You probably spend a lot of time on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac running one task after another across a variety of apps. Think how much time you’d save if you could automate those tasks, or combine them into a single action. You can do all that and more with Apple’s Shortcuts app.
Offering a host of predefined actions, the Shortcuts app provides access to a huge number of existing shortcuts as well as the ability to create and run your own. They work with iOS 12 or higher, but you need to be running iOS 13 and up or iPadOS 13.1 and up to tap into all of the app’s functionality. On your Mac, you’ll need macOS Monterey 12.0 or higher. Many shortcuts can also run on an Apple Watch with watchOS 7 or higher.
Run a Shortcut
The simplest way to trigger a shortcut is to open Shortcuts on your device and tap a shortcut from the main screen. Or ask Siri to run it for you by saying “Hey Siri, [name of shortcut].” As long as you use the same Apple account on all your devices, you can sync the shortcuts you create so they’re available on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Try a Starter Shortcut, such as Take a Break to turn on Do Not Disturb and set an alarm for a certain number of minutes. The Text Last Image shortcut lets you text someone the last photo or screenshot you took on your device, the Shazam shortcut identifies a song you’re currently playing, and the Music Quiz shortcut poses five questions so you can guess which song is playing from your music library.
Other shortcuts can be found in the gallery. Tap Gallery in the app to find different sections with shortcuts you can try. Across the top are categories for Fun & Games with Siri, Starter Shortcuts, Shortcuts for Accessibility, Great with Siri, Wonderful Widget Shortcuts, Shortcuts for Apple Music, and Shortcuts for Sharing.
Additional categories of shortcuts exist on the Gallery page, such as Shortcuts from Your Apps, which suggests shortcuts based on the apps you frequently use. The sections for Get Stuff Done and Get Organized offer productivity-related shortcuts.
The Stay Healthy section provides health-related shortcuts. Check out the On the Interweb section for shortcuts that help you accomplish tasks online.
Tap a category and then select a specific shortcut. Tap Add Shortcut to place the shortcut into your library under All Shortcuts. Choose a shortcut from here to run or ask Siri to run it.
Create a Shortcut
Instead of picking out a pre-existing shortcut, you can also create your own. Select All Shortcuts and hit the plus (+) icon to create a new shortcut. You can create shortcuts to add an event to your calendar, email a contact, search for an address, play music, select certain photos or videos, and much more.
Even better, you can combine several of these tasks into a single shortcut. The app displays suggested actions based on common tasks and on your history. To view additional actions, tap a specific category or select All Actions. For this example, let’s create a shortcut to take a new photo and then email it to someone.
Select the Media category and choose Take Photo. The action appears as the first step in your shortcut. If you’re creating this on an iPhone or iPad, you can select the Camera variable and opt to use the front or back camera or have the action ask you which camera to use each time.
In the right pane, return to the list of categories and select Sharing, then Send Email. To email a new photo to a specific person each time, select the Recipient variable and type the person’s name or email address. To create a specific subject, select the Subject variable and type your text. When finished, tap Done.
To change the name of a shortcut, tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner (on a Mac, right-click the shortcut and select Rename). Select the Name field to change it. From here, you can also edit any of the actions or other elements of a shortcut. When finished, select Done.
Just like a pre-existing shortcut, you can run your custom task by selecting it from the library or saying “Hey, Siri, [name of your shortcut].”
Create Automated Shortcuts
You can also create shortcuts that run automatically by using the app’s Automation feature. From an iPhone or iPad, open the Shortcuts app and tap the Automation tab.
Here, you can select Create Personal Automation to build a shortcut that runs directly on your Apple device or Create Home Automation for one that runs for everyone in a household through a smart home device.
Make a selection, then choose the type of event that will generate a specific action. You can pick from a time of day, alarm, travel time, or certain setting such as Airplane Mode being enabled or your AirPods connecting to your phone. Some events require that you actively perform a task, such as turning Focus or Do Not Disturb mode on or launching a specific app.
As an example, let’s work with Do Not Disturb mode. Maybe you put Do Not Disturb mode on when you go to sleep and then turn it off when you wake up. Now let’s say you’d like music to play automatically when you turn off Do Not Disturb each morning. In the Focus section, select Do Not Disturb. Check When Turning Off and uncheck When Turning On. Tap Next.
From the Actions window, choose one of the suggested actions (if appropriate). Otherwise, tap the Add Action button to view them all. Under Suggestions From Your Apps will be suggested actions based on how you use your device.
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You could run a specific app, launch a script, take a photo or video, get a location, open or edit a file, share something through email or social network, or launch a web page. In this case, tap the Play Music action and then tap Next. Now, tap the Music variable and choose a specific song from your music library to play when you turn off Do Not Disturb.
At the final screen, there is a switch that says Ask Before Running. If this switch is turned on, you’ll have to tap a notification for the shortcut to run. If it’s off, the shortcut will run automatically without prompting you. Try turning it off for this shortcut, then tap Done.
You can test the shortcut by returning to your device’s home screen. Make sure Do Not Disturb mode is on, then turn it off again. A notification tells you the shortcut is running, and your selected song should start playing on your device.
Add Shortcuts to Share Sheet
You can add supported shortcuts to the Share Sheet function built into iOS and iPadOS, which serves as a quick access menu. Open the Gallery in the Shortcuts app and choose the Share Sheet category. Add any of the listed shortcuts you wish. Now, when you open a supported app, such as Safari, you can tap the Share icon. Swipe to the bottom of the menu and you should see the shortcuts you added. Tap a specific shortcut to run it.
Edit Shortcut Details
You can expand a shortcut’s reach by editing its details. On your iPhone or iPad, long-press a shortcut and select Details. Tap Add to Home Screen to add an icon for the shortcut to your home screen. Turn on Show in Share Sheet to add the shortcut to the Share feature.
Turn on Show on Apple Watch to add the shortcut to your watch. In this case, however, the app will tell you whether or not the shortcut uses an action that can run on the watch. You can also pin the shortcut to the menu bar on a Mac and opt to set it up as a Quick Action.
To add widgets for your shortcuts, swipe to the right on your home screen until you reach the Widgets screen. Tap the Edit button at the bottom of the screen and tap the plus (+) icon at the top. Swipe down and select Shortcuts. Cycle through the different layouts for the Shortcuts widget, and tap Add Widget to place the format you prefer.
Run a Shortcut on Your Apple Watch
To run a shortcut on your watch, open the Shortcuts app and tap the shortcut you wish to run. If all of the shortcut’s actions are supported on the watch, then it will likely run directly on the watch. If not, then the shortcut will run on your iPhone.
Find Shortcuts Online
The Good Morning shortcut greets you, shows the news and weather, and then finishes with the app of your choice.
With Good Night, Siri wishes you good night and turns on Do Not Disturb.
The Search on… shortcut makes it easy to choose a particular search engine or site to find information.
With the Airdrop Business Card shortcut, you can send someone your contact information as a virtual business card.
The Get Public Transport shortcut tells you how to get somewhere using public transportation.
The Meditation shortcut allows you to set a specific amount of time to meditate. Your device will activate Do Not Disturb, vibrate to start, and play chimes when your time is up.
Use the Download YouTube shortcut to download whatever current YouTube clip you’re watching. Use this shortcut while playing a video on your device, then tap Share > More > Shortcuts > Download YouTube to save it to your photo album.
Calculate Tip gives you a quick and easy way to figure out a tip. Run the shortcut, then enter the price of the bill and the percentage you’d like to leave as a tip.
Weight Logger calculates your BMI and records your weight in the iOS Health app.
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