Apple Shortcuts App Guide: How to Create a Shortcut on iPhone & Edit It

The Apple Shortcuts app can create iPhone shortcuts to your apps and activate them using Siri commands.

iPhone Shortcuts makes it possible to build automated workflows. Shortcuts App is integrated with Siri, which allows you to execute task sequences on your device with basic voice commands. It sounds fancy, but it merely means that you can pair phrases with your apps' actions to achieve ultimate iPhone automation. 

Related: How to Delete Shortcuts from the iPhone

What Is a Shortcut?

An example of a Siri Shortcuts command is saying, "Hey Siri, I'm going for a walk." This simple phrase can be linked to a series of actions in your preferred order. For example, it can first prompt the weather app to tell you the temperature. Next, it can start playing your walking playlist. There can even be more steps associated with that one command, such as setting your Apple Watch to Silent Mode to avoid interruptions. Learn how to create a shortcut on iPhone and discover the best Apple shortcuts.

Jump To:

Shortcuts Gallery & My Shortcuts

The first screen you'll see when you open Shortcuts is My Shortcuts which will show all your shortcuts and suggested Starter Shortcuts. You can add shortcuts from other users using the Gallery. Once it is saved to My Shortcuts, you can tap edit to see the shortcut steps. This can help you edit the shortcut if necessary or create a similar one using different actions. 

In my research, I found that there's usually more than one way to do the same thing, and the shorter your list of steps, the faster your iPhone processes the shortcut as a whole. It's entirely possible to get lost in the process. I know I did! There are so many shortcuts to pick from in the Gallery. It can be easy to get overwhelmed. To learn more about iPhone Shortcuts app and how it can be used to customize a share sheet, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

How to Make a Shortcut on the iPhone

You can add custom shortcuts or pick from the Starter Shortcuts. 

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app
     
  2. Tap the + icon in the top right corner.

    Tap on the plus sign
     
  3. Select Add Action.

    Tap Add action in Shortcuts app
     
  4. Select the app for which you want to create a shortcut.

    Select an app that you want to create a Shortcut for
     
  5. Select an action. For example, send a message to a contact.

    Select an action that you want to create a Shortcut for
     
  6. Select the recipient(s) for this shortcut.

    Select a recipient for the message
     
  7. Tap next.

    Tap next
     
  8. Name the shortcut. You will need to say "Hey Siri," and then the shortcut's name to activate it, so consider an easy-to-remember phrase.

    Name the Shortcut
     
  9. Tap done.

    Tap done to save the Shortcut
     
  10. To test if your shortcut works, try speaking the command. You can also tap on the shortcut in the Shortcuts app and press the Play button in the bottom right.

    Tap play to test the Shortcut

How to Use Starter Shortcuts for Apple Music

  1. Tap Gallery on the bottom right.

    Tap gallery to see Starter Shortcuts
     
  2. Scroll right through the top row

    Scroll right through the top row
     
  3. Tap Shortcuts for Apple Music.

    Tap Shortcuts for Apple Music.
     
  4. For this example, we will do Play One and Shuffle. This will play a song of your choosing and shuffle the rest of your library.

    Browse through the shortcuts and add the one you want.
     
  5. Select Add Shortcut.

    Select Add Shortcut.

With this shortcut, you can say, "Hey Siri, Play One and Shuffle." This will take you to your Apple Music library. Once you select a song, it will play that song, and then it will play the rest of your music in random order.

Setting Up Your Shortcuts

Unlike apps, some shortcuts are installed with steps that require user input before the shortcut can function. Some shortcuts are more straightforward to edit than others. Understanding how to edit a shortcut is essential whether you're using an existing shortcut or want to learn to build your own. Let's take a look at the Tea Timer shortcut, for example.

How to Add the Tea Timer Shortcut

  1. Open Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app
     
  2. Go to the Gallery.

    Tap gallery to see Starter Shortcuts
     
  3. Scroll or search for Tea Timer.

    Search for a Starter SHortcut
     
  4. Tap Tea Timer.

    Tap the Shortcut you want to add
     
  5. Select Add Shortcut.

    Select Add Shortcut.

How to Edit a Shortcut

Once you have added the shortcut, you can edit the brewing time based on your tea preferences.

  1. Open Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app
     
  2. Under My Shortcuts, find the Tea Timer shortcut. Tap the three dots to edit the shortcut.

    Tap the three dots to edit the Shortcut
     
  3. Under each type of tea, you will find a number. 

    Under each type of tea there is a number
     
  4. Edit the number accordingly. For example, if you prefer your black tea weaker, change 180 to 150. 

    Edit the number accordingly.
     
  5. You can also change the variable to Ask Each Time, if brewing time depends on the brand of tea you drink.

    You can also change the variable to "Ask Each Time"
     
  6. Tap Done to save your changes.

    Tap Done to save the Shortcut settings.

Any Starter Shortcut can be edited based on your preferences. The automatic setting for the Tea Timer shortcut is to vibrate when your tea is ready to brew. You can keep it or switch it out to have your iPhone play a song. To do this:

  1. Under the Tea Timer shortcut settings, tap the x on Scripting: Vibrate decide. 

    Tap the x to remove the action from Shortcuts
     
  2. Then tap the + icon.

    Then tap the + icon.
     
  3. Either search for apps and actions, or select them directly. For this example, I will choose Tea Time, Good Morning under Play Music.

    Either search for apps and actions or select them directly.
     
  4. If you accidentally delete something you want to return, tap the Undo button to revert your actions. You can also tap Redo when necessary. Tap the play button at the bottom right to test your shortcut.

    Tap the Undo button to revert your actions

Shortcuts Permissions to Access Other Apps

The Apple Shortcuts app does not automatically have access to all your apps. When setting up a shortcut, it may ask you to approve that access. When you tap on the shortcut in My Shortcuts, it will say something like, "This shortcut is not allowed to access your podcasts." Just tap Allow Access to solve this issue.

How to Delete Shortcuts

If you no longer need a shortcut, you can delete it in the Shortcuts app. Once you delete it, you will no longer be able to use Siri to perform the actions involved.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app
     
  2. Under My Shortcuts, tap Select in the top right corner.

    Under My Shortcuts tap Select.
     
  3. Select the shortcut(s) that you wish to delete.

    Select the shortcut(s) that you wish to delete.
     
  4. Tap Delete in the bottom right corner.

    Tap Delete in the bottom right corner.
     
  5. Confirm to Delete Shortcut.

    Confirm to Delete Shortcut.

How to Create Custom App Icons

The cool thing about iOS 14 Shortcuts is that you can use them to create custom icons for your Apps. 

  1. Open the Shortcuts app.

    Open the Shortcuts app
     
  2. Tap on the + icon located on the top right of the main app screen.

    Tap on the plus sign
     
  3. Select Add Action.

    Tap add action
     
  4. Use the search bar at the top of the screen and type Open App.

    Tap into the search bar and type Open App
     
  5. Select Open App.

    Select Open App in the search results
     
  6. Tap on Choose.

    Tap on Choose
     
  7. Select the app of your choice out of the list in alphabetical order. You can also search the app in the search bar at the top of the screen.

    Select the app you're creating a new icon for
     
  8. Tap on the three dots in the top right corner of the screen.

    Tap on the three dots
     
  9. Tap on Add to Home Screen.

    Tap Add to Home Screen
     
  10. Tap on the app icon under Home Screen Name and Icon.

    Tap on the icon to change it
     
  11. From the drop-down menu, select Take Photo, Choose Photo, or Choose File.

    Select where you'd like to find the icon image
     
  12. Select the image you would like to use and confirm it by tapping Choose.

    Select the image you want to use, then confirm it by tapping Choose in the lower-right corner
     
  13. Tap on New Shortcut to rename the app.

    Tap on New Shortcut to change the name
     
  14. Tap Add in the top-right corner of the screen.

    Type in the name of the app icon, then tap Add
     
  15. Tap on Done.

    Tap on Done in the upper-right corner
     
  16. The new app icon will appear on your Home Screen.

    Your new custom app icon will appear on your Home Screen

iPhone Shortcuts makes it possible to pair phrases spoken to Siri with actions on your apps. There are endless ways to use the Apple Shortcuts app to execute task sequences. Learning how to create a Shortcut can make it faster to send a message, shuffle your Apple Music playlist, or enable other iPhone automation. It can take some time to master Shortcuts, but once you do, you'll be running your iPhone with ease using just your voice.

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Author Details

Tamlin Day's picture

Author Details

Tamlin Day

Tamlin Day is a feature web writer for iPhone Life and a regular contributor to iPhone Life magazine. A prolific writer of tips, reviews, and in-depth guides, Tamlin has written hundreds of articles for iPhone Life. From iPhone settings to recommendations for the best iPhone-compatible gear to the latest Apple news, Tamlin's expertise covers a broad spectrum. 

Before joining iPhone Life, Tamlin received his BFA in Media & Communications as well as a BA in Graphic Design from Maharishi International University (MIU), where he edited MIU's literary journal, Meta-fore. With a passion for teaching, Tamlin has instructed young adults, college students, and adult learners on topics ranging from spoken word poetry to taking the perfect group selfie. Tamlin's first computer, a Radioshack Color Computer III, was given to him by his father. At 13, Tamlin built his first PC from spare parts. He is proud to put his passion for teaching and tech into practice as a writer and educator at iPhone Life.