I recently covered the basics of using the Shortcuts app on the iPhone. In that post, I explained what this app is, how it works, and how you can use it to increase your productivity and convenience. Today, we’re going to go through the best iPhone Shortcuts currently available.
If you’re new to Shortcuts, this post will hopefully give you plenty of inspiration to start creating your own Shortcuts. And if you don’t care to make your own, don’t worry! You’re about to have ten great ones on your iPhone, so you don’t need to make any.
While researching for this post, I realized that a lot of articles just describe what the Shortcut does. They don’t tell you how it works or how to make it yourself.
Now, you can just download Shortcuts from links online. It’s a great way to add Shortcuts to your iPhone that you might not have been able to come up with on your own. But when this is all you’re supplied with, it can make it feel like this is the only way to get new Shortcuts.
I, however, want you to feel like you can come up with your own great Shortcuts, too. So alongside each Shortcut will be a short description of how it works. I won’t be explaining how to build each Shortcut in a step-by-step way because you can just download the Shortcut and look at its steps for yourself. But I do want you to understand how these work so you can copy and steal ideas and techniques from them.
Alright, let’s get started! These are the best iPhone Shortcuts in 2021.
How to add Untrusted Shortcuts to iPhone
First, before you can download Shortcuts to your iPhone, you’ll need to enable Untrusted Shortcuts on your iPhone.
An Untrusted Shortcut is a Shortcut routine that someone has shared with you. You can share Shortcuts that you’ve created as links that others can click.
The reason you have to give your iPhone permission to use these Shortcuts is that they could be viruses. The Shortcuts app has a lot of access to your iPhone’s settings, files, and apps. This means you could unknowingly download an Untrusted Shortcut that spies on your photos, crashes your iPhone, deletes information, and worse.
I don’t say that to dissuade you from using Untrusted Shortcuts altogether. Like I just explained in the section above, they’re a great feature of the Shortcuts app. However, you do need to be cautious. Don’t download Shortcuts from sources you don’t trust.
For this Best iPhone Shortcuts post, I’ve already tested and downloaded all of the Shortcuts in this list for you. So they should be more than safe to use.
To enable Untrusted Shortcuts on your iPhone, open the Settings app, scroll down to the Shortcuts app settings and tap it, then enable Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.
And that’s it! You’re ready to start using Untrusted Shortcuts with your iPhone.
10 best iPhone Shortcuts in 2021
1. Find a product on Amazon using its barcode
First up on our list of the best iPhone Shortcuts is one that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with the Shortcuts app. As the heading suggests, this Shortcut allows you to scan any barcode and search for that same product on Amazon instantly.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why this is helpful. You can use this to compare prices at the grocery store, quickly reorder a product you have at home, or find a product that you don’t know the name of.
If you go through the steps for this Shortcut, you’ll that, despite its apparent complexity, the steps involved are pretty straightforward.
The first thing this workflow does is detect a barcode using your iPhone’s camera. It then assigns that barcode to a variable so that the Shortcut can recall that barcode throughout the routine.
Then, the Shortcut makes use of a website that allows you to look up barcode information. This is a really powerful application of the Shortcuts app because it essentially adds functionality to the Shortcuts app that wouldn’t otherwise be there. It’s a super clever workaround.
Once the Shortcut finds the barcode on that website, it pulls the information from that website that will make the product associated with that barcode searchable. Then, it asks you which marketplace you would like to find the product on. Once you choose, it searches that marketplace for the product and brings you to that app/website.
To me, the big takeaway here is to remember that you can use web apps to extend the functionality of your Shortcuts. It’s an advanced technique, but it can save you a lot of time scripting. And if you don’t know how to write code, then web apps can help you accomplish things you otherwise couldn’t.
2. Get the travel time for any address instantly
Next on our list of the best iPhone Shortcuts is another straightforward routine that you can use daily.
You select an address and run this Shortcut from the context menu (long-press or right-click). When you run it, it’ll put the address into Maps, grab the driving time to that address from your current location, and then returns the driving time to you.
This is a great way to see how far away an address is from Messages, Google Search, Yelp, a business’s website, and more. You can get the drive time without needing to pull up the address in the Maps app yourself.
As mentioned, this routine is pretty simple. It pulls the address from the text you have selected, passes it to Maps and grabs the driving time using built-in Maps actions, and sends you a notification that shows you the driving time.
It then gives you the option to close the Shortcut or start navigating to that address. If you choose to navigate to that address, it just passes the address variable to Maps and gets directions.
Two factors make this Shortcut helpful for learning.
The first is that it shows how you can use system notifications to display helpful information in an instant without needing to switch apps. You can use this principle to do similar things like finding the run time for a film or song.
The second interesting factor at work here is how it uses the Shortcut Input variable to start the workflow. Unlike the Amazon Shortcut above, this one doesn’t ask you for any input. It takes input from the time that you run it and uses it to complete the Shortcut. This makes it feel more seamless and natural, as if it were a built-in iOS feature.
3. Download YouTube videos to your iPhone with one of the best iPhone Shortcuts
You don’t need me to explain why this Shortcut is one of the best iPhone Shortcuts out there. Downloading YouTube videos is something all of us have wanted to do at least once. It’s not too hard to find a way to save YouTube videos on a desktop computer (read here), but most would agree that doing so on iPhone is difficult.
Well, not anymore! This Shortcut allows you to do just that without too much trouble. It should be noted before you use this workflow, though, that it’s illegal to download any YouTube videos that you don’t own. I am not recommending that anyone download YouTube videos that they don’t own the rights to.
Before you can run this Shortcut, you’ll also need to download the free Scriptable app to your iPhone or iPad. It’s required to run a portion of the Shortcut.
Once you have that installed, though, you can download YouTube videos in video or audio format from the YouTube app. Just tap the Share button underneath a YouTube video, then tap More, then choose JAYD from the options. “JAYD” is an acronym for “Just Another YouTube Downloader”.
The first time you run this Shortcut, you’ll also be asked to give a lot of permissions to this Shortcut. That’s because it needs to be able to send data from the YouTube app to various web apps as well as save video and audio to your Photos app. All of that requires permission since this could be used for malicious purposes.
How JAYD works
This is by far one of the most complicated Shortcuts I’ve ever come across. It looks like it was written by a programmer with a lot of expertise. So I don’t expect you to necessarily be at a level where you could create a Shortcut at this level. If you can write a Shortcut like this, you don’t need to be taking advice from me.
Several lessons can be taken from this workflow on this list of the best iPhone Shortcuts.
Lesson One, the Shortcuts app may be simple, but that doesn’t mean your Shortcuts have to be simple. I’ve mentioned before that when it comes to automation platforms, Shortcuts is pretty basic. Without coding experience, I think it is just above a novelty app for most users.
This brings us to Lesson Two, which is that if you do know how to write code, the possibilities of the Shortcuts app expand dramatically. You’re only limited by your creativity and experience.
Lesson Three of this Shortcut is, once again, the importance of web apps and third-party apps. This app relies on both of these to accomplish its goals. Again, experience will dictate you’re abilities here slightly as you may not know of any apps that can accomplish the goals you need them to. But research as well as posting around on Reddit and Stack Exchange should help you along the way.
4. Get directions the nearest coffee shop, movie theater, gas station, and more
Coming in at number four on our list of the best iPhone Shortcuts is one that you’ll probably use every time you’re in the car. It allows you to quickly pull up directions to the nearest gas station just by running the command, regardless of where you are.
You can modify this Shortcut if you want pretty easily. Just replace the keyword “gas” with a keyword of your choosing. For instance, you could change it to “movie theater”, “coffee shop”, or “thrift store”.
Whatever you put as the keyword, this shortcut will instantly get you a list of nearby locations from the Maps search results for that type of business. Just make sure you change the name of this Shortcut to reflect your keyword of choice! And, if you want, you can even duplicate this Shortcut with an option for each kind of location that you like.
In my opinion, this Shortcut would work best as a Siri command or a widget on your Home Screen. So make sure that the name is a phrase that you can easily remember and repeat to Siri while driving.
Unlike the previous Shortcut, this one is a return to simplicity. It’s a great example of how much you can do with variables and minimal input. You could even modify this Shortcut yourself to have it automatically choose a location for you, or you could paste this set of steps into another Shortcut you’re working on that needs to ask the user for a location.
5. Copy a Spotify playlist to Apple Music
Next up is one of the best iPhone Shortcuts that I’m sure many of you have wished you had at one point or another. It takes URLs for Spotify playlists and then automatically copies the contents of those playlists to your Apple Music library.
I’ve covered an app called SongShift before in my Best iOS Apps For February 2021 that can do this for you if you’d prefer to go that route. However, using this Shortcut means you don’t need to rely on or pay for a third-party app.
To me, the takeaway from this Shortcut’s anatomy is how it can manipulate and make use of text. It has several steps where it’s collecting, replacing, splitting, combining, and matching text in sequence.
This is how it builds out the Spotify playlist on your Apple Music account. It breaks up your playlist into a list of text, and then it searches for each item in that list on Apple Music and, upon finding a match, adds each song to your Apple Music library.
I’ve personally had more trouble with the text manipulation component of Shortcuts more than just about anything else. It’s hard to figure out, and the action descriptions built into Shortcuts aren’t very helpful. You should study this Shortcut if you want to see how text can be worked with and modified on this app!
6. Instantly make a collage out of your photos with the best iPhone Shortcuts
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have even considered that something like this could be possible. That, coupled with its usefulness, makes it an instant add to our list of the best iPhone Shortcuts.
As the heading states, this Shortcut takes a selection of photos from your Photos app and arranges them in a grid-like collage. You can then save that collage as a single photo to your Photos app. From there, you can upload it to social media, send it to friends, or do whatever it is you do with your photos.
Although the output of this Shortcut is visual, the actions within it are mostly mathematical. There is a lot of dividing, multiplication, and repetition that is used to determine how to crop and arrange the photos into a grid shape.
The clear lesson being taught by this Shortcut is how you can manipulate photos. You can do way more than just convert between photo types and automatically send/delete your photos. You can use resizing, cropping, and combining actions to create some pretty commendable results.
While a grid might not be the most impressive arrangement, you can use the concept of this Shortcut to come up with your own version. Maybe you find a way to stitch screenshots together, create a panorama, group images of documents together, etc.
7. An improved Low Power Mode Shortcut can save your battery
It probably comes as no surprise that Low Power Mode on iOS doesn’t do all that much. It reduces a few animations and dims the screen a little, and that’s about it. The difference is so minimal that Apple has considered removing it from iOS in the past.
Fortunately, if you’re someone whose iPhone battery is running low all the time, you’ve come to the right Best iPhone Shortcuts list.
This Shortcut takes your current battery level and, depending on that level, will change certain settings on your iPhone to preserve your battery. The most basic action it will take is enabling Low Power Mode, and the most drastic measures involve shutting everything down on your phone except the ability to make calls.
In other words, this is a significantly more effective Low Power Mode.
This Shortcut is a great example of how some basic If This/Then That code can create a powerful automated routine. You only need to know the bare minimum about programming to write a Shortcut like this, which makes it a much more accessible form of scripting in the Shortcuts app.
This simplicity also means that you should be able to read and modify the steps in this workflow pretty easily. You can change the percentages that cause certain steps to take place and you can also remove or add steps as you see fit.
8. Turn your iPhone into a security camera instantly using one of the best iPhone Shortcuts
The subject matter of this next Shortcut is a little darker in tone than the rest of the best iPhone Shortcuts on this list. However, it’s a testament to how digital automation can not only be a convenience but something of real importance in your life.
This Shortcut was originally designed for recording police encounters. The idea is that you activate once you’re pulled over or otherwise begin an interaction with the police. The Shortcut will then dim and silence your iPhone, start recording, and collect your current location.
It also sends a text message to a recipient of your choosing (you have to enter this information yourself before running the automation) letting them know that you’re interacting with the police.
Whenever you stop the video recording on your iPhone or iPad, it’ll return your brightness and volume to normal, save your video, send the video to that same recipient(s), and then upload the video to your iCloud and/or Dropbox account. That way, if you’ll still have it even if it’s deleted from your iPhone.
You could of course modify this routine for other situations in which your safety is a concern. All you would need to do is ask Siri to run the Shortcut as soon as you notice yourself in a bad situation, and your iPhone will start collecting evidence for you.
Aside from the significance a Shortcut like this can have on your life, it’s a stellar example of how one Shortcut routine can balance so many different applications and features on your iPhone at once. It engages with six different apps and five different device settings.
Your Shortcuts don’t have to be limited to one app or setting – they can be as broad as your imagination.
9. Share your WiFi without sharing the password
Coming in at number nine on our list of the best iPhone Shortcuts is an automated routine that’ll come in handy when you have friends over.
It’s a pretty simple Shortcut – you just add your WiFi password to the workflow. Then, whenever you run it, it’ll display a QR code with your WiFi password on it. You can run this Shortcut whenever you want to share your WiFi passwords as a QR code, or you can save the image of the QR code and send it to your friends, pull it from your Photos app, or even print it out and tape it to your wall.
Just know that before you run this Shortcut you’ll need to manually add your WiFi password to it in the Add Wi-Fi password text field.
There are three main ways that this Shortcut can be particularly useful.
The first is for privacy. If your WiFi password is a password you don’t feel comfortable sharing with others, then you can use this as a way of sharing it without needing to divulge your password.
The second is for memory’s sake. If you’re like me, you probably have a hard time remembering your WiFi password, both because it’s a random string of characters and also because you don’t type it out very often. This QR code Shortcut makes it easy to share your WiFi password without needing to remember it.
The third scenario in which this Shortcut is helpful is when your friends have Android phones. You may have noticed before that iOS has a feature that allows you to share your WiFi password with friends who are nearby. If they try to get on to a WiFi network that you’re already connected to, a popup will appear on your iPhone that says “Share WiFi Password”. This accomplishes the same task as this Shortcut.
If your friends don’t have an iPhone, however, then you won’t be able to use this feature. It also won’t work if your friend’s iPhone is too old to run the latest iOS software. This Shortcut can be a supplement in these situations.
How the WiFi QR code Shortcut works
Alright, so how does it work?
All this Shortcut does is pull your WiFi information from your WiFi network, combine it into a script with your WiFi password, then convert that script into a QR code.
This is made possible by the fact that Shortcuts includes an action for creating a QR code. It’s a pretty powerful feature, considering how simple most of the other Shortcuts actions are. Without this action, you’d need to find a third-party app that could do this for you.
That’s the lesson from this Shortcut, too! Not only should you be aware of the fact that you can generate QR codes from Shortcuts, but you should also look through all of the actions in the Shortcuts app. There are several actions that you might not be aware of that could completely change what you think Shortcuts is capable of.
10. Identify and add a song to your playlist of choice using Shazam and the best iPhone Shortcuts
The last and final Shortcut of this best iPhone Shortcuts list is probably my favorite, even if it’s incredibly simple.
It’s called Shazam & Save and that’s exactly what it does. It listens to whatever song is currently playing and then adds it to your Apple Music library. By default, it’ll add songs to your library, though you’ll have the option to set it to a playlist if you like when you add it to your Shortcuts library.
This Shortcut is a testament to how third-party apps and services can strengthen the Shortcuts app. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Third-party app actions are the backbone of any digital automation service. The more integrated app actions a platform has, the more things you can do with that platform.
Start using and creating the best iPhone Shortcuts today
And that’s it! These are ten of what I believe to be the best iPhone Shortcuts you can use in 2021. They’re far from the only ones, however, so be sure to keep scrounging around. I’ll be adding future posts that contain even more Shortcuts for you to use.
I genuinely hope you were able to learn a lot from this post! It wasn’t just my goal to share some great Shortcuts with you. I also wanted to give you plenty of background info on how and why they worked. That way, you would feel more confident in creating your own.
Some of my favorite and most-used Shortcuts are the ones I created myself. It can take a while to get it right at first, and sometimes you’ll run into a problem that you don’t know how to solve. But the more you experiment and study, the more you’ll be able to do with this app.
For more guides, tutorials, and insights into all things Apple, check out the rest of the AppleToolBox blog! And if you want to learn more about the fundamentals of the Shortcuts app, read this post. I also covered the basics of Automator on Mac, which you can read here.
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