How to Use Siri Shortcuts

This simple trick will make your life easier

Siri Shortcuts is a feature introduced in iOS 12 that uses Siri to automate tasks in the Shortcuts app on an iPhone or iPad. A phrase spoken to Siri triggers the actions in the shortcut.

Shortcuts are particularly suited for handling repetitive tasks. For example, if you order food or coffee from the same app every day, the Shortcuts app may suggest a shortcut that orders for you. You can also make your own shortcuts that work with Siri.

Siri Shortcuts requires iPadOS 14, iPad OS 13, or iOS 14 through iOS 12 on an iPad or iPhone.

How to Make Shortcuts With the Shortcuts App

The Shortcuts app contains a selection of Starter Shortcuts for newcomers, as well as suggestions based on your previous activity on your mobile device.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad.

    iPad desktop with the Shortcuts icon highlighted
  2. Tap Gallery in the sidebar or at the bottom of the screen. Browse the Gallery for suggested shortcuts. Tap a shortcut—such as Reading Mode— to open it and learn more about what it does.

    Gallery view in the Shortcuts app

    In the case of the Reading Mode example, the shortcut includes actions to open your reading app, turn on Do Not Disturb, enable Dark Mode, and start your favorite playlist for a specified amount of time.

  3. Note the phrase in the When I run field. This phrase is the one you use to tell Siri to launch the shortcut. You can use the phrase the app supplies or change it.

    The When I run field in the Shortcuts app on iPad
  4. To add the shortcut to your collection, tap Add Shortcut.

    A shortcut information screen on an iPad

  5. To configure the shortcut, answer the questions that appear on the subsequent screens and tap Continue.

    A Shortcut app configuration screen on iPad
  6. After the last question, tap Done. These screens change for each shortcut.

    Configuration screen in iPad Shortcuts app

    The Shortcut is added to your collection.

  7. Tap All Shortcuts in the sidebar of the app to view your collection. (In iOS 12, select Library at the bottom of the screen.)

    Shortcuts app on iPad

    To make changes to a Shortcut in your collection, tap the three-dot button to open the Shortcut editor.

How to Run a Siri Shortcut

To run a shortcut, say "Hey, Siri," and say the name of the shortcut you made or chose from the suggestions. If you forget the name, it appears on the shortcut icon in the All Shortcuts screen.

For example, say "Hey Siri, play my favorite songs" if your Shortcut actions involve your music and you used the "play my favorite songs" phrase in the shortcut. Say "Hey Siri, record my voice" if you set up audio recording in the shortcut with that phrase.

You can also tap the shortcut in the All Shortcuts screen to run it or add Shortcut widgets to the Home screen for easy access.

Siri Suggestions

In addition to the shortcuts you select from the Gallery, Siri periodically makes suggestions for shortcuts based on the way you use your device. If you check a weather app, listen to NPR, and view your email first thing in the morning, Siri may suggest a shortcut to do any of those things.

Siri's suggestions appear in a Suggestions section of the Gallery along with available shortcuts linked to your apps. Tap the plus sign next to any suggested app shortcut to view it.

Siri Suggestions and App Shortcuts

Turn off Siri Suggestions if you no longer want to see suggestions for Shortcuts. Open the iPad Settings app and select Siri & Search. Turn off all the categories in the Siri Suggestions section.

iPad Settings with Siri & Search category highlighted

You may see mentions of automation shortcuts in the Shortcuts app. These shortcuts are triggered by an event, not by addressing Siri. An example automation shortcut would turn on your smart home lights at a specific time each day.

Custom Shortcuts

After trying out some of Apple's curated shortcuts or Siri's suggestions, you may be ready to create your own custom shortcuts. Select All Shortcuts in the My Shortcuts section of the sidebar and tap the plus sign at the top of the screen to add a new custom shortcut and open the editing screen, where you input all the actions required to complete your shortcut.

Writing your own series of actions is not as user-friendly as most of the iPad and iPhone features, but Apple publishes a comprehensive Shortcuts User Guide that lists all the capabilities of the Shortcuts app.

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