iOS Geekery

Regular Expressions and Shortcuts, Part 3

This post is part of a series on Regular Expressions and their applications in the Shortcuts app.

Regular Expressions and Shortcuts, Part 1

Regular Expressions and Shortcuts, Part 2

Hi, it’s me again, the guy with the terrible regular expression that I keep yammering on and on about:


Last time I explained how (.+\/){1,} works to match file path directories in a file name, like these:


I did not explain, however, why the first part of the regular expression contains ?: inside the first set of parenthesis, like this:


In order to understand this, you have to understand the role of the parenthesis in regular expressions.

First, they do what I said last time they do: group things together for the purposes of applying a subsequent modifier to everything in the group. In our case, because …

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Regular Expressions and Shortcuts, Part 2

Last time, I presented a case in which I wanted to take a list of files complete with file path, and extract just the file name without the extension.

So basically, I get a list of file names that come back like this:


And I want to turn it into the following list instead, by getting rid of the directory paths and the .json file extensions:


I do this in my shortcut using a Match Text action with the following regular expression:


It looks mind-bogglingly weird if you’re not used to regular expressions, and certainly someone skilled with them could probably perform the same task with a much more elegant version, but this does the job for me, and it’s really quite simple. Basically, it looks for strings that match the following: …

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Regular Expressions and Shortcuts, Part 1

Today as I worked on finishing up a major revision to my Blog Post Publish shortcut, it occurred to me that, in a relatively short period of time, I went from struggling to understand regular expressions in general, and how regular expressions worked in Shortcuts in particular, to using them all the time in my shortcuts.

I decided I’d start a series about regular expressions and how to use them productively with the Shortcuts app, not because I’m a genius with regular expressions, but to show that anyone can learn them and that they are indeed useful and powerful when used for creating shortcuts.

Regular Expressions

The term “regular expressions” sounds a little odd, but basically regular expressions are just patterns used for searching text. They are extremely useful for things like extracting specific bits of information from text, for replacing specific things in text, or for validating text input for an app or web …

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Data Jar Drag & Drop

Not too long ago, I wrote about JSON file editing using Shortcuts and Data Jar, but now it’s even better. Never one to rest on his laurels, Simon Støvring added drag and drop data insertion as well as keyboard shortcuts with the past couple TestFlight betas.

I made a super short video showing how easy it is to add a new link to a dictionary of links, for example.

Editing JSON files with Shortcuts and Data Jar

If you visit my links page, you’ll see a bunch of categories with a unique-per-category icon, a category name, and a bunch of links in that category. Each of those categories is generated from its own JSON file. Simple enough.

However, I don’t really want to have to log onto the server, manually edit JSON files, and recompile the site. First of all, directly editing any kind of file like JSON or XML that has tags or characters that are required for it to make sense which can be accidentally deleted is a bad idea. Mistakes get made. Secondly, it’s just easier mentally to view them a different way.

Since I also want to update my git repository after changing something on my site, I like to use shortcuts that will let me download files to edit, or upload new or edited files, and then update my git repositories and compile my site without me having to do anything other than run the shortcut.

In …

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