macOS Menu Bar Shortcuts

Apple’s time-saving Shortcuts app is available on the Mac, and many existing iPhone and iPad workflows work on the desktop too. One of the more useful Shortcuts features is the ability to trigger these actions directly from the menu bar.

What Are Shortcuts on Mac?

The app started life as Workflow before being acquired by Apple in 2017, after which it was rebranded as Shortcuts and released alongside iOS 12. As part of Apple’s annual OS upgrade Shortcuts has finally made it onto Mac, accessible from the Applications folder once you’ve upgraded to macOS Monterey.

You can use Shortcuts to create your own workflows, share them with the world, or simply download pre-existing workflows from the Gallery. On the iPhone the app enables users to combine images, trigger automations with AirTags, and even make your device scream when you plug it in.

Shortcuts isn’t as powerful as some of Apple’s other automation tools, notably Automator. It doesn’t replace AppleScript either, but it is more user-friendly. Shortcuts uses a simple drag and drop interface which makes it accessible, but workflows can get complex.

If you have Shortcuts on your iPhone, any workflows you have downloaded or created will appear on your Mac (assuming you share the same Apple ID on both devices).

RELATED: How to See (and Remove) Devices Linked to Your Apple ID on Your iPhone

How to Trigger Shortcuts From Your Menu Bar

There are a few ways to get Shortcuts into your menu bar, but the icon won’t show up until you have added at least one. When it does, you’ll be able to click on the small Shortcuts icon in the top-right corner of the screen:

The easiest way to do this is to simply download widgets from the Gallery or a web resource like r/Shortcuts. Once you’ve found a Shortcut you want to add, check the description to see if “Appears in Menu Bar” is listed.

Add to macOS Shortcuts app

Click “Add Shortcut” to add the shortcut and it will automatically appear in your menu bar. You can now click on the Shortcuts icon in the top-right corner to launch it:

macOS menu bar Shortcuts list

It’s also easy to tweak a Shortcut to make it accessible from the menu bar or enable the functionality in your own Shortcuts. First, download the Shortcut you want from the web or the Gallery.

Head to the “All Shortcuts” tab and double-click on the Shortcut to edit it.

Edit Shortcut in macOS Shortcuts app

Now click on the “Shortcut Details” icon in the top-right corner of the screen and check “Pin in Menu Bar” under the “Details” tab.

Enable "Pin to Menu Bar" under Shortcut Details

You can also enable other settings here, including allowing Shortcut to appear under the “Quick Actions” right-click menu or assigning a keyboard shortcut. Close the Shortcut and you’ll now see the item listed in the menu bar icon:

Shortcut pinned in Menu Bar

Remember to enable this setting for any Shortcuts that you have created yourself if you want them to appear in this section too.

Do Even More With Automator

Shortcuts is great for its cross-device compatibility which allows workflows to work on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. You can even trigger shortcuts from an Apple Watch if you have one.

Automator is a step up, offering powerful workflows that are designed specifically for Mac. You can do things like batch resize images, quit all open apps, and automate all sorts of repetitive actions.

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Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He has covered a wide range of topics including Apple, security, productivity tips, gaming and more for publications like How-To Geek, Zapier, and MakeUseOf.
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