We’re big fans of Apple’s Shortcuts app. It’s a time-saving widget-maker that’s really fun to experiment with. Think of Shortcuts as an in-phone version of If This Then That, which gets your iPhone’s apps to work together in a sequence to generate a useful action. There are official Apple-created Shortcuts and user-generated ones too. Some Shortcuts bring Siri voice control into the mix, such as the fun “Say Cheese” Shortcut which lets you grab a hands-free photo by saying “Siri, say cheese” to your phone.
A classic example of an official Shortcut that you tap to activate is the “Home ETA” Shortcut. No matter where you are, this Shortcut uses the Maps app to see where you’re at, looks at your pre-programmed home address to see how long it will take you to get there, then uses your Messages app to generate an SMS with your ETA, and sends this information to a pre-selected contact. So, once you’ve initially entered the required data in the Shortcut sequence, all this happens by simply tapping on the Shortcut in your Shortcuts library.
There are hundreds of other great examples in Apple’s Shortcuts Gallery, as well as other Shortcuts that other users have created and shared, from the ability to countdown to a special day to being able to find the perfect GIF for any situation.
Getting started with Shortcuts on iPhone
Shortcuts is now pre-installed as standard on any devices running at least iOS 13, but anyone on an older version of the mobile operating system will have to download the app from the App Store. It’s available for both the iPhone and the iPad.
If you want to add third-party Shortcuts, you’ll have to go through an approval screen on iOS 12. iOS 13 and 14 users need to head to their Settings to manually “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.”
There’s always a risk doing this, but as you can view (and edit) the Shortcut steps of each Shortcut you add to your phone, the danger is pretty minimal, as long as you know you’re downloading a genuine Shortcuts iCloud link.
Add these useful Shortcuts to your iOS toolbox
From locating essential services near you to saving time creating visual content to enjoying your music seamlessly, here is a fantastically random selection of the best Shortcuts we recommend you check out. You can use Shortcuts to…
Search GIPHY and Share offers you a super-speedy way to find just the right GIF for any occasion and send it via the usual channels, or to your social media platforms. Simply tap the Shortcut, enter the word or phrase you want to depict, select from the options, and share away.
Make Top 25 Playlist does just that. If you want a one-touch solution to hearing your fave music, this widget analyzes which tunes you’ve listened to most in your Music app and automatically generates a playlist of what is presumably your current top tracks.
Speed Dial allows you to create an app tile for your iPhone’s home screen which, when you tap on it, calls the person in your contacts you’ve selected. What’s even more awesome is you can select a photo (or customized icon design) to show on the tile.
iPhone Notifications has a rather silly default to automatically send 500 notifications, but you can adjust the amount in the app to a more believable number. If you’re looking for an excuse to leave, stop chatting, get off the phone, look popular, or whatever, covertly tapping on this Shortcut will instigate the text alert audio as many times as you tell it.
Calculate Tip is great for anyone who struggles with mental arithmetic and is worried about looking mean by leaving too little or overspending by leaving too much. Enter the amount of the check and this Shortcut tells you the tip amount and what the new total will be.
DND Until I Leave offers a really quick way to turn on your iPhone’s Do Not Disturb functionality. Rather than fuss around with your Settings menu, one tap of this Shortcut turns on Do Not Disturb until you physically leave your current location.
Shoot a GIF helps you create a down and dirty photo-based GIF whenever you like. You can choose how many frames you want to capture and how long you want each photo to display, then use the front or back camera to create your slideshow and share straightaway.
Walk to Coffee Shop instantly loads up directions to your nearest java hub. However, you can change the type of business to anything. Customize it to find your nearest book shop, grocery store, public restrooms, or anything that would be useful to you that you look up often.
Play an Album lets you create a Shortcut to a particular record. While this may not be an amazing tool for grownups, if you have music on your phone your child likes to listen to, you can add a one-tap button on your home screen so they don’t have to mess around in your Music app to find what they are looking for.
Remind Me at Work is designed to do just that — send you a Reminder when you hit your pre-selected workplace. However, if you set your workplace to your grocery store, and add your shopping list, you’ll get an automatic Reminder of items you need to buy when you hit the store.
In Case of Emergency is the next-gen interpretation of adding an “ICE” contact. This Shortcut will send an initial message to your chosen emergency contacts with your location, send a second message to other key contacts if required, and display a message on your phone screen for first responders to see.
Sitcom Laugh is a total novelty, but it has its uses in comedy situations. If you’ve always wanted your own laugh track to play as you deliver your side-splittingly hilarious punchlines, this app is for you. Hit the button for instant applause.
Wake Apple TV is a life-saver if you can’t find the tiny remote, or can’t be bothered to move from the couch. If the television that the Apple TV is connected to supports HDMI-CEC connectivity (and most recent ones do) then this Shortcut will turn on your TV, too.
Photo Grid is a quick and simple way to turn multiple images from your iPhone’s Camera Roll into a collage, and then share them quickly and easily. You simply select the images you’d like to use, wait for the preview to load, then share it.
Home ETA looks at your current location, sees how far away you are from your pre-loaded home address, and calculates how long it will take you to return to base. It then messages a pre-selected contact to give them your ETA.
AirDrop Screenshot sends the very latest screenshot you’ve grabbed to another iDevice via AirDrop. If no devices are found, this Shortcut brings up the standard sharing choices to give you other options.
Say Cheese is a brilliantly named Shortcut that uses the Siri integration to grab a snap from your iPhone’s camera. For iOS 13 users, if you “Say Cheese” to Siri it will launch the Shortcut and take a hands-free photo. Note: This is not fully functional for all iOS 12 users.
Message This Song works with your Shazam app to identify a song. It creates a message with the artist’s name and the song title pre-loaded, so you can share it with a friend or send it to yourself.
Special Day Countdown lets you see how long it is until a “Special Day” in your life. Whether you want to see how many days until a birthday, or a holiday, or you just can’t wait for your next night out with your besties, this app will reveal how long is left and gives you the option to message this update to others.
Washing Hands Music helps you (and/or your kids) with good hand-washing hygiene. Sure, you can actually count up to 20 or sing “Happy Birthday” twice, but tapping a widget to play a correctly timed snippet of one of the songs from your own music library is way cooler.
Random Number Generator will take the brain-strain out of coming up with random numbers. Obviously we’re joking about the lottery, but you can use this simple tool to generate numbers at random for lotto tickets, to pick competition winners, to create passwords, and more.
Shortcuts really shines for iOS 13 and iOS 14 users, but anyone still stuck on iOS 12 might not get the best out of all these Shortcuts. If, when you click on an iCloud link, your phone keeps opening the App Store instead of the Shortcuts app, try opening the link in your iPhone’s Safari browser. That should do the trick.
Shortcuts that make the cut
While some of these Shortcuts don’t represent a major time-saving, it’s pretty cool to have little widgets that can automate app actions for you. Some of them are just for fun, others can prove really useful in everyday life, and a few of them could even save your life. Once you’ve explored the options we’re highlighting, you can browse for more by searching for what you’d like a shortcut to do in the Shortcut app’s Gallery section. To access this, simply tap on “Gallery” at the bottom right of your Shortcut app’s screen.