How to use the iPhone Shortcuts app

The Shortcuts app has long been one of Apple’s lesser-used offerings, and that’s a shame because it can really boost your iPhone’s capabilities. With a single tap you can turn on your smart lights, increase the temperature on your smart thermostat and start an energizing playlist – and that’s just one example.

Like the macOS version, the Shortcuts mobile app is essentially an automation tool that can combine many tasks into one action that you initiate with a tap or a word to Siri. The app, introduced in 2018 alongside iOS 12, is built into the iPhone’s operating system, so you’ll find it on one of your home screens or in the app library. From the app Shortcuts tab you can start building your own shortcut manually, or install a ready-made shortcut from the integrated shortcut gallery or the web.

1. Get yourself in the mood to focus

The iOS reading mode shortcut for the iPhone Shortcuts app.
The Reading Mode shortcut starts by asking you how long you want to read. David Neld

A good way to start using shortcuts is to install one created by someone else. You can always open the tool to see how it works and adjust it to your needs if necessary. Go to the Gallery tab in the app, look for a shortcut called Reading Mode and install it by clicking the plus icon on the shortcut thumbnail.

Reading mode is a great example of how shortcuts combine multiple actions: it turns on Do Not Disturb, switches to dark mode, opens your favorite reading app, and even launches the Apple Music playlist you specify. Press three dots on the shortcut item once installed to customize any of these actions.

2. Edit images in batches

A DIY iPhone shortcut that you can use to resize images in bulk.
Shortcuts can quickly apply the same edits to multiple images. David Neld

As you become more familiar with shortcuts, you can start creating your own shortcuts. It helps to think about tasks and groups of actions that you perform repeatedly on your phone. To create a shortcut from the Shortcuts tap the tab plus icon in the top right corner and press Add action start.

[Related: Edit gorgeous photos right on your phone]

For example, if you want to automate a series of photo edits that you do over and over, choose Applications, photosThan Select Photos. Of the All actions list, choose Resize image as the next action and enter the desired size. The last action is Save to photo album. Crane Finished to save your shortcut.

That’s a simple example, but plenty of other image editing operations are available, including the ability to remove backgrounds and rotate images so you can combine them as needed.

3. Use ChatGPT with Siri

An iOS shortcut that lets you use ChatGPT on an iPhone.
Put ChatGPT on your iPhone, with help from Siri.

It is currently difficult to avoid ChatGPT and the AI ​​chatbot can be used along with Siri on your iPhone. First register a free account with ChatGPT developer OpenAI and then grab an API key from its site. Application Programming Interface (API) keys are simple identifiers that allow one program (Shortcuts) to interact with another (ChatGPT).

Key in hand, open the SiriGPT shortcut in your iPhone’s web browser and tap Get shortcut. Select in the Shortcuts app Set Shortcutpaste or type your API key and choose Add shortcut.

If you want to launch this shortcut with your voice, you’ll probably want to give it a simpler name. Do this by holding it down and then choosing Rename. Launch the shortcut with a tap or a voice command and ChatGPT is at your disposal.

4. Let someone know when you’re home

The ETA tool for the iPhone Shortcuts app, which lets people know when you arrive.
Shortcuts can text on your behalf. David Neld

One of the benefits of running shortcuts on your iPhone instead of your Mac is that it provides a much more accurate solution to your location. This can be useful for all kinds of automations.

Go to the Gallery tab and look for the Home ETA shortcut. When you install and run it, it calculates how long it will take you to drive home and then sends you your estimated time of arrival to the contact of your choice.

[Related: 14 tricks for getting more out of the underrated Apple Maps app]

Open the shortcut of the Shortcuts tab by tapping three dots upon entry, and you can easily change the address that the shortcut defaults to, as well as the contact(s) that receive the message about your ETA.

5. Look back on your day

The iOS shortcut that helps you reflect on your day.
You can choose the questions and answers to help you reflect on your day. David Neld

If you tap Gallery in the Shortcuts app and use the search function, you should find a shortcut called Reflect on the Day that does exactly what the name suggests. You will be asked to answer questions about how your day was and you can also set goals for tomorrow.

Your answers are saved in the Notes app so you can track your progress over time, and the shortcut also sets reminders for the next day so you don’t forget your goals. To edit the questions the shortcut asks you at the end of each day, open it by tapping three dots on its thumbnail.

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