How to Create Automations on an iPhone or iPad

Khamosh Pathak

The Apple Shortcuts app has been integrated directly into iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. After years of consistent improvements, you can now create notification-based, non-triggering automations on your iPhone and iPad.

How automations work on iPhone and iPad

Apple introduced the Shortcut App under iOS 12. Previously, the application was sold on the App Store as a workflow.

You can ask Siri to initiate a shortcut (a set of predefined actions) or press a button on your iPhone or iPad to do it. From now on, a shortcut can be triggered automatically according to given parameters. This can even happen in the background and use some external triggers, such as NFC. The Automate Shortcuts feature is available on devices running iOS 13.1 or iPadOS 13.1 and later.

However, not all shortcut automations are automatic.

By default, the automation displays a notification in which you can trigger the shortcut after pressing "Run." Some shortcuts based on direct physical manipulation with the iPhone or the iPad will automatically run (more information about this below).

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How to create an event automation on iPhone or iPad

You can create two types of automations on your iPhone or iPad: Personal and Home. Personal automations are related to your iOS and iPadOS device. Home automation is linked to your HomeKit devices.

In this article, we focus on personal automations on your iPhone and iPad. Let's take a look at the actions you can trigger.


Time of the dayYou can trigger it at any time of the day, at sunrise or sunset.
Alarm: This shortcut is executed when an alarm is stopped or recalled.
Apple Watch workout sessions: This can be triggered when a workout of your Apple Watch starts, pauses or ends.


Arrival: A location-based trigger that activates when you arrive at a certain place.
Let: A trigger for when you leave a certain place.
Before commuting: This action attempts to predict when you usually leave for work or home and triggers the shortcut at the specified time or until one hour before your departure.
carplay: A shortcut is triggered when you connect or disconnect from CarPlay.


Airplane mode, Wireless, Bluetooth, Do not disturb, Low consumption mode: This shortcut is triggered when you enable or disable these settings.
NFC: With this trigger, you can tap your iPhone on an NFC sticker and run a shortcut. Modern iPhones (iPhone XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max) can run NFC shortcuts in the background.
Open application: This trigger executes a shortcut when you open an application.

Let's move on as an example. Suppose you want to create a shortcut that plays soothing music when you open the Twitter application. Open the Shortcuts application, and then press "Automation" in the lower toolbar.

Then press the plus sign (+) at the top. If you are using the Automations feature for the first time, you can skip this step.

Tap the plus sign (+).

Here, tap "Create personal automation".

You see the list of actions that we have described above. Scroll down to the bottom and tap "Open application."

Press "Choose" in the "Application" section. Locate and then select the application. Tap "Done" to return to the previous screen, then "Next".

Now press "Add Action". You can scroll through suggested actions or explore actions based on apps and categories.

The best way to find an action is to search for it. Tap "Search" at the top, then tap "Play Music."

In the "Actions" section, tap "Listen to music".

On the next screen, tap "Music".

Tap the search bar to find a playlist or song, or browse your library.

Scroll through the list, and then tap a song or playlist to view the detail view.

Tap the song or playlist.

Once you have found the playlist or song you want, tap the plus sign (+) to select it.

Tap the plus sign (+).

Tap "Next".

You now see the details of automation divided into "When" and "Do" sections. Because this option supports background triggers, you can enable the "Prompt Before Running" feature.

When you are satisfied with the automation, press "Done".

Now when you open the Twitter application, the playlist or song you have selected will be played. If you have not enabled the background firing feature, a notification appears. press "Run" to start the shortcut.

How to run an automation in the background

You can enable most of the automations to work in the background. These are usually actions that you control or that result directly from an action you perform on your iPhone or iPad.

The following types of action support the Background Trigger feature (you always receive notifications about them): Alarm, Apple Watch workouts, CarPlay, Airplane mode, Do not disturb, Low power mode, NFC and open application.

If you are configuring home-based automations, the following actions work in the background: an hour of the day, people arriving, people leaving the premises, and a controlled accessory. You must enable this feature individually for each shortcut that supports it.

Select the shortcut on the Automations tab and enable the "Ask before running" feature.

In the pop-up window, tap Do not ask.

Now, when the shortcut is triggered, you'll see a notification saying "Running Your Automation."

How to create an NFC-based automation

You can use any empty NFC tag as a trigger for a shortcut. The Shortcuts app writes no data to the tag; he uses it simply as a trigger.

The new iPhone's (iPhone XS, XR, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max and newer) can use NFC tags to trigger actions even when the Shortcuts app is not in the foreground.

Open the Shortcuts app, then go to the "Automations" tab. Tap the plus sign (+), tap "Create personal automation," and then tap "NFC" in the list.

Note that if you use the Automations feature for the first time, you do not need to press the plus sign (+).

Press "Scan" next to the "NFC Tag" option.

Hold the NFC tag at the top of your iPhone to scan it.

After scanning it, name the NFC tag, then tap Done.

Type a name for your NFC tag.

You have returned to the "New Automation" screen; press "Next".

In the "Actions" screen, tap "Add Action".

Here you can browse the suggested actions or search for one in particular. Tap an action to select it. In this example, we selected the action "Send a message".

In the "Actions" editor, you can configure the action settings, such as the text of the message. When done, press "Next".

Customize the action, then press "Next."

In the "New Automation" summary screen, be sure to activate "Ask before running".

In the pop-up window, press "Do not ask" to activate an automatic firing feature in the background.

Now, simply hold your iPhone near the NFC tag or tap the top of your iPhone on an NFC sticker to run the shortcut.

The Shortcut Automation feature is just one of many new software and awesome features in iOS 13. After the upgrade, you may also want to try activate dark mode.

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