Using Automator to Create Packing List in Things 3 (iOS)

I switched to Things a little over a year ago, and since the release of the Shortcuts app (I never fully got involved in automation with Workflow), I have been dabbling more and more in the automation of things in my life. I have been building a Packing List Shortcut, as I have been traveling more lately.

Currently, when it runs, it asks for input for Trip Name, Start and End date of trip, Location, adds a pre-made packing list with everything (and more) I normally will take when I travel.

The Trip Name creates a new project titled “Packing List - <trip_name>”. The Start and End date just add the dates of the trip to the note section of the project. The location of the trip will add a daily forecast for the trip in the notes section as well.

Issues that I am currently trying to fix / improve. If anyone has input or recommendations to improve this Shortcut, it would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Allow input for work / personal trip - pull from different packing list based on response
    a. Would it make more sense to have a “base list” of items I take on EVERY trip (i.e., luggage, toothbrush, etc) and then add additional items if Work trip is selected?
    b. Or would it make more sense to have two entirely separate lists?

  2. Is there a way to show only the highest AND lowest temperature and weather?
    a. Right now, the response is showing the high temps w/ forecast (rain, cloudy, etc) for next 7 days
    b. I want to be able to pull forecast for only trip dates

  3. I am looking for a way to improve the packing list input
    a. Add items under multiple headings (I have only been able to create a single heading)
    b. Can I create packing lists in Apple Notes, and then the Shortcut will pull from there?

Link to the shortcut in its current form:

Again, any help would be appreciated.

I use Omnifocus, rather than Things, but hopefully can help with a few of these anyway, or provide some ideas.


You can get the high or low by tapping on the ‘forecast’ variable and selecting ‘High’ or ‘Low’ (or whatever other option you want) from the menu that appears. (I think you’ve found that already, based on your note in the shortcut itself.) There is also a ‘Calculate Statistics’ option which you could use to find the overall maximum and minimum.

The built-in Weather action won’t allow you to specify the dates for the forecast but you can use ‘Get Item From List’ after the forecast action to get the temperatures for particular days. However, this is still limited to the 7-day forecast (from the current day). For example if you want the forecast for the first day, you use index 1, and so on. (You could work out which days you needed with some of the Date actions.)

You would probably need to use an API (such as Dark Sky) to get forecasts further out than 7 days if needed–however, I had a (very) brief look and couldn’t see anything that extended out past 14 days. Perhaps there is something that can give you historical weather data as a guide. Of course, the other option is to only generate your packing list a few days before you leave and then this might not be an issue! (This is the kind of thing where I would set up a task on the date as part of a larger travel workflow with a link in the notes to the Shortcut that is used to generate the packing list.)

Packing List Input

I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with the Things URL scheme to speak to multiple headings. But I’m sure someone else here can! (Can Things accept Taskpaper as an input via its URL scheme? If so then this would be relatively easy, but I didn’t see anything in a quick search.)

There are some really good examples of packing list shortcuts that other people have built in this thread: Automators 17: Live at PodCon which do things similar to what you have mentioned.

You definitely should be able to create a packing list in Apple Notes (or a text file, like some of the examples above) and then have the shortcut pull from there. You will just need to use the ‘Find Notes’ action with a specific criteria that will match the correct note. (Rose, I believe, has a Shortcut, or suggested one in one of the episodes (probably the one about changes to Shortcuts when the new notes actions were released), that checks if there is more than one note returned and then prompts you to select from a list if so.) The note will pass its contents into the next action so you could just use this in place of the ‘Text’ action you currently have.


Either of these options would work. It depends on what you need. The only thing I would note is that if you want work items mixed in with your personal items, it’s possibly easier to have two seperate shortcuts, because otherwise the logic can start to get complicated trying to join everything up in the right places.

On a kind of related note, I actually use Drafts for this and because of this I am currently in the process of re-working my template shortcuts to use a Taskpaper template that is able to be stored in Drafts and then be generated by using a dictionary as input to a generic shortcut that conditionally inserts lines, or inserts repeating blocks. I am meaning to write that up somewhere properly once I have finished with it, because I think it makes things easier to work with. That explanation was terrible–but basically if I had a packing list template it could look something like:

 - [[people]]'s passport
 - [[people]]'s international driving licence
 - beanie (?COLD)
 - swimmers (?HOT)

And then I would have a dictionary which contained:

  • the Drafts UUID
  • a ‘PEOPLE’ value with a list of the people going on the trip
  • a ‘cold’ value which was true/false
  • a ‘hot’ value which was true/false
    And that would get passed into the Get Taskpaper from Template shortcut, return Taskpaper text, and be added to Omnifocus using the ‘Add TaskPaper to Omnifocus’. It would include the ‘PEOPLE’ section once for every person in the list, with their name included, and only include the last two options if the respective conditions were true.

It’s not super readable but so far I’ve found it’s better than trying to build complicated templates directly in Shortcuts. Probably if I were better at scripting it might be easier to write a Drafts action, but I started in Shortcuts and so it’s stayed there.

Happy travelling! :slight_smile:

Thank you for the tips and thoughts on it. Your response has given me a few thoughts on how to improve it. I also received a response from davidr ( in another thread with a Shortcut that does almost exactly what I want to do, utilizing a JSON builder which provides more granularity.

I am going to take a little from mine and his, and sprinkle in some of your tips to build one that fits my exact needs.

Thanks for helping out.

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