The 18 Best Shortcuts for Apple's iOS Shortcuts App

Automate tasks on your iPhone or iPad

Woman using iPhone Apps

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Shortcuts (previously called Workflow) is a free app for iOS devices that lets you run complicated tasks with just a few buttons. A shortcut can be custom made or you can grab pre-made ones, and they work with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch.

The Shortcuts app can tap into many different areas of the device. Each function the app supports is called an "action" that Shortcuts can use to perform a specific task. Multiple actions can be combined into one overall task, and this is when Shortcuts is most helpful — when it can run several behind-the-scenes tasks to do something complex.

Using the Shortcuts App

Some of these shortcuts are custom-made, which means you won't find them in the Gallery section of the Shortcuts app. To get them, just open the link provided below from your phone or tablet, and then choose Get Shortcut when asked.

Certain shortcuts are best run as a widget by enabling Show in Widget via the shortcut's settings. That way, you can use them from the notifications area of your device or from the first home screen page (when you swipe all the way to the left), while others are more easily used from an Apple Watch, the home screen of your device, or through the action menu (like when you share something from your device).

Shortcuts can also be launched with Siri. To do this, you have to record a phrase that Siri understands as instructions to launch a specific workflow.

Most shortcuts can be set up to run from any of those areas, but we'll call out which type of shortcut is best for each of these tasks below.

Get Instant Directions to Your Next Calendar Event

iOS shortcut that shows directions to your next calendar event

If your calendar events have a location attached to them, this shortcut is extremely handy to jump right into your favorite navigation app to see not only how to get to where you're going but how long it will take as well.

When you open this shortcut, you can choose which event to navigate to but you can also customize some other things to make it more appropriate for you and your events.

In this shortcut's settings, you can make it see 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 which GPS app to use for navigation.

This shortcut is great for the Apple Watch, iPhones, and iPads. You can set it up for the Today Widget and/or Apple Watch shortcut type in the settings.

Download YouTube Videos

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

Saving your favorite YouTube videos should be easy, and this shortcut does just that. All you need is the URL of the video.

Start by copying the video's URL. You can do this from your web browser, an email, a text, or wherever you can find it. Then, tap the Download YouTube shortcut to instantly start the download process.

When the video is finished downloading, you can save it to your device or share it with someone else. If you save the YouTube video to your iPhone/iPad, it shows up in the Photos app just as if you recorded it directly from your phone.

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.

You can remove the clipboard action at the very start of this shortcut if you want to use it a little differently. You can do this if you'd rather not have to copy the video's URL, but instead want to be able to "share" the video to the shortcut from your web browser. If you do this, be sure to edit the shortcut to enable Show in Share Sheet.

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

Do you always play the same music when working out but hate to open the Apple Music app or navigate around your Apple Watch just to open the same playlist each time?

Use the Play Playlist shortcut to instantly start your favorite playlist whenever you want, from wherever you want, with just one tap.

You can instead choose to have the shortcut ask you which playlist to play when you open it. You can also pre-enable shuffle and/or repeat.

Unlike some shortcuts, this one does not pop up with any alerts or prompts asking you for anything (unless you want it to). Just customize the shortcut and your music will start playing instantly when you open it.

Make Your Own Speed Dial Menu

Speed Dial iOS shortcut on an iPhone

If you find yourself calling the same few people often, use the Speed Dial Shortcuts to add those numbers into a little menu that you can store as a Today Widget.

If you have more than one number stored in the Speed Dial menu, you get to choose which one to call when you tap it. Otherwise, it will prompt you to dial the only number you've stored.

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

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

This shortcut is best used as a Today Widget or Apple Watch shortcut. If you're on your iPhone, just swipe left on your home screen and tap the shortcut to start calling someone.

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

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

If you're already low on gas, there's no need to waste more time opening your map and searching for nearby convenience stores.

Use this shortcut as a Today Widget to find the closest gas station and then immediately get directions to one.

You can customize the distance of the gas stations that you're given as well as which map app should be used to give you directions.

In fact, you can even change the shortcut altogether to find anything — be it restaurants, parks, museums, etc. Edit the shortcut and change gas to wherever you want, even Ask When Run so that you can search for anything without having to edit the shortcut.

Calculate a Tip With a Custom Percentage

Tip calculator shortcut on an iPhone

It's best to have your tip calculations ready to go when it's time to pay. This shortcut does all the math for you, including not only how much the tip amount is but also what the total bill is when added to the tip amount.

When you launch this shortcut, you're asked for the amount of the bill and then the tip percentage that you want to have applied. The tip amount and total price are displayed for you separately. 

This shortcut is fully customizable from the tip percentage all the way down to the number of decimal places to calculate. You can modify the options to include a smaller or larger tip percentage and even customize the final alert box.

The Calculate Tip shortcut works with any device, be it your Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

If you make it a Today Widget on your phone, for example, you can launch it from the notification center and never have to open the Shortcuts app.

Make a Photo Collage

Photo Grid iOS shortcut on an iPhone or iPad

The Photo Grid shortcut is a prime example of how advanced the Shortcuts app can be while making user input as simple as a few taps.

When you open this shortcut, you get to choose which images you want to build a collage out of. Everything else happens automatically to spit out a collage with all your photos in it.

You can then save it or share it like you can any image on your device.

It's not recommended to try to edit much of this shortcut since most it involves if/then statements and plenty of variables that don't need to be modified.

However, if you'd rather have the shortcut do something else with the collage when it's done making it instead of just showing you the picture, you can remove Quick Look from the very bottom and add a different action.

For example, choosing Save to Photo Album will instantly save the image without asking you what to do with it. Send Message will open a new text message window with the collage already inserted into the body.

Find Out Where a Photo Was Taken

iOS shortcut on iPhone that shows where an image was taken

Ever wanted to see where a picture was taken from? You can extract the GPS from a picture with this shortcut, but that's not all it does.

When you open this shortcut, a pop-up message will tell you 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 will open your navigation program to show you, on a map, where the picture was taken.

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

Some options you might want to adjust with this shortcut is the "if greater than" value so that the pop-up won't give you a distance for images taken more than one mile away. You can also adjust any of the message text.

Quickly Find the Travel Time to an Address

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

With this shortcut, you no longer need to open an address in your GPS app just to see how long it will take to get there. Just "share" the address with this shortcut to get an alert showing you the time to get there.

If you decide that you do want to start navigating there, you'll be given that option from the pop-up menu.

This shortcut is best used as an action extension so that you can highlight an address and then tap Share to get the travel information. Enable this in the shortcut's settings, via Show in Share Sheet.

Use Shortcuts as a News Reader

RSS reader iOS shortcut for iPhone

Shortcuts includes a newsreader shortcut that you can modify to make into your own custom RSS newsreader.

When you run this shortcut, the different websites that you've set up RSS feeds from will show in a menu. Pick one to read the news from that website and a new page will show that gives you a list of articles that you can open.

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

From the menu section at the top, enter your own favorite websites that you want to read news from. 

In each corresponding section below the menu, paste the RSS feed's URL. Below that, pick how many items should be fetched from the RSS feed. This is how many articles will show up in the list of feed items to pick from.

You can even add filters to only show articles from a certain author, ones that include certain words of your choosing, and more. You're also able to change which browser to read the news in, from Safari to something else like Chrome.

Make GIFs With Your iPhone or iPad

Video to GIF iPhone workflow

There are two GIF shortcuts that are great for making a GIF file from your iPhone or iPad. 

One is Shoot A GIF which prompts you to take multiple photos so that it can turn them into a GIF. You can adjust how many photos you'll be required to take, the number of seconds that each photo should be seen when the GIF is made, whether to loop the GIF and more.

The other is called Video to GIF and does just that: you can convert videos stored on your device directly into GIF files. This shortcut has you trim the video to create a GIF of any clip.

With either shortcut, you also have the option to remove the very last Quick Look action to be anything you want. Maybe you want to save the GIF to your phone or tablet, or email or text it to someone immediately after it's been made.

Birthday Reminder

Birthday reminder shortcut on an iPhone

This workflow will find the contacts on your device that have birthdays within the next week and then compile them into one list.

This is a great way to get a heads up of anyone having a birthday in the next few days, or even months if you customize the shortcut to include birthdays further into the future.

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

Delete the Last Photo Saved to Your Device

iOS shortcut to delete the last photo on the device

If you're one to take lots of temporary screenshots or always find that you're deleting blurry pictures you just took, then this shortcut will quickly become your best friend. It makes it much easier to delete recent photos rather than opening the full Photos app just to remove some pictures.

Make this a widget so that you can use it from the home screen or notification area, and just tap it once to instantly be prompted to delete the last photo that was saved.

Keep using it to remove the most recently added images. For example, you can tap it once to delete the most recent picture and then again to delete the new most recent picture, and so on.

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

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, so it's common for other apps to open web pages in Safari instead of other browsers like Google Chrome.

This shortcut is useful if you always find yourself opening Chrome to use Google. Just highlight any text that you want to search for in Chrome and then use the Share button to open this Google Chrome search shortcut.

The text you highlighted will be imported into a new Google search result in Chrome. This works not only from Safari but also any application that lets you select and share text.

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

If you like searching in Chrome, you might also like the Open URL in Chrome shortcut that can quickly open links from other browsers directly in Chrome. It works in much the same way as this Google search one.

Clean Completed Reminders

Clean Completed Reminders iOS shortcut

It's easy to get reminders on your iOS device, dismiss them or complete them, and then just leave them be in the Reminders app. This is a surefire way to clutter up the app with old and useless reminders.

Use the Clean Completed Reminders shortcut to instantly get rid of all of those completed reminders that you don't need.

This shortcut is built in a way where it only searches for completed reminders, but you can add other filters, too, if you want to find and remove specific reminders.

For example, you can clean reminders from certain lists, only delete reminders that have a specific due date, delete ones that match a specific creation date or title, only remove reminders that aren't completed, etc.; there are lots of different filters you can set up here.

Send a 'Running Late' Text Regarding a Calendar Event

Running Late iOS shortcut

If you're often late to your calendar events, this Running Late shortcut will save you time letting someone know that you won't be there on time.

When you run this shortcut, it grabs the next upcoming event you're late to, and a new text message window will automatically insert 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 with some friends, the message might say "Running a little late to hockey! Be there in 35 minutes."

By default, this workflow will work just as it's been described above. However, you can make several changes to it to really customize how it works with not only your events (which ones it finds) but also 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 (maybe you prefer email or WhatsApp).

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 might be your next best option.

Use this iOS shortcut as a widget or home screen shortcut. Just tap it to open a pop-up where you can browse GIFs, and then choose the one you want to instantly copy it to the clipboard so that you can send it in any app.

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

Record and Text Audio Snippets Automatically

iOS shortcut recording audio

This Record and Send iOS shortcut is built for emergency situations where you can't openly call or text someone for help.

What it does is puts your phone into Do Not Disturb mode, records anything your phone hears, uploads the recording to Dropbox, and then shares your location and the Dropbox link to anyone you choose.

All you have to do is trigger the shortcut, and everything else happens automatically in the background. Or, if you're free to monitor your screen, you can tap to end the recording early, and the rest will continue automatically.

For example, you can start the shortcut and then lay your phone down or put it back into your pocket or purse. It will record for 30 seconds (you can change the time), upload the recording to your Dropbox account, copy the URL to the recording, and then text the recording and any other pertinent information, to the one or more contacts you chose when you set up the shortcut.

This iOS shortcut is also helpful if you like to record snippets of your voice while driving or walking but like to be hands-free for most of it. If you use the shortcut this way, you can have the recording sent to yourself or simply saved to Dropbox without sending the link to anyone.

It's best to make this iOS shortcut either a home screen icon or a widget for easy access.