My Shortcuts for Apple’s Software Update & Public Beta program

Apple's new public beta program for iOS 17 has been released – use these shortcuts to quickly access each update and check the release notes for what's new.

Apple has released their public beta of iOS 17, iPadOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and watchOS 10 today, making their Beta Software Program available to freely download and install – at your own discretion, as this is pre-release software where you may experience bugs.

As part of the beta experience, you will find yourself updating your devices often—especially if you have multiple devices on the betas—plus you’ll want to see what’s new in each update, check on what’s upcoming in the OS overall, and see the release notes once the full updates are published.

Since I’m all aboard the beta train—and a Shortcuts power user—I built out a set of shortcuts to make each of these jobs-to-be-done a little bit easier:

Updating each release

For a few years now, I’ve used a two-step shortcut to quickly access the Software Update page in the Settings app on iOS and iPadOS. In my shortcut, there is a deep link defined from Apple’s URL scheme for Settings that opens to prefs:root=General&path=SOFTWARE_UPDATE_LINK.

Recently, I updated the shortcut to work on macOS as well, opening the Preference Pane file that macOS has long been used to redirect the previously-named System Preferences app to each panel – even now, with the newly-named System Settings app, these files still work.

Checking beta fixes

After installing each update—or perhaps before—it’s useful to check on the release notes for each platform to understand ahead of time any bugs or issues you might run into.

Apple has dedicated pages for each platform, so I combined them all into a Menu shortcut that uses Choose From Menu, the corresponding URL for each page, and Open URLs to quickly access your platform of choice.

Refreshing your memory

As the beta periods continue, one can also find themselves forgetting exactly what’s new – you’ll often get very used to new features quickly, and after a few rounds of updates it can be helpful to look back over the updates.

On the sign-up page for the Beta Software Program, Apple has included links out to their various OS pages, each with sections dedicated to the upcoming releases – my Learn about Apple betas shortcut opens directly to this page so you can quickly access those links. Plus, the shortcut doubles as a way to sign up for the public beta program, if you haven’t signed up yet.

Get the official release notes

Finally, for the detail-oriented group, it can be helpful to actually read the full release notes for Apple’s updates once they’re released in full after the beta periods end – Apple will often detail minor features, bug fixes, or otherwise unmentioned changes to their apps.

For Shortcuts in particular, the release notes pages provide valuable line-by-line changes to the app that are otherwise undetectable, and serve as a marker for when bug fixes are officially implemented (and can be referred to if things go awry later-on).

I have covered the release notes for the Shortcuts app since they’ve been published, using the same search on to check for the latest update (and previous updates) – my shortcut lets you check for yourself as well.

Betas 4 lyfe… or not

Overall, beta life has both its ups and downs – it’s fun to test Apple software ahead of time, but you’ll certainly experience bugs, worse battery life, and what feels like endless software updates.

I find these shortcuts most helpful when run from the Shortcuts widget – I keep one instance of the Medium widget in the sidebar off to the left of my main Home Screen. That way, every other Tuesday when new betas are out, I can easily access the folder and update my devices. Plus, the Software Update shortcut works well in the Menu Bar on Mac as well.

Get the folder of Software Update shortcuts in my Shortcuts Library.

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