequence of meta-utilities designed to increase Apple’s Shortcuts app with new functionalities. Not like Toolbox Professional and Pushcut, nonetheless, LaunchCuts is essentially the most peculiar and area of interest I’ve examined insofar because it doesn’t present Shortcuts with unique actions nor does it include its personal net service to ship wealthy push notifications; as an alternative, LaunchCuts’ sole goal is to supply another view on your shortcut library with folders and highly effective search filters. When you’ve got lower than 20 shortcuts put in in your iPhone or iPad, you’re doubtless not going to get a lot profit out of LaunchCuts’ superior organizational instruments; however in case you’re like me and use a whole lot of various shortcuts regularly, and particularly in case your library has grown uncontrolled over the previous few years, you’re going to wish the help of LaunchCuts to make sense of all of it.
Just like the aforementioned Shortcuts utilities, LaunchCuts was born of its developer’s frustration with the shortage of folders in Shortcuts – a fundamental function that’s nonetheless bafflingly absent from the app in 2020. As I preserve mentioning in my iOS evaluations, I discover Apple’s persevering with reliance on a crude, one-level-deep grid for shortcuts perplexing at finest – significantly when the app is so very clearly employed by skilled customers who wish to accomplish extra on their iPhones and iPads.
LaunchCuts was initially created by Tow as a sophisticated shortcut that allow you to tag and arrange your shortcuts from throughout the Shortcuts app itself. I keep in mind enjoying round with the unique model of LaunchCuts and, though technically exceptional, I didn’t discover a lot utility in it because it was restricted by the UI constraints of Shortcuts; LaunchCuts was begging to grow to be a fully-fledged app with a customized interface to benefit from Tow’s authentic idea. Now that it’s a local app, LaunchCuts can fulfill Tow’s imaginative and prescient for taming cluttered and disorganized Shortcuts libraries in a manner that wouldn’t have been potential as a shortcut – all whereas profiting from new options in iOS and iPadOS 13.
How It Works
Earlier than I dig any deeper into what you are able to do with LaunchCuts and the way I’ve been utilizing it on my gadgets, it’s vital to grasp the way it works and underline the constraints which are nonetheless in place.
First, LaunchCuts clearly can’t put folders inside Shortcuts: the interface of Apple’s app can’t be modified by third-party builders; LaunchCuts merely creates folders to kind and arrange your shortcuts contained in the standalone LaunchCuts app. Ideally, as I argued many occasions earlier than, Apple ought to simply go forward and add folder assist to the Shortcuts app; till that occurs, LaunchCuts is the very best workaround I’ve discovered so far.
Second, to allow you to declutter and arrange your shortcut library, LaunchCuts must get entry to your shortcuts. That is the place Tow’s app is actually intelligent and restricted on the identical time: LaunchCuts can solely learn information out of your native Shortcuts library by working a further helper shortcut contained in the Shortcuts app. This shortcut relies on a sophisticated approach that makes use of the native, Apple-developed ‘Get My Shortcuts’ motion to generate an inventory of all of your put in shortcuts and extract metadata from every. I’m oversimplifying what the LaunchCuts Helper does, however, basically, the shortcut scans the complete contents of the Shortcuts app and parses particulars such because the names of your shortcuts, their colours and glyphs, whether or not you’re utilizing them as widgets or motion extensions within the share sheet, and even the contents of sure actions contained inside them (extra on this later).
This isn’t a “secret” approach Tow is exploiting for the primary time: ever because the days of Workflow, it’s been potential to get entry to those items of metadata by studying the underlying construction of shortcuts within the XML or .plist codecs. Previously, I used this strategy myself for a few of my superior shortcuts reminiscent of FS Bookmarks and SCL. With LaunchCuts, it’s the primary time this method, standard within the Shortcuts group, is “going mainstream” and gaining a correct UI with a standalone app.
There are caveats to this strategy. Along with being depending on a way that Apple could simply shut off sooner or later (see footnote above), it means you’ll must run the LaunchCuts Helper shortcut manually and periodically to provide the LaunchCuts app a contemporary database together with your newest shortcuts and modifications to current ones. LaunchCuts can’t do that mechanically on a schedule: you’ll should run the helper shortcut your self and wait a number of seconds (relying on the scale of your library) for it to scan all of your shortcuts and replace the contents of the primary LaunchCuts app.
Regardless of this inconvenience, Tow was capable of design a pleasant expertise round this ongoing course of: LaunchCuts’ first-run onboarding is a properly designed guided setup, and the helper shortcut exhibits you in-app notifications to speak progress. Within the LaunchCuts app, you’ve the flexibility to show a big replace button in the midst of the tab bar which, when tapped, hundreds directions on how one can refresh the contents of the LaunchCuts app. You’ll be able to learn extra about how LaunchCuts’ scanning course of works right here; total, I feel Tow was capable of make the very best out of an advanced workaround, abstracting a lot, if not all, of its underlying complexity.
Organizing Shortcuts with LaunchCuts
At a excessive stage, LaunchCuts replicates the look of the Shortcuts library and provides extra choices to Apple’s default grid. Within the LaunchCuts app, your shortcuts will likely be offered with the identical order, colours, and glyphs utilized in Shortcuts; identical to in Apple’s app, you possibly can faucet a shortcut’s tile to run it, or you possibly can press the ellipsis icon to edit it. The distinction right here is that LaunchCuts can’t truly run or edit a shortcut for you in-place: as an alternative, it’ll launch the Shortcuts app and both run a shortcut or open it in enhancing mode.
I recognize how LaunchCuts’ major library view seems identical to Apple’s – the consistency supplies a pleasant continuum from Shortcuts and ensures interactions are acquainted from the get-go. What I like much more, nonetheless, are the additional customization choices out there for the grid in LaunchCuts.
By tapping the search button on the high of LaunchCuts’ grid view, you’ll allow the app’s superior search function. Not like the usual search in Apple’s Shortcuts app, LaunchCuts depends on a sophisticated search algorithm impressed by MsgFiler (the favored e mail search app for Mac), which helps you to discover shortcuts extra rapidly by treating areas as wildcard characters. Say, as an example, that you’ve got a shortcut named ‘Trello Reminder’: to search out it with LaunchCuts, all you need to do is kind
tr re within the search bar, and also you’ll have a match. It takes some time to familiarize your self with this method, however when you’re used to it, it’s laborious to return to Shortcuts’ customary, full-name-only search system.
Even higher, although, is what you are able to do with the kind bar (the three-line icon on the high of the shortcuts view in LaunchCuts). As soon as enabled, the kind bar will allow you to alter the scale of things within the grid with a slider in addition to kind your shortcuts by identify, colour, icon, or measurement.
The flexibility to resize the grid and go from rectangles to tiny squares is a unbelievable enhancement for individuals who have a whole lot of shortcuts of their libraries. The compact grid (there are two ranges of tiles which are smaller than Apple’s default form) makes massive libraries vastly extra manageable at a look; it additionally compensates for the shortage of a fast gesture to scroll to the underside of the grid in LaunchCuts (you are able to do this in Shortcuts by tapping the ‘My Shortcuts’ tab). In my assessments, scrolling efficiency within the information-dense grid with a whole lot of shortcuts has been strong, and that is exactly the type of power-user addition I’d like to see within the Shortcuts app ultimately.
However there’s extra: with the flexibility to kind your shortcuts by completely different standards, you’ll be capable to, say, group them by colour or discover the “bigger” ones that include heavy Base64 actions. All of those choices are in service of organizing your library, whether or not it’s about discovering shortcuts so as to add to folders in LaunchCuts or these you wish to do away with. I haven’t used the flexibility to kind by identify and icon a lot, however the ‘Dimension’ and ‘Colour’ filters have turn out to be useful to search out and delete shortcuts I created years in the past – they had been cluttering my library, however I’d forgotten their identify and so they had been difficult to search out amongst ~470 different entries within the Shortcuts app.
Talking of colours: in case you, like me, nonetheless can’t get used to the boring, boring pastel colours of Shortcuts in iOS 13, LaunchCuts can optionally use the older, higher, brilliant colours of iOS 12.
I nonetheless keep the older iOS 12 colours are extra vibrant, enjoyable, and recognizable than what Apple shipped in iOS 13, and I hope the corporate will ultimately reverse their determination on this. The argument that “Apple modified colours due to darkish mode” – a frequent reply to my feedback on Shortcuts’ new colours – doesn’t maintain a lot worth once you see how pleasingly wonderful LaunchCuts’ brilliant colours look in darkish mode:
There are two different options value mentioning in the primary shortcuts view. You’ll be able to long-press a shortcut to disclose a context menu with choices to manually add it to a folder (extra under), replace metadata for that particular shortcut, or open Shortcuts in both run or edit mode.
Should you’re an iPad person and work with an exterior keyboard, you’ll be pleased to know that LaunchCuts comes with a superb choice of customizable keyboards shortcuts. Along with a set of default instructions to set off a number of the app’s core options (reminiscent of creating folders or refreshing the library), you possibly can assign as much as 10 customized shortcuts to folders (⌘zero…9) and 10 to particular person shortcuts (⌘⌥zero…9). These keyboard shortcuts significantly pace up interactions with the app, permitting you to navigate between folders and run particular shortcuts with only a couple keystrokes. Moreover, instructions you assign in LaunchCuts’ settings are mirrored within the app’s keyboard cheat sheet (displayed by holding down the ⌘ key), which is a pleasant contact.
Folders are LaunchCuts’ major function and, I think, the rationale why most Shortcuts energy customers could wish to try the app at present. There are, basically, two methods to create folders in LaunchCuts, that are paying homage to the macOS Finder: you possibly can create common folders and manually assign particular shortcuts to them; or you possibly can create good folders, that are mechanically populated with shortcuts that match sure filtering standards. As I discussed above, folders you create in LaunchCuts sync between gadgets with iCloud, however they won’t seem within the Shortcuts app – they’re a LaunchCuts-exclusive function. The app remembers the shortcuts you’ve assigned to folders, so even in case you refresh the library with the LaunchCuts Helper shortcut, it won’t neglect or reset the contents of your folders.
The flexibility to create common folders is what I’ve at all times needed from Workflow, then Shortcuts, and it’s been applied effectively in LaunchCuts. I shouldn’t have to clarify why organizing a library of things in folders is a good suggestion in 2020, however right here we’re: I like that I can now discover my job administration shortcuts in a ‘Reminders’ folder; equally, all of the shortcuts I take advantage of for my tales are actually properly organized in an ‘Article Instruments’ folder, which makes it simple for me to search out and both run or edit a shortcut I’m searching for. Even higher, LaunchCuts’ view choices are utilized on a per-folder foundation, so I can have a compact grid view in a single folder, an ordinary view with bigger tiles in one other, and so forth.
Good folders take the thought of folders a step additional to attain the dream setup of any heavy Shortcuts person. Similar to good folders in macOS (or the good folders seen in iOS apps reminiscent of iA Author or Maintain It), you possibly can create folders that mechanically acquire shortcuts matching all or any pre-configured situations. These embody colours, icons, whether or not a shortcut is enabled as a widget or motion extension, or – my favourite – tags. As defined within the app’s documentation right here, the tagging function permits you to add customized tags to your shortcuts by inserting a particular syntax in a ‘Remark’ motion inside a shortcut. In my case, I created tags for ‘Reminders’, ‘Time Monitoring’, ‘Articles’, and ‘HomePod’, which grew to become filters for good folders which are mechanically full of shortcuts that include these tags. Now every time I create a brand new time monitoring shortcut, I add the ‘Time Monitoring’ tag to the very high of the editor; the following time I refresh the LaunchCuts library, I do know that shortcut will find yourself within the Time Monitoring good folder.
The flexibility to prepare shortcuts with good folders opens prospects that transcend tagging alone. Need to create a sensible folder that lists all of the shortcuts you’ve enabled as widgets? Simple to do with LaunchCuts: create a sensible folder, flip the ‘Widget’ toggle within the folder’s configuration display (accessed with the ellipsis icon on the high of a folder), and save. The folder will now present you all of the shortcuts you’ve activated for the Shortcuts app’s widget, supplying you with a fast technique to see them and, if crucial, delete some.
Much more helpful, for my part, is how one can create a sensible folder for shortcuts which were enabled as extensions within the share sheet. Apple’s Shortcuts app doesn’t include any filter by any means to handle share sheet-enabled shortcuts; with LaunchCuts, not solely are you able to create a sensible folder that lists all of your share sheet shortcuts, however you possibly can even filter them by kind. This implies you possibly can, in idea, create a sensible folder that solely shows shortcuts that obtain photographs from the share sheet or those who take care of Maps places and App Retailer content material. Should you’ve ever discovered your self having too many shortcuts seem within the share sheet for Safari or Photographs, these type-specific good folders are an amazing answer to group all of them collectively, open every one within the Shortcuts app, and edit them.
You may as well benefit from good folders to assemble customized views that allow you to browse your shortcut library from a special perspective. For instance, I created a ‘Newest’ good folder that makes use of the ‘All Shortcuts’ filter to load all shortcuts (just like the default view of the app), with the distinction that shortcuts are sorted from latest to oldest, which saves me quite a lot of time when opening the newest shortcuts I’m engaged on. (You’ll be able to change sorting order by tapping the arrow button contained in the search bar.) Equally, I’ve created a ‘Not Filed’ good folder that solely exhibits me shortcuts I haven’t added to any folder but. I’ve been utilizing this one to trace my progress by way of folder group in addition to to search out previous shortcuts I now not use, and it’s a pleasant addition to my folder construction.
I saved the very best for final, although. Along with view choices, sorting options, folders, and good folders, LaunchCuts comes with one other important performance that’s surprisingly absent from Shortcuts: multiwindow integration in iPadOS 13. With LaunchCuts, you possibly can open a number of home windows, every loading the contents of a folder of your selection, and browse your library in quite a lot of completely different views. The app is totally suitable with Break up View and Slide Over, after all, so you possibly can create a number of areas that load completely different subsets of shortcuts.
Within the weeks I’ve been testing LaunchCuts, I’ve settled on a few fascinating use instances for a number of home windows. I principally use LaunchCuts as my major view for shortcuts lately, however I nonetheless want to have the ability to open and edit shortcuts within the Shortcuts app. To do that, I’ve a Break up View house with LaunchCuts on the left and Shortcuts on the suitable; every time I faucet a shortcut in LaunchCuts, the editor view for the corresponding merchandise opens immediately within the Shortcuts app on the opposite aspect of the display, making the method of enhancing a number of shortcuts infinitely higher than utilizing the Shortcuts app alone.
I additionally created a second house with my ‘All’ and ‘Newest’ good folders working side-by-side in Break up View. This manner, I can see each my oldest and latest shortcuts onscreen concurrently, which saves me time I’d have in any other case spent scrolling or looking within the Shortcuts app.
LaunchCuts: A Higher Entrance-Finish for Shortcuts
LaunchCuts needs to grow to be another front-end for the Shortcuts app, and it largely succeeds. When you begin organizing your library with folders, it’s laborious to return to Shortcuts’ inflexible, plain grid of shortcuts. Developer Adam Tow did an impressive job implementing folder assist by borrowing from the core tenets of the macOS Finder, with view/sorting choices that stick on a per-folder foundation and filtering standards that allow you to craft your individual customized views. Assist for iPad multiwindow and keyboard shortcuts is the cherry on high of a candy package deal that confirms, as soon as once more, simply how a lot is left to enhance within the Shortcuts app for energy customers.
By its personal nature, LaunchCuts is an app constructed on high of a sequence of workarounds for Shortcuts, all wrapped inside a sublime utility that tries its finest to cover complexity from customers. There’s nothing Tow can do about the truth that LaunchCuts requires a helper shortcut that has to run periodically; as energy customers, we must always commend the developer’s creativity in developing with these methods, that are offered to customers virtually as in the event that they had been native options of the Shortcuts app.
In my assessments, I’ve skilled the occasional crash when including a shortcut to a folder, and I’ve seen that folders in LaunchCuts usually take greater than a second to load, however these points weren’t showstoppers for me. iCloud sync for folders labored reliably between my iPhone and iPad; although having to run the helper shortcut each infrequently is annoying, I’m impressed by how seamless the method is, so it’s a limitation I can reside with for the better good thing about utilizing LaunchCuts.
Due to LaunchCuts, I used to be capable of clear up my Shortcuts library over the vacations: with a mix of superior search and folders, I went from a convoluted mess of roughly 470 shortcuts to a neatly-organized assortment of 270 gadgets, most of them sorted in folders and simply accessible from LaunchCuts. I can’t say I’ve stopped utilizing the Shortcuts app – that’s unattainable since you continue to must edit and run shortcuts inside Apple’s app; nonetheless, lately I are likely to faucet the LaunchCuts icon after I’m searching for a shortcut to run rapidly, and I depend on the app on the subject of organizing my library and contemplating which shortcut I wish to work on subsequent.
In an excellent state of affairs, an app like LaunchCuts shouldn’t be crucial. However given Apple’s reluctance so as to add options reminiscent of multiwindow, higher search instruments, or folders, LaunchCuts, regardless of its trade-offs, is the most suitable choice we’ve got at present so far as organizing and launching shortcuts goes. Should you’re a Shortcuts energy person, you want LaunchCuts in your House display.
LaunchCuts is out there on the App Retailer at $7.99. You’ll be able to learn its (very detailed) documentation right here.