A few weeks ago on AppStories, I mentioned to John that I was looking for the “Things of read-later apps”. What I meant is that I wanted to find an app to save articles for later that felt native to Apple platforms, had a reliable text parser, but, more importantly, featured deep Shortcuts integration to let me create automations for saved items. As I followed up after a few episodes, I realized the app I’d been looking for was the excellent GoodLinks, which we’ve covered on MacStories several times before.
Today, GoodLinks developer Ngoc Luu released a small update to the app that, however, cements it as the premier solution for people who want a read-later utility for iOS and iPadOS that also features outstanding Shortcuts support.
With version 1.8.5, GoodLinks joins Cultured Code’s Things app in offering a Shortcuts action that returns the current “state” of the app. Specifically, GoodLinks now comes with a ‘Get Current Link’ action that can be used to get the article that you’re currently reading inside the GoodLinks app. The item that will be returned in Shortcuts is a variable that contains properties for the article such as its title, URL, author, and more.
Additionally, the updated GoodLinks also offers a separate ‘Get Current Selection’ action that can return the currently-selected text in the article view as plain text, Markdown, or HTML.
These actions are interesting for a variety of reasons. At a high level, I’ve long been advocating for third-party Shortcuts actions that support the concept of “state” or “selection” in apps, so I’m happy to see GoodLinks follow in the footsteps of Cultured Code’s pioneering work in this area; more apps should do this. Furthermore, these kinds of Shortcuts actions are ideal candidates for Action button integration on iPhone 15 Pro or placement in the iPadOS dock. If you’re inside the GoodLinks app, you can run a shortcut tied to the Action button or saved to the iPad’s dock and perform something contextually to the article you’re reading. This “contextual automation” is an idea I’ve been developing and refining for a while, and I’ll have more to share soon.
In any case, to demonstrate the power of GoodLinks’ Shortcuts actions, I put together a custom shortcut that I’ve been using to turn articles saved for later into linked posts on MacStories. I call it GoodLinked.
As you can see from the images below, this shortcut gets the current article you’re reading in GoodLinks and extracts different properties from it, such as the title of the story, its author, and URL. Using another action, GoodLinked can see if you’ve selected any text in the article and, if so, save it as your selection. By retrieving the article’s selection as Markdown, I don’t have to do anything else to prepare a blockquote for MacStories.
With this shortcut and the new actions available in the latest GoodLinks update, I can go from reading an article, like this:
…to a draft post in Obsidian, already formatted with placeholders I can tweak before publishing on the site:
This is just an example of what you can build with Shortcuts actions that retrieve the article you’re reading in GoodLinks. You don’t have to be a blogger to take advantage of these actions: perhaps you want to put together a shortcut for the Action button that quickly shares on Threads what you’re reading; maybe you want to clip selected text to a note in Obsidian or Apple Notes. No matter your use case, there is value in being able to process the current state or selection of an app with Shortcuts and create more advanced workflows for all kinds of tasks.
I also wanted to point out some other useful additions in this GoodLinks update. On iPad, you can now open the app’s settings screen with ⌘+, (just like on a Mac); the app now properly supports Dynamic Type and respects the system’s text size (great for Accessibility); if you’ve selected some text in an article, you can also copy the formatted selection from a refreshed context menu:
I’ve long been a fan of GoodLinks, but the app’s newfound Shortcuts integration convinced me that, at this point in my life, it’s the read-later experience I need in my iPad and iPhone workflow. If you, like me, have been looking for a clean, native read-later app that feels right at home on Apple platforms and can be easily automated, look no further than GoodLinks.
Create a draft for a linked post in Obsidian based on the article you’re currently reading in GoodLinks.
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