An update to my YouTube To Overcast shortcut, thanks to Xipeng Li on Twitter. He updated the shortcut adding a “Get Name” action to pull the title of the video and use it to automatically populate the file name prompt. I made a minor adjustment to his version — changing the file name formatting — and you can find my latest version of the shortcut here.
Having a little one at home means that I’ve found myself more frequently listening to YouTube videos. Throughout the day, I’ll check my subscriptions and my recommended videos, save them to my watch later list, and then listen to them with my AirPods as I rock Josh to sleep for his nap. I pay for YouTube Premium, so I’m able to play videos in the background, but I thought I could do better.
There’s just so many videos on YouTube that don’t really need the video component. Whether they be information videos or talk shows, often times you can get by without the visuals. For those videos, the YouTube app is a bit heavier than what is necessary for listening. Something like Overcast with its Smart Speed feature, is a much better solution. Smart Speed strips silences from the audio, essentially skipping the pauses within a conversation. This allows you to listen to a podcast episode or uploaded audio file in less time, without having the distortion that comes from increasing the speed in the traditional sense.
So I put together a shortcut — Push To Overcast — that lets me download a video from YouTube, convert it to an audio file, and then easily upload it to Overcast.
This does require an Overcast Premium account, which gives you the ability to upload audio files through the website and then listen to the file through the app. It’s not the most elegant solution in the world — just a bit more work moving the file around than I’d prefer. Other podcast clients have the ability to sideload audio files from the Files app or import YouTube videos from Safari. But Overcast is a much better podcast client overall, so I’m willing to put up with this little annoyance.
The shortcut utilizes UPull.me to download the YouTube videos. I don’t know too much about the site or who built it, but it’s the best method I’ve found for downloading videos from YouTube. Every other method I’ve tried has failed with some videos and I’ve never really understood why. UPull.me has worked with everything I’ve thrown at it, though.
Before using the shortcut, you’ll need to add a folder named “Overcast” to the Shortcuts folder of your iCloud Drive. That folder will be used to temporarily store the audio file while uploading.
After initiating the shortcut from the share sheet, the video is downloaded, it’s converted to an audio file, Shortcuts asks you to rename it, and it’s saved to /Shortcuts/Overcast/ — the folder you created above. From there, the shortcut opens the Overcast webpage where you can initiate the upload. After it completes, you tap the “Done” button and the shortcut will automatically delete the file for you.
Here’s a quick little video demo showing how it works:
You can add Push To Overcast to Shortcuts and use it as is or you can make your own modifications and make it work exactly how you want it to. And if you have any ideas for how to improve it, I’d love to hear about them — you can reach out to me with any thoughts you have.
Update 2/20/20:Xipeng Li reached out on Twitter with an updated version of the shortcut. His version grabs the name from the YouTube video and automatically populates it in the file name prompt. I didn’t realize that you could use the “Get Name” action on the contents of a URL. I made a slight change to the formatting of the name prompt that he added — I preferred to omit the “YouTube -“ that he added. If you’d like to use his version, you can find it at the link above or you can download my latest version from here.
Update 7/15/20:Upull.me has made some changes to their APIs that broke the previous version of the shortcut. So I’ve updated the link to a new version that should function again.
I use Screens to manage our home server remotely from my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air. It’s an excellent piece of software and is my favorite VNC app by far. I just discovered that the app supports URL schemes, which means you can launch directly into a saved screen through an automation app like Shortcuts.
I setup a shortcut that is saved to my home screen with two actions:
A URL action with screens://[name of home server]
An Open URL action.
That’s it. Now I can tap on the shortcut and access our home server without having to select it from Screens’ interface.
Steve Troughton-Smith discovered that Catalyst on macOS Catalina includes all the Shortcuts frameworks. And I’ll tell you what, I’d be a lot more productive on the Mac if I had Shortcuts at my disposal. I’ve tried building workflows in Alfred and I’ve played with Automator, but nothing has clicked with me like Shortcuts has.
I’ve been using Day One sporadically for the past year or so, but I’ve been trying to integrate a daily journaling habit into my nighttime routine. With that has come some interest in automating Day One with IFTTT, which is a feature that I hadn’t explored until tonight.
So far I’ve setup a couple of applets in IFTTT — one that creates a new entry whenever I like an article in Instapaper and another that creates an entry every time I publish here on Initial Charge. I’m not sure how much value this will add to Day One, but I’m optimistic. I’m hoping that having a single repository for everything I create will lead to some niceties. For example, the “on this day” feature becomes much more useful when you create entries more consistently.
A nifty little app that lets you time push notifications that, when acted on, will let you run iOS Shortcuts, trigger actions in IFTTT, or open applications with URL schemes. I don’t have much use for it personally, but I’m very glad this exists. Maybe I’ll find a use-case for it in the future.
Have you ever returned home at night with your hands full, having to fumble around in the dark to turn on a light? This was a common occurrence in my house, where there’s no light switches near the entrance from our garage. My wife and I often shop for groceries later in the day and it’s always a pain to get the lights turned on when we’re each carrying five or six bags.
I’d like to show you how we solved that problem, utilizing the automation features in the Home app and an inexpensive HomeKit-compatible power outlet that we plugged our living room lamp into.
I had a lot of fun writing this piece and I couldn’t be happier to have my byline on a site that I’ve read and respected for years. A huge thanks to Josh Ginter, the site’s editor-and-chief, for giving me the opportunity. And I have a couple more articles in their pipeline that you can look forward to seeing soon.
In the past, you used IFTTT by adding Recipes, which were “if this, then that” connections between two services. Today, Recipes have evolved into Applets. Applets can do everything that Recipes could — and much more. They bring your services together, creating new experiences that you can unlock with a single switch.
I really need to spend an afternoon exploring everything that IFTTT has to offer. These updates seem like a perfect opportunity to do just that.