Build custom checklists in Things from a master list.
I created this to make it easier to build checklists for all the gear I’d need for a shoot. Here’s how it works:
When you run the Shortcut, it asks you for a project name, and a prep date.
It then goes through the master list, category by category, and presents you with a menu for each, where you can select the items you’ll need for the project.
Items ending in (prep) will get assigned a due date of your choice. I put (prep) on cameras that need setup, batteries that need charging, cards or drives that need formatting, etc.
There’s also the opportunity to add any additional items that aren’t on the master list.
Lastly, you have the option to create a second, matching checklist for packing up when the project is complete. This one omits the Prep category.
When you’re done making these selections, the Shortcut creates a text version of the checklist, which is then processed using Drafts 5 and the Things Parser action for Drafts. This creates a nicely-organized Project in Things, with all your items broken down by category.
This works great, and is pretty magical, but it does have a lot of moving parts. Here are some notes on the dependencies:
Things is an elegant to-do list app from Cultured Code. It is simple, but powerful, and offers great Siri and Shortcuts integration. It’s the only mandatory part of this setup that costs money.
Bear is a great app for writing, taking notes, and keeping lists like this. I run it in Markdown-compatibility mode. Bear looks great and has excellent integration with Siri and Shortcuts. It’s free to download and use, and you can use Gear Checklist with the free version. Sync and other features require a subscription.
If you don’t want to use Bear, you can opt to keep your Master List as a text file in your iCloud Drive. This file is securely private to your Apple account, and syncs to your other Apple devices. You can edit it with any number of writing apps.
Whether you chose Bear or iCloud Drive, when you first run Gear Checklist, a sample Master List will be created for you. It’s then up to you to edit it. You can rename the categories and add your own. You don’t even have to use it for “gear” at all.
Drafts is a powerful, extensible app for writing and keeping notes. Its primary power comes from the customizable ways of processing and exporting text. Like Bear, Drafts is free, with additional power unlocked by a paid subscription. As with Bear, you can use Gear Checklist with the free version of Drafts 5.
The engine that creates the Things project from the Shortcut’s output is called Things Parser, and it’s a free Action for Drafts created by Peter Davison-Reiber. I recommend making a couple of small tweaks to this Action—see screenshots above.
Drafts 5 and Things parser are required for this Shortcut, but once you download them you can tuck Drafts away somewhere and they will silently work their magic every time you run Gear Checklist.
This Shortcut keeps a tiny settings file on your iCloud Drive. If you move or delete it, the next time you run Gear Checklist, you’ll be taken through the initial setup process again.
How it Works
No need to read this part unless you’re Shortcuts-curious.
I built a version of this shortcut back when Shortcuts was called Workflow, but it was hard-coded to my gear, stored in lists. The inspiration to base it off a text-based list came so late that I’m almost embarrassed, since I absolutely live doing crazy things with plain text.
Making this work required me to learn more than I’ve known before about Regular Expressions. There’s a lot of text processing in this shortcut.
But the real power of this shortcut still comes from the work of others. That Things Parser action for Drafts is just amazing. It lets me be lazy and disorganized about building up my list of to-dos that I want to appear in Things, and then it just does the right thing with them all, and spits them out as perfect json.
Could I build the json myself in Shortcuts? Absolutely. And that’s the obvious path forward for Gear Checklist—to remove the dependencies on Drafts and Things Parser. I almost didn’t release this shortcut because of the other apps it requires, but some folks asked, so here it is. I’ll be thrilled an delighted if anyone uses it.