Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

This Week's Sponsor

Save 20% on the award-winning Audio Hijack with coupon code 6C20AH!

By Jason Snell

Tip: Make Shortcuts into Mac Apps (sort of)

Note: This story has not been updated since 2021.

This week, thanks to an article by John Voorhees at MacStories about integrating Shortcuts with the Elgato Stream Deck, I discovered an incredibly useful tip about Shortcuts integration on the Mac.

Shortcuts show up in a few places in macOS Monterey: in the menu bar, in the Services menu, and in Finder Quick Actions. Strangely, while on iOS you can save a shortcut as a home-screen icon, there’s no option on the Mac to save a shortcut into the file system… or is there?

As John wrote (and then expanded on in the latest MacStories Weekly), Shortcuts on Mac also lets you add any shortcut to the Dock. It’s a bit hidden—you need to select or open a shortcut and then choose Add to Dock from the File menu. At that point, not only will the shortcut appear in your Dock, but it will also be saved to ~/Applications.

Now, what most Mac users think of as the Applications folder lives at the top level of your Mac’s boot drive. While there’s also an Applications folder inside your user folder—and in the early days of Mac OS X there was a real debate about where best to install software on a Mac—it’s largely unused.

But that’s where Shortcuts saves a link to your shortcut. (Unlike AppleScript scripts or Automator actions, the actual code of shortcuts doesn’t reside in the file—it’s safe in your Mac’s Shortcuts database.) If you use any app launcher that is capable of indexing ~/Applications, you can save shortcuts there and they’ll be available for quick launching. John’s example uses Alfred, but I was able to add that path to LaunchBar, and it worked too.

(Yes, there’s also a LaunchBar Action by Christian Bender that will automatically add a Run Shortcut action to LaunchBar—and it automatically indexes your list of shortcuts, so every single one is available without needing to add it to the Dock.)

Bit by bit, it’s exciting to see ways that Shortcuts is starting to reach out into how I use my Mac. It’s still early days, but the progress so far has been impressive.

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.

Search Six Colors