a photo of a computer monitor with Apple Shortcuts, Things 3 and a TextEdit document open.

Here’s a Markdown–to–Things 3 Apple Shortcut task parser

In Markdown, starting lines with – [ ] or – [x] ) creates task checkboxes. I use this syntax often in other programs, too many programs, too many places, so end up with various unfinished tasks littered throughout my digital landscape. I cooked up an Apple Shortcut that takes those tasks and imports them into Things 3.

Some particulars: this shortcut uses two colons with a space on either side to separate text into the Things 3 notes field. It also looks for particular emoji (📖 and 🔎) to determine if it should place the task into a project list or not. It also uses Cultured Code’s Things 3 Link Builder, which offers even more customization. It works when used on plain text and text files, but runs into trouble with rendered Markdown tasks (especially in Bear).

The following task list would be parsed to put items 1 and 4 in the logbook, item 2 in my Recommendations list, and item 5–7 in my Questions/Curiosities list.1 Item 3 would show up in the Things Inbox.

- [x] Eat Breakfast
- [ ] Read Braiding Sweetgrass :: Halley recommended it 📖
- [ ] Read The Hidden Spring
- [x] Publish the markdown-to-things shortcut
- [ ] Are there bears in SoCal 🔎
- [ ] Elif in Apple Shortcuts :: is there an easier way to do an 'elif'? 🔎
- [ ] Are there mountain lions in Los Feliz 🔎

I hope this is helpful to someone! And I’m just getting started with Apple Shortcuts, so if you know of a simpler way of doing any of the steps, feel free to comment. Other things someone might want to figure out how to do would be devise a way of parsing deadlines, putting something on the ‘Today’ list, and making sure that the task doesn’t currently exist.

  1. Although in this public version, I’ve replaced those list’s IDs with a stand-in which you’ll need to replace. ↩︎

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