Using Shortcuts App with Things

You can use Apple Shortcuts together with Things to create workflows that enhance your productivity.

You’ll build all your shortcuts inside Apple’s Shortcuts app. A shortcut is composed of one or more actions, and Things makes four actions available to you:

  • Add To-Do
  • Show To-Do
  • Show List
  • Run Things URL

These actions are your building blocks. They can be used on their own to create simple shortcuts just for Things, or you can string them together with actions from other apps in more complex workflows.

In their simplest form, shortcuts can do things like:

  • Create a to-do in a specific list.
  • Create a to-do based on the contents of your clipboard.
  • Open a list that’s automatically filtered by a tag.

Below you’ll find more examples and some ready-made shortcuts that you can download and try out immediately.

Shortcuts is a very powerful app and this page assumes that you have a basic understanding of it. If you need help to get started, please read Apple’s documentation.

Add to-dos

Each of the four actions that Things provides has parameters. You can either pre-set the content of those parameters, so that the action’s output is always the same, or you can use variables if the content of the parameters keeps changing every time your shortcut runs.

  1. Create a new shortcut in Apple’s Shortcuts app.
  2. Use Things’ Add To-Do action.
  3. Adjust the parameters.
  4. Give your shortcut a memorable name.
Left: Setting up the shortcut in Apple’s Shortcuts app. Right: In Things, the content of the clipboard has been inserted into the title of the new to-do. The project and tag are already pre-set according to the shortcut.
Presets

Pre-set parts of your to-do

If you find that you create similar to-dos over and over, presets can help you speed up that process. Here’s a generic sample. It will add a new to-do to your Today list.

Pre-set everything in your new to-do

In some situations, you’ll want your to-do to be an exact copy of something you’ve done in the past. Everything – from the title to the notes, tags, checklist and area/project – will be the same.

Such shortcuts can serve as templates, for example when you quickly want to re-generate the packing list for your next business trip or run through a checklist when preparing a new class for your students.

Need a project instead of a to-do? That’s something you can do via our Link Builder or JSON in combination with the Run Things URLaction. Learn more here.

Variables

While presets allow you to define some parameters before you even run the shortcut, variables allow you to set a parameter’s content at the time when the shortcut runs. Here are two examples:

Clipboard content

When to-dos come to you from other sources – emails, notes, websites, etc. – you can copy text to the clipboard and run your shortcut.

Text with line breaks will be processed intelligently when you add the Clipboard variable to one of the following parameters:

  • Title: the first line will be added as the title, the rest will be added to the notes section.
  • Notes: the entire clipboard content will be added to the notes.
  • Checklist: each line of your text will become its own checklist item.

Conversational Shortcuts

If you prefer the greatest flexibility, you can engage in a conversation with Siri. In a back-and-forth, Apple’s AI can ask you about each part of the to-do.

To trigger questions from Siri, insert the Ask Each Time variable into a parameter, like the title or checklist field.

1. Due to a bug in iOS 14, 'Ask Each Time' for lists is currently not available. 2. When you speak your checklist items, separate them by saying “new line”: milk new line bread new line butter

Presets and variables are not exclusive: you can combine both inside a single Things action for maximum efficiency.

iPhone shortcuts will not work on iPad and vice versa. If you want a “universal” (single) shortcut that’ll work on both devices, read this. If this is the first time you ever downloaded a shortcut, follow this guide to add an “untrusted” shortcut.

Show lists

This action allows you to launch Things directly to a project, area, or the view for a specific tag. You can also jump directly into one of our default time-based lists.

  1. Create a new shortcut in Apple’s Shortcuts app.
  2. Use Things’ Show List action.
  3. Tap Today to select a list.
  4. Optionally, filter your list by tag.
  5. Give your shortcut a memorable name.

Here are a few ideas where a shortcut can help you reduce taps:

  • Open Today filtered by your important tag.
  • Preset a project that you need to consult all the time.
  • Open Things to the search results of a tag, like a the name of a colleague that you work with closely.

To help you get an idea of how it works, here’s a shortcut to jump to the Tomorrow list, which is a Quick Find list for all the to-dos you’ve planned for the next day.

iPhone shortcuts will not work on iPad and vice versa. If you want a “universal” (single) shortcut that’ll work on both devices, read this. If this is the first time you ever downloaded a shortcut, follow this guide to add an “untrusted” shortcut.

Run Things URL

We provide extensive documentation about Things’ URL scheme for advanced users.

One useful application of this action is its ability to create Projects, which can be done quite easily via the Link Builder. If you want to take it further and create a project with headings or to-dos with checklists, the JSON documentation will help you set this up.

Universal shortcuts for iPhone and iPad

Things for iPad and iPhone are technically two different apps, which means that any Things actions you create on an iPhone won’t work on an iPad and vice versa.

You can work around this limitation by querying the Device Model, then use an If statement to run the correct action for each respective device.

Here are two samples to help you get started:

Some shortcuts that you created on iPhone will also work with Apple Watch. Keep in mind that while you can create to-dos for all lists on Apple Watch, you can only view to-dos from Today on it.




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