How to automate Siri Shortcuts in iOS 13 and iPadOS

Creating and automating Siri Shortcuts is easier and faster with the latest versions of iOS and iPadOS.

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Image: CNET/Tyler Lizenby

Siri Shortcuts is a handy feature that's been available for the iPhone and iPad since iOS 12 debuted in 2018. Through this app, you create shortcuts that run specific commands and actions all in one fell swoop. You can trigger those shortcuts through Siri or through other methods, but manually creating a shortcut can be challenging. 

With iOS 13 and iPadOS, Apple has tried to simplify the process via a new Automation option. By using Automation, you just pick the events and actions that you want to add to your shortcut in a step-by-step fashion. You can even add multiple actions to a single event. When you're done, your shortcut is ready to go.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

First, make sure you're running iOS 13.1 or higher on your iPhone and iPadOS 13.1 or higher on your iPad. On your device, go to Settings and then General. In the General section, select Software Updates. If your software is not up-to-date, the latest update will present itself for download and installation (Figure A).

Figure A

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On your iPhone or iPad, tap the icon for Shortcuts. At the Shortcuts screen, tap the icon on the bottom for Automation. The app offers two types of automated shortcuts--a personal one that runs directly on your device, and a home one that works for everyone in a household (or small office) and can interact with smart home devices. For this story, we'll create a personal automated shortcut. Tap the button to Create Personal Automation.

At the New Automation window, you first choose the event that will trigger a specific action. You can pick a time of day or an alarm, a travel time, or a specific setting such as Airplane Mode being enabled or Do Not Disturb being turned on. As you can tell, some of the events require that you actively do something, such as enable a certain mode. 

Other events happen by themselves, such as a certain time of day occurring. For this example, we'll pick Do Not Disturb mode. Let's say Do Not Disturb mode is turned on during the night. When you turn if off in the morning, you want to hear current music from your iTunes music library. In the Settings section, tap the entry for Do Not Disturb. Tap the option for Is Turned Off. Tap Next (Figure B).

Figure B

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At the Actions window, tap the button to Add Action. At the next window, you now select the action that you want to run based on the event you chose. You can opt to run a specific app, kick off a script, take a photo or video, get a location, open or edit a file, share something via email or social network, or launch a web page. You can also review suggestions for actions based on how you use your device. In this case, tap the icon for Media and swipe down the screen. In the section for Music, tap the entry for Play Music. Tap Next (Figure C).

Figure C

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At the final Edit Automation screen, notice a switch for Ask Before Running. If this switch is turned on, you'll have to tap a notification of the shortcut before it runs; otherwise, the shortcut will run automatically based on the event. Turn the switch off. Confirm that you don't want to be asked before the shortcut runs. Tap Done (Figure D).

Figure D

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Return to your Home screen. Make sure Do Not Disturb mode is on. Turn it off. A notification tells you that the shortcut is running, and the last music you listened to should continue playing on your phone (Figure E).

Figure E

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Now, let's create another shortcut that flips the scenario. Let's say that when you play a certain song or launch a certain app, maybe one designed for meditation, you want your phone to automatically go into Do Not Disturb mode. Open the Shortcuts app again and tap the plus symbol in the upper right corner. Tap the button to Create Personal Automation. At the Settings section in the New Automation screen, tap the entry for Open App. At the next screen, tap the Choose link and select the app you want to open. Tap Done (Figure F).

Figure F

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At the next screen, tap Next. At the Actions screen, tap the button to Add Action. At the next Actions screen, tap the icon for Scripting. Swipe down the Scripting screen. In the section for Device, tap the option for Set Do Not Disturb (Figure G).

Figure G

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At the next screen, tap the entry for Off to change it to On. Then tap the entry for Turned Off and change it to another factor, such as Time, I Leave, Event Ends, or Ask Each Time. Tap Next. Then tap Done (Figure H).

Figure H

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Return to the Home screen. Open the app that you chose for the shortcut. Swipe to reveal the Control Center and you should see that Do Not Disturb Mode is enabled (Figure I).

Figure I

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