We’re very excited to announce the second annual Automation April Shortcuts Contest, which, along with all of Automation April is dedicated to the memory of Alex Hay, the developer of Toolbox Pro and other apps.

As we had hoped when we introduced Automation April last year, the Automation April Shortcuts Contest became the centerpiece of Automation April. Last year, we had over 200 contest submissions across six categories of shortcuts. We received some remarkable shortcuts that showed just how creative and clever this community can be. But best of all, we saw the automation community come together to help each other when they got stuck and share the shortcuts they made.

Like last year, we encourage to you build a shortcut and submit it to the contest whether you’re a Shortcuts expert or just starting out. Shortcuts do not need to be complex to win in one of contest’s categories. That’s true for all the categories, but especially true for the Best Everyday Shortcut category, which we created because we know from experience that some of our most valuable and frequently-used shortcuts are among the simplest.

Our panel of judges will be evaluating submissions based onriginality, performance, design, user experience, and usefulness. Pushing the boundaries of what is possible with Shortcuts is certainly a factor that will be considered in originality, but, at the same time, usefulness doesn’t require complexity, which is something we’ve emphasized often in our writing about Shortcuts. So, no matter your level of experience, we’d love to see what you build.

Entries must be submitted by 5:00 PM Eastern US time on April 17, 2023, so let’s dig into the details.


The Contest

As you have probably gathered from the name, the Automation April Shortcuts Contest is limited to shortcuts built with the Shortcuts app. As I’ll detail more below in the rules, that doesn’t preclude you from using actions that take advantage of scripting and web APIs, but the automation must be a shortcut.

The reason for that is scope. The field of automation is simply too broad to include every type of automation possible and judge them equally well. Plus, Shortcuts is automation on the iPhone and iPad and, as Apple has said, the future of automation on the Mac, so that’s the focus of our contest too.

The Categories

We’ve chosen six categories of shortcuts we’ll be honoring this year:

  • Best Overall Shortcut
  • Best HealthKit Shortcut
  • Best Productivity Shortcut
  • Best Media Shortcut
  • Best Mac-specific Shortcut
  • Best Everyday Shortcut

The one category change we’ve made from last year is replacing Best HomeKit Shortcut with Best HealthKit Shortcut, which was a practical choice, since it can be difficult to judge HomeKit shortcuts based on hardware to which some of our judges may not have access.

The Judges

We’ve been fortunate to have recruited another fantastic group of Shortcuts experts to help us pick the winners in each of the shortcuts categories.

In addition to Federico and I, our judges are:

  • Matthew Cassinelli: Matthew teaches automation with Shortcuts and curates a Shortcuts Catalog at matthewcassinelli.com, and runs a membership program for Shortcuts users.
  • Christopher Lawley: Chris is a YouTube creator covering the iPad and iOS automation and productivity and a photographer, and writes at The Untitled Site.
  • Rosemary Orchard: Rosemary is the co-host of Relay FM’s Automators, Nested Folders, and iOS Today on TWiT, as well as the author of Take Control of Shortcuts and Build Your Own OmniFocus Workflow.
  • Jason Snell: Jason is the founder and editor-in-chief of Six Colors, co-host of Relay FM’s Upgrade, founder of The Incomparable, and columnist at Macworld.
  • Simon Støvring: Simon is a developer of apps that enhance the use of Shortcuts, including Data Jar, Scriptable, and Jayson, as well as the text editor Runestone.
  • Jack Wellborn: Jack is a developer and writer at Worms and Viruses who won Best Overall Shortcut in the 2022 Automation April Shortcuts Contest with his shortcut Join Zoom Meeting.

We’re excited to be working with such a talented group to help us with picking the winners of this year’s contest. Of course, judges may not participate in the Automation April Shortcuts Contest themselves.

The Submission Process

To help us manage the shortcuts submissions process, we’ve built a web app that builds on the membership system we introduced with the relaunch of Club MacStories.

To get started, visit shortcuts.macstories.net. If you’re a Club MacStories member, you can use the ‘Sign In’ button to log into your existing Club account and start the submission process.

If you’re not a Club MacStories member, but you signed up for a free Club account last year to participate in the contest, you can use those credtentials again this year.

Finally, if you’re not a Club MacStories member and are submitting a shortcut to the contest for the first time, you’ll need to sign up for a free Club account using the ‘Sign Up for Free’ button, providing your name and an email address. Submissions received any way other than via the Automation April Shortcuts Contest webpage will not be considered by the judges.

Once your account is set up and you sign in, you’ll see the Automation April Shortcuts Contest rules. Please read through the rules because they address many of the questions that we’ve received from readers. To submit a shortcut for the contest, you’ll need to agree to the rules by selecting the button on the bottom of the page.

Agreeing to the rules will take you to a page with a form for submitting your shortcuts. There are fields for the name of your shortcut, an iCloud link to the shortcut, a list of any third-party actions your shortcut uses, and a description of what your shortcut does and why it’s unique, which is limited to 500 words.

Although you are limited to submitting two shortcuts, your shortcuts can rely on calling other shortcuts that you use to provide blocks of functionality within the shortcut you submit. So, if your main shortcut relies on the Run Shortcut action, please link those subsidiary shortcuts in the description of your shortcut, so the judges can install them and properly test your shortcut.

After you submit a shortcut, you’ll be taken to a page that lists your shortcuts submissions. If you want to edit one of your submissions, you can do so until the close of the contest by selecting the shortcut on this page. However, once the deadline passes, shortcuts cannot be revised.

The deadline for submitting shortcuts is 5 PM Eastern US time on April 17, 2023. Any submissions received after that time will not be considered by the judges.

The Rules

As explained above, your submissions must be shortcuts, although they can incorporate scripts, web APIs, and actions from third-party apps. All scripts, web APIs, and third-party actions on which your shortcut relies must be listed in the space provided in the contest submission form. Please note any special installation requirements in the description of your shortcut submission. Also, your submissions must run on the currently released versions of Apple’s operating systems and must be submitted as iCloud links.

All shortcuts submitted must also respect the privacy, security, and data of users. For example, shortcuts that upload user data without their knowledge and consent will be disqualified.

As you’ll see from the submission form, we ask that you provide a brief description of your shortcut, along with an iCloud link, and a list of any script, web API, and third-party action integrations. You’ve got 500 words to explain to the judges what your shortcut does and what makes it special. Among other qualities, our panel will evaluate submissions based on originality, performance, design, user experience, and usefulness. If you submitted a shortcut last year that didn’t win, you can resubmit it this year if you’d like.

It should go without saying, but all submissions must be your own original work in their entirety. It’s fine if your shortcut was inspired by a technique you saw somewhere else, but shortcuts that copy the work of others will be disqualified. For the same reason, your shortcut should not use the Run Shortcut action to call another shortcut that you didn’t create. If available, please provide links to any blog post, Reddit thread, or other material that supports the originality of your work.

All materials you submit to us in connection with the Automation April Shortcuts Contest are subject to the MacStories Privacy Policy, which was recently updated to address the contest and free Club MacStories accounts. At the conclusion of the contest, winners will be announced on MacStories.net and contacted to arrange delivery of prizes. Within 90 days after that announcement, we will discard all contest submissions.

If you create a free Club MacStories account to participate in the contest, it will remain active after the contest concludes. You’ll be able to use that account to enter future contests and events, and it can always be upgraded to a paid Club MacStories account if you wish. We don’t spam our Club MacStories members and won’t do so if you sign up for a free Club account either, but we will contact you periodically about what’s happening at MacStories. Of course, you’ll be able to unsubscribe from those messages if you choose.

The Prizes

We’ve got some fun prizes for the winners of each category of the contest.

Winner of the Best Overall Shortcut award will receive a Loupedeck Live S and CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4

Winner of the Best Overall Shortcut award will receive a Loupedeck Live S and CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4

Best Overall Shortcut

  • A 3-year subscription (or membership upgrade and/or extension for existing Club members) to Club Premier
  • A Loupedeck Live S
  • A CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4
  • A special Club Macstories+ Discord contest winner role
  • Induction into the Automation April Hall of Fame

Best HealthKit Shortcut, Best Productivity Shortcut, Best Media Shortcut, Best Mac-specific Shortcut and Best Everyday Shortcut

  • A 1-year subscription to Club Premier (or membership upgrade and/or extension for existing Club members)
  • A special Discord category winner role
  • Induction into the Automation April Category Hall of Fame

We hope you enjoy participating in this year’s Automation April Shortcuts Contest as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together. Thanks in advance to our panel of judges for participating in this event, and good luck to everyone.

Enter the contest now through April 17, 2022 at shortcuts.macstories.net.

You can also follow MacStories’ Automation April coverage through our dedicated hub, or subscribe to its RSS feed.

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