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 supercharge your iPhone’s capabilities. With a single tap, you could turn on your smart lights, raise the temperature on your smart thermostat, and start an energetic 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 launch with a tap or a word to Siri. Launched alongside iOS 12 in 2018, the app 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’s Shortcuts tab, you can start creating your own shortcut manually or install a pre-made shortcut from the built-in shortcut gallery or the web.

1. Get yourself in the mood to focus The Reading Mode shortcut starts by asking you how long you want to read. David Nield

A good way to start using shortcuts is to install one someone else made – you can always open the tool to see how it works and customize it to suit your needs if needed. Go to the Gallery tab in the app, look for a shortcut called Reading Mode and install it by tapping 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 the reading app of your choice, and even launches the Apple Music playlist you specify. Once installed, tap the three dots on the shortcut entry to customize any of these actions.

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2. Edit images in batches Shortcuts can quickly apply the same edits to multiple images. David Nield

As you become more comfortable using shortcuts, you can start creating your own — it helps to think about tasks and groups of actions that you repeatedly perform on your phone. To create a shortcut in the Shortcuts tab, tap the plus icon in the top right corner and click Add Action to get started.

[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 again, choose Apps, Photos, and then Choose Photos. From the “All Actions” list, select “Resize Image” as the next action and enter the desired size. The last action is Save to Photo Album. Tap Done to save your shortcut.

That’s a simple example, but there are many other photo editing actions available, including the ability to remove backgrounds and rotate images so you can combine them as needed.

3. Use ChatGPT with Siri Put ChatGPT on your iPhone using Siri.

It’s difficult to avoid ChatGPT at the moment, and the AI ​​chatbot can be used alongside Siri on your iPhone. First, register a free account with ChatGPT developer OpenAI, and then grab an API key from their website. API (Application Programming Interface) keys are simply identification codes that allow one program (shortcuts) to work with another (ChatGPT).

With the key in hand, open the SiriGPT shortcut in your iPhone’s web browser and tap Get Shortcut. In the Shortcuts app, select Set up shortcut, paste or type your API key and select Add shortcut.

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If you want to start this shortcut with your voice, you’ll probably want to rename it to something simpler – do this by holding it and then selecting Rename. Start the shortcut with a tap or a voice command and ChatGPT will be at your disposal.

4. Tell someone when you’re coming home. Shortcuts can text on your behalf. David Nield

One of the benefits of running Shortcuts on your iPhone rather than your Mac is that it lets you pinpoint your location much more accurately. This can come in handy 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 should take you to drive home and then sends an SMS with 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 from the Shortcuts tab by tapping the three dots on its entry, and you can easily change the shortcut’s default address as well as the contacts who receive the message about your ETA.

5. Review your day You can choose the questions and answers that will help you reflect on your day. David Nield

If you tap Gallery in the Shortcuts app and use the search function, you should find a shortcut called Reflect on the Day, which 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.

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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 will ask you at the end of each day, open it by tapping the three dots on its thumbnail.