18 Best Shortcuts for Apple's iOS Shortcuts App

Automate tasks on your iPhone or iPad

The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts
The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcuts (previously called Workflow) is a free app for iOS devices that runs complicated tasks. Shortcuts can be custom made or premade and tap into many areas of the device. Each function the app supports is an action that performs a specific task and multiple actions can be combined into one task. The Shortcuts app is most helpful when it runs several behind-the-scenes tasks to do something complex.

Information in this article applies to the Shortcuts app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch.

How to Install Shortcuts

Some of the shortcuts listed below are custom-made and aren't found in the Gallery section of the Shortcuts app. Here's how to get these shortcuts onto your phone or tablet:

  1. Open the Get This Shortcut link provided below.
  2. Tap Open to either download the Shortcuts app or open it if it's already installed.
  3. Choose Get Shortcut or, for some shortcuts, Add Untrusted Shortcut when prompted.

If the Can't Be Opened error appears when opening a shortcut, the device is set to download shortcuts only from the Gallery. Homemade shortcuts are considered unsafe.

To use untrusted shortcuts, select a shortcut from the Gallery section of the app and run it at least once. Then, go to the Settings app, select Shortcuts, and tap the button next to Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.

How to Use the Shortcuts App

Certain shortcuts are best run as a widget. Go to the shortcut settings and enable Show in Widget. Then, use the shortcut from the notifications area of your device or from the first home screen page (swipe all the way to the left).

Other shortcuts are best used from an Apple Watch, the home screen of your device, or through the action menu (like when you share something from your device).

To launch shortcuts with Siri, record a phrase that Siri understands as instructions to launch a specific workflow. Learn how to use Siri Shortcuts for help.

Most shortcuts can be set up to run from any of these areas The descriptions below call out which type of shortcut is best for each of these tasks.

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Get Instant Directions to Your Next Calendar Event

iOS shortcut that shows directions to your next calendar event

If a location is attached to your calendar events, this shortcut opens your favorite navigation app and shows how to get to your destination and how long it will take.

When you open this shortcut, not only can you choose which event to navigate to but you can also customize the settings to make it fit you and your events. For example, display events that start anywhere from seconds away from the current time to years in the future, change the map mode to driving or walking, only query events that are not all day long, and set the GPS app to use for navigation.

This shortcut is great for the Apple Watch, iPhone, and iPad. Set it up for the Today Widget or Apple Watch shortcut type in the settings.

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Download YouTube Videos

iOS shortcut that lets you download YouTube videos to your phone or iPad

Save your favorite YouTube videos with this shortcut. All you need is the URL of the video. Copy the URL from a web browser, an email, a text, or wherever you find it. Then, tap the Download YouTube shortcut to start the download.

Downloading YouTube videos to your phone or tablet is legal only if you own the video or if the video is in the public domain.

When the video is finished downloading, save it to your device or share it with someone. If you save the YouTube video to an iPhone or iPad, it appears in the Photos app as if you recorded it from your phone.

Remove the clipboard action at the start of this shortcut if you don't want to copy the URL but instead want to share the video to the shortcut from the web browser. To do this, edit the shortcut to enable Show in Share Sheet.

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Open Your Favorite Music Playlist in One Tap

iOS shortcut for iPhones and Apple Watch that lets you instantly play any playlist from Apple Music

Use the Play Playlist shortcut to start your favorite playlist whenever you want, from wherever you want, with one tap. You'll no longer need to stop your workout to open the Apple Music app or navigate your Apple Watch to open the playlist.

This shortcut asks you which playlist to play when you open it. You can also enable shuffle and repeat. Unlike some shortcuts, this one doesn't display alerts or prompts asking you for anything (unless you want it to). All you do is customize the shortcut and your music plays instantly when you open the shortcut.

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Make Your Own Speed Dial Menu

Speed Dial iOS shortcut on an iPhone

If you call the same people often, use the Speed Dial shortcut to add those numbers to a menu and store it as a Today Widget. If more than one number is stored in the Speed Dial menu, choose which one to call when you tap the shortcut. Otherwise, it prompts you to dial the only number that's stored.

There isn't much to customize with this simple workflow except for the icon and name, but it's extremely useful.

If you don't want to pre-set a number, choose Ask When Run in the phone number text box. Then, when you run the shortcut, choose any contact or enter any phone number.

This shortcut is best used as a Today Widget or Apple Watch shortcut. On an iPhone, swipe left on the home screen and tap the shortcut to call someone.

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Get Directions to the Nearest Gas Station (or Anything Else)

iOS shortcut that helps you find pizza, gas, or anything else

If you're low on gas, don't waste time by opening a map and searching for nearby convenience stores. Use this shortcut as a Today Widget to find the closest gas station and get directions. You can customize the distance of the gas stations that are suggested as well as which map app to use for directions.

This shortcut finds more than gas stations. Change the shortcut to find hotels, restaurants, parks, museums, and other places. Edit the shortcut and change gas to wherever you want. Select Ask When Run to search for anything without editing the shortcut.

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Calculate a Tip With a Custom Percentage

Tip calculator shortcut on an iPhone

It's best to have the tip calculations ready when it's time to pay for your meal. This shortcut does the math for you, including the amount of the tip and the total bill with the tip amount. When you launch this shortcut, enter the amount of the bill and the tip percentage. The tip amount and total price are displayed separately. 

This shortcut is fully customizable from the tip percentage to the number of decimal places to calculate. Modify the options to include a smaller or larger tip percentage and customize the final alert box.

The Calculate Tip shortcut works with any device, including Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Make this shortcut a Today Widget on your phone, for example, to launch it from the notification center.

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Make a Photo Collage

Photo Grid iOS shortcut on an iPhone or iPad

The Photo Grid shortcut is an example of how advanced the Shortcuts app can be while making user input as simple as a few taps. When you open this shortcut, choose the images to include in the collage. Everything else happens automatically to display a collage with your photos. Then, save the collage on your device or share it with your friends.

Don't edit much of this shortcut. It contains if/then statements and variables that shouldn't be modified.

If you want the shortcut to do something else with the collage instead of showing the picture, remove Quick Look and add a different action. For example, choose Save to Photo Album to save the image without asking what to do with it. Select Send Message to open a new text message window with the collage inserted into the body.

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Find Out Where a Photo Was Taken

iOS shortcut on iPhone that shows where an image was taken

When you want to find out where a picture was taken, this shortcut extracts the GPS from a picture. That's not all it does. This shortcut shows when the image was taken and how far away it was taken from your current location (if it's more than one mile away). Then, the shortcut opens a navigation program to show, on a map, where the picture was taken.

You can adjust the if greater than value so that the shortcut doesn't give a distance for images taken more than one mile away. You can also adjust any of the message text.

This workflow is best used as a widget. Enable Show in Widget in the shortcut settings to make it easily accessible.

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Quickly Find the Travel Time to an Address

iOS shortcut showing how long it takes to travel to a destination

With this shortcut, you don't need to open an address in a GPS app to see how long it will take to get to a destination. Share the address with this shortcut to receive an alert with the time to get there. If you want to start navigating there, you're given that option.

This shortcut is best used as an action extension so that you can highlight an address and tap Share to get the travel information. To enable this in the shortcut settings, select Show in Share Sheet.

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Use Shortcuts as a News Reader

RSS reader iOS shortcut for iPhone

The Shortcuts app includes a newsreader shortcut. Modify this shortcut and make your own custom RSS newsreader. This shortcut displays the websites for RSS feeds you set up. Choose a website and select an article to read the news.

To modify this shortcut, go to the menu section at the top, enter the websites that you want to read news from, the URLs for the RSS feeds, and the number of items to fetch from the RSS feed. This is how many articles will show up in the list of feed items to pick from.

To customize each feed, add filters to show articles from a certain author, include articles with certain words, and more. You can also change which browser to use to read the news, for example, from Safari to Chrome.

This RSS reader is totally customizable and best used as a widget.

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Make GIFs With Your iPhone or iPad

Video to GIF iPhone workflow

There are two GIF shortcuts that make a GIF file from an iPhone or iPad. One is Shoot A GIF which takes multiple photos and turns the photos into a GIF. You can adjust how many photos are required, the number of seconds that each photo should be seen when the GIF is made, whether to loop the GIF, and more.

The other shortcut is called Video to GIF. This shortcut converts videos that are stored on the device into GIF files. This shortcut has you trim the video to create a GIF of any clip.

Both shortcuts have the option to remove the last Quick Look action and change it to anything you want. For example, save the GIF to your phone or tablet, or email or text it to someone.

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Birthday Reminder

Birthday reminder shortcut on an iPhone

This workflow finds the contacts on your device that have birthdays within the next week and compiles these contacts into one list. This is a great way to get a heads up of anyone having a birthday in the next few days, or months if you customize the shortcut to include birthdays in the future.

Modify this app to adjust how many contacts are shown in the alert, change what the alert says, choose when the birthday must be to be shown in the alert, sort the list of names, and more.

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Delete the Last Photo Saved to Your Device

iOS shortcut to delete the last photo on the device

If you take temporary screenshots or delete blurry pictures, this shortcut makes it easy to delete recent photos rather than opening the Photos app to remove some pictures.

Make this a widget so that you can use it from the home screen or notification area, then tap it once to be prompted to delete the last photo that was saved. Keep using it to remove recently added images. For example, tap it once to delete the most recent picture, then tap it again to delete the new most recent picture, and so on.

If you want, customize the picture count to be even more, like 10 if you want to be asked to delete that many at once. You can also include or exclude screenshots from this shortcut.

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Search for Text in Google Chrome

iOS shortcut sending text from Safari to Chrome

Safari is the default web browser for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. It's common for other apps to open web pages in Safari instead of other browsers like Google Chrome. This shortcut opens Chrome to use Google.

To use this shortcut, highlight the text that you want to search for, then use the Share button to open this Google Chrome search shortcut. The highlighted text is imported into a new Google search result in Chrome. This works from Safari and any application where you can select and share text.

For this shortcut to work, it must be set up as Show in Share Sheet. In Safari, share the highlighted text to Shortcuts, then tap Chrome Google Search to open the same text in a new Google search in Google Chrome.

If you like to search in Chrome, check out the Open URL in Chrome shortcut that quickly opens links from other browsers in Chrome. It works similar to this Google search shortcut.

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Clean Completed Reminders

Clean Completed Reminders iOS shortcut

It's easy to get a reminder on an iOS device, dismiss it, or complete it, and then leave it in the Reminders app. This clutters the app with old reminders. Use the Clean Completed Reminders shortcut to get rid of completed reminders that you don't need.

This shortcut only searches for completed reminders, but you can add other filters to find and remove specific reminders. For example, clean reminders from certain lists, delete reminders that have a specific due date, delete ones that match a specific creation date or title, and remove reminders that aren't completed. There are lots of filters you can set up in this shortcut.

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Send a 'Running Late' Text Regarding a Calendar Event

Running Late iOS shortcut

If you're late to your calendar events, this Running Late shortcut will save you time and let someone know that you won't be there on time. When you run this shortcut, it finds the next upcoming event you're late to, and sends a text with the text, "Running a little late to <event>! Be there in <time it takes to drive to event>." For example, if you're late to a hockey game, the message says, "Running a little late to hockey! Be there in 35 minutes."

By default, this workflow works as described above. However, you can make several changes to customize how it works with your events (which ones it finds) and what the message says (any of the text can be changed), whether a contact should be preloaded into the compose box, and what app to send the message through (for example, email or WhatsApp).

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Quickly Find and Copy GIFs

iOS shortcut using Giphy to locate GIF files

If your messaging app doesn't support a GIF gallery, this Get GIF shortcut is a good alternative. Use this iOS shortcut as a widget or home screen shortcut. Tap it to browse GIFs, choose one to copy it to the clipboard, then send it in any app.

If you leave the search box empty, the shortcut will locate trending GIFs instead of GIFs by keyword.

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Record and Text Audio Snippets Automatically

iOS shortcut recording audio

This Record and Send iOS shortcut is for emergency situations where you can't openly call or text someone for help. This shortcut puts your phone into Do Not Disturb mode, records anything the phone hears, uploads the recording to Dropbox, then shares your location and the Dropbox link to anyone you choose.

All you have to do is trigger the shortcut, and everything happens automatically in the background. Or, if you're free to monitor your screen, tap to end the recording early, and the rest will continue automatically. For example, start the shortcut then lay the phone down or put it into your pocket or backpack. It records for 30 seconds (you can change the time), uploads the recording to your Dropbox account, copies the URL to the recording, then texts the recording and other pertinent information to the one or more contacts you chose when you set up the shortcut.

You can also use this iOS shortcut to record snippets of your voice while driving or walking and like to be hands-free. If you use the shortcut this way, send the recording to yourself or save it to Dropbox without sending the link to anyone.

Make this iOS shortcut a home screen icon or a widget for easy access.