Apart from being a Workflow killer, Shortcuts app in the latest Apple app, i.e., iOS 12, is a fitting answer to IFTTT (If This Then That) app. At least I can see this Shortcuts app as an advanced version of Workflow and IFTTT. Apple has done an excellent job to push both the apps on the back burner.
The Shortcuts is Apple’s app, which is not a stock one, but it is likely to see massive acceptance by users worldwide. From simple to complex, there are hundreds of shortcuts you can create on your iOS device. Some are as easy as the drag-and-drop affair, while there are a few, which will test your patience.
How to Use Shortcuts App in iOS 12 on iPhone or iPad
Those, who have already used Workflow on their iPhones, won’t face many difficulties in using Shortcuts. But for new iOS users or who have never used Workflow, Shortcuts is something new and exciting.
How does the Shortcuts work?
As the name suggests, Shortcuts create a quicker way to get things done with your apps. There are many categories Apple has created, and under each category, you will find some shortcuts. For example, some popular Shortcuts categories are Essential, Great Shortcuts for Siri, Morning Routine, Explore Apple Music, Stay Healthy, Put It On The Calendar, Read It Later, and others.
By using Shortcuts, you can automate a variety of things. Users would like to get directions to the home/office or to the next event on their Calendar apps; tweet the latest photo; post the latest photo on Instagram; record voice; click photos; speed dial and more.
Siri plays an important role here in Shortcuts. Apple has subtly integrated this voice assistant to make your Shortcuts experience even better and faster. Siri not only suggests useful shortcuts – based on your usage of the iOS device and browsing the Internet – but it also runs the shortcuts following your voice commands. Just invoke Siri and you need to speak the shortcut phrase to run a particular shortcut.
The best thing about the app is you can access your shortcuts from iOS Today View, from iOS Home Screen, or by summoning Siri.
Apart from Siri suggestions, you can use ready-made or custom shortcuts. You can combine multiple steps across multiple apps to enjoy the automation power of iOS 12.
The entire app is divided into two tabs: Library and Gallery; while the latter offers you a long list of categories and shortcuts, the former stores all the shortcuts you have created. When you open the app, Library is the first tab you will see. If you have not created any workflow app earlier, Shortcuts app will show you a blank library with an option to Create Shortcut (see the image below).
What is an Action?
The Action is a pillar on which a shortcut stands. When multiple actions come together, it creates a shortcut/s. The action is a single step taken by users to design a shortcut. For example, a shortcut that gives you directions to your home comprises two actions: Street Address and Show Directions. Apart from the two major actions, users can also select small actions like selecting Maps and Mode.
Not all actions are this simple. Some of them will require a special skill to arrange combinations and permutations to generate a shortcut. For example, Convert Photos to GIF requires two or three other actions embedded to create one shortcut.
Shortcuts app give you some pre-installed actions you can use to create Convert Photos to GIF shortcut. Thankfully, the app gives you necessary guidance when you tap on Show Actions tab.
How to Create Shortcuts in iOS 12
You can create a new shortcut following three methods: 1) tap on Create Shortcut tab in Library, 2) tap on the Plus (+) icon seen on the top right corner when you are on the Library page 3) open Gallery and select any one shortcut you wish to create. Note that Gallery will show you a number of categories of shortcuts; you can use the search field to get your choice of the shortcut.
Once you tap on the shortcut, you need to follow below steps.
We have taken Convert Photos to GIF as an example. There may be minute changes in the interface of other shortcuts.
The first screen provides you with necessary information like with which apps or services the shortcut works. Moreover, the screen shows you the method you may follow to create a shortcut.
Step #1. Tap on Show Actions. A few actions will be listed here to finish the shortcut. As mentioned in this guide, this shortcut requires three-four actions, which need to be integrated into a logical sequence.
Step #2. Now tap on Get Shortcut.
Your shortcut will be “Added to Library.”
Now go back to the Library in the Shortcuts app.
Step #3. Here, tap on the two toggles icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
You can do a few customizations of the shortcut:
Change Shortcut Name: First, you can change the default name of the shortcut by tapping on Name. For example, from Convert Photos to GIF, you can use any other name of your choice.
Change Icon: Next, you can change the icon of the shortcut. Simply tap on Icon and you will find three tabs: Color, Glyph, and Home Screen.
Select the color first; then, you can tap on Glyph to pick up an icon. Don’t forget those four tabs at the bottom of the screen: Objects, People, Symbols, and Services. The app gives you more customized icon by allowing you to take a new photo or select a photo from Photos app.
Add to Siri: Add to Siri is an important customization. You can ask Siri to perform your shortcut. For this, tap on Add to Siri and then tap on the round, red button and then speak the phrase “Convert to GIF.”
If you have renamed the shortcut, you should speak that phrase. If not satisfied with the result, you can re-record your phrase by tapping on Re-Record Phrase. Once you record the phrase, tap on Done from the upper right corner of your phone’s screen.
Keep Show in Widget option enabled as you can see this shortcut in Today View.
Add to Home Screen: For easy access, you can use “Add to Home Screen” option. On the screen, the app explains the procedure to add a shortcut to the home screen: tap the share icon first, then tap on Add to Home Screen option from the bottom row, and finally tap “Add” button from the top right corner. Hop, skip, and jump!
Your shortcut is now created and you can use it from the app itself or Today View or home screen of your iPhone.
Share the Shortcut
Step #1. Tap on three horizontal dots on the shortcut tab.
Step #2. Your shortcut editing screen opens.
Step #3. Tap on Sharesheet icon.
Step #4. Next, select any one sharing option from the two rows. If someone close to you uses Apple device, you can use AirDrop also. Before you can share the shortcut, an iCloud link will be created and the link will be shared with your contacts.
When the receiver opens the link, the shortcut will be saved automatically in his/her Shortcuts app. Note that receiver can see the contents of your shortcut.
Delete Shortcut: You can also delete a shortcut if you don’t want to use it in future.
Step #1. Tap and hold the shortcut/s you want to delete from Library.
Step #2. All the shortcuts you have created begin to jiggle.
Step #3. Tap on the shortcut/s you want to delete.
Step #4. Now, tap on Trashcan icon from the top right corner of the screen.
Step #5. You will be asked to confirm your action as a pop-up swipe up from the bottom of your phone’s screen.
Step #6. Tap on Delete Shortcut/s.
Alternatively, you can tap on Edit button from the top left corner of your phone screen. When shortcuts begin to wiggle, select the one you wish to delete. Next, follow the steps mentioned above.
Whenever you run a shortcut, all the actions you have selected proceed in sequence from the first to the last. The app gives you the facility to drag and drop each action once you select them from the list.
Actions perform individual tasks in particular ways, and when each action performs its task in sequence, the shortcut runs successfully. If you change the sequence, there will be a glitch.
In case you accidentally change something, you can use Undo and Redo buttons appear on the top left corner of your phone screen. Thus, actions become the pillars on which your shortcuts stand tall. If a single pillar is shaken, it will affect the performance of your shortcut.
That’s all folks!
Users need to explore Shortcuts with patience and understanding. This app will surely change the way you have been using your iPhones till date. There are more than 300 actions in the app, and you can mix and match those actions to get the best of this app.
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