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Apple has improved the power of the Shortcuts app tremendously with the introduction of compact UI and the ability to run the workflows built with Shortcuts anywhere in iOS 14.

One of the neat workflows that I recently built was a note-taking shortcut that could run when I use the back tap feature in iOS 14. (The back tap feature lets users trigger an app, action or Shortcuts workflow by tapping the back of a compatible iPhone three times. You can also assign a back tap action when tapping the back of a compatible iPhone twice.) When this workflow is run, it shows a note field overlaid on the screen, allowing you to create a note from anywhere in iOS without losing your place or train of thought.

Learn how to create this shortcut on your iOS device and assign it to a back tap action to trigger it from anywhere.

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How to build the Shortcut workflow in iOS 14

You can skip the steps involved below to create the workflow by downloading the workflow we created using this iCloud link.

To begin building the workflow, open the Shortcuts application (or install it from the App Store if it’s not available on your device), then select the + button to create a new workflow. Tap the search field, and then search for and add the following actions in this order:

  1. Ask For Input action with Text selected with a prompt of Add A Note.
  2. Create Note action (the Input to the Note action should automatically set to Provided Input; if not, tap Body and then set it to the Provided Input variable).

When you’re finished laying out the workflow, it should look like Figure A.

Figure A

The completed Create Note workflow will create a note by first asking you to supply text to input into the note.

The final step is to name the workflow. Tap the … in the titlebar and then provide a name and optional icon. We named our workflow Create Note with Tap for easy identification.

How to assign the Shortcut to back tap in iOS

Back tap is a feature that allows you to tap the back of a compatible iPhone with your finger to run an action. You can add a back tap action to a double or triple back tap.

To assign the workflow that we just created to a back tap action, perform these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Accessibility | Touch | Back Tap.
  3. Select Triple Tap.
  4. Select Create Note With Tap from the Shortcuts section, or whatever you named the workflow just created (Figure B).

Figure B

Adding a Shortcut workflow or other action to back tap is easy with the selector. Choose from the action running when it’s a double or triple tap.

Once the back tap is assigned, it will appear in the list under Accessibility | Touch | Back Tap. You can remove the action here if you ever decide to no longer use this workflow to create notes.

How to create a note

To run the workflow and create a note, simply tap the back of your iPhone near the Apple logo with your finger three times. The Shortcuts UI will spring to life no matter where you are at in iOS (Lock Screen, Home Screen or in another app). It will ask for input by showing a text field that will allow you to type the text to create a note (Figure C).

Figure C

Triple tap the back of your device to create a note from anywhere–even your Lock Screen.

When you’re done typing, press the Done button, and the text will be added as a new Note to the Notes app in iOS and will sync to your other devices. Triple tapping the back of your device will allow you to create another new note.

As you can see, this feature allows you to not miss the moment and forget what you need to remember. You can draft a new note from anywhere in iOS quickly and easily without opening another app.