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iOS 12 Shortcuts: 12 you should be using

It's time to make your iPhone work for you.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With the launch of iOS 12, Apple launched a new app called Shortcuts. Well, technically, the app isn't new. Shortcuts is just a rebranded and more capable version of Workflow.

To add any of the below Shortcuts to an iOS device, tap on the "Add" link, followed by Add Shortcut. Make sure you're viewing the Shortcut in mobile Safari, otherwise you may run into issues. 

Alternatively, you can view the steps in each Shortcut before adding it to your device if you want to check out how it works, or make sure it actually does what it promises.

Below are 12 Shortcuts that should be useful to just about everyone.

Check Spelling

Autocorrect is nice, but it doesn't catch and change every typing mistake we make. You can copy and share any block of text from another app to this Shortcut, which will change the text to a version it considers correct.  

Add Check Spelling to your Shortcuts app.

Amazon Price History

The next time you're shopping for something you don't need right away, use this Shortcut to check an item's price history. The easiest way to use it is to view the item in the Amazon app (or in Safari) and use the Share button to send a link through Shortcuts.

Add Amazon Price History to your Shortcuts app.

Do Not Disturb Timer

iOS 12 brings new Do Not Disturb controls, including a new option to set custom DND times. When you run the Shortcut you'll be asked to select minutes or hours, and then enter the amount of time you want DND to remain active.

Add Do Not Disturb Timer to your Shortcuts app.

Intelligent Power

If you stress over battery life, this Shortcut shared on Reddit will use your current battery percentage, compare it with your predefined settings and tailor your device's performance to squeeze the last few minutes of power out of your battery.

Add Intelligent Power to your Shortcuts app.

Install Main Apps

One of the biggest chores when setting up an iPhone from scratch is searching the App Store and installing all of your main apps. This Shortcut, also from Reddit, lets you enter the name of apps you can't live without. The Shortcut will then go through the list, providing links to each app in the App Store for easy downloading.

Add Install Main Apps to your Shortcuts app.

Convert Video to GIF

Sometimes an animated image is easier to share, or better suited for a citation than a video. This Shortcut will present your videos to you so you can choose one to edit and turn into a GIF.

Add Convert Video to GIF to your Shortcuts app.

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Shoot a GIF

This Shortcut opens the Camera app, ready to take a set number of photos (four by default). After the last photo is taken, it combines them into an animated image.

Add Shoot a GIF to your Shortcuts app.

Time Machine

A fun and easy way to relive memories is to look at your Camera Roll. Run this Shortcut to view photos saved in your Photos album one year previously. You can customize the Shortcut to go back even further if you want. Be warned, it can be addictive. 

Add Time Machine to your Shortcuts app.

Download File

Downloading files on iOS isn't the easiest process. With this Shortcut, you can share a link to the file to Shortcuts. The app will then download the file, and ask where you want to save it.

Add Download File to your Shortcuts app.

Unzip and Save 

ZIP files are a hassle to deal with on an iOS device since there's no clear-cut way to deal with them. The next time you find yourself staring at a ZIP file on your iPhone or iPad, use the share sheet to unzip and save its contents.

Add Unzip and Save to your Shortcuts app

Expand URL

Shortened links can be used in nefarious ways to hide the true destination of a URL. If you're suspicious that a bit.ly link (or any other shortened link, for that matter) is going to take you somewhere it shouldn't, then use this Shortcut to view the expanded URL.

Add Expand URL to your Shortcuts app.

Backup [sic] Your Shortcuts 

I found this one on the Sharecuts site, and it's sure to come in handy should anything happen to your Shortcuts. By default, Shortcuts are synced via iCloud between your iOS devices, but should anything ever happen to your database, you'll be glad you backed up your Shortcuts.

Add Backup Your Shortcuts to your Shortcuts app.

Where to find more Shortcuts

I found the Shortcuts listed in this post on various websites and services. Some date back to when Workflow first launched. I didn't keep track of where I found some of the Shortcuts, so if you created one of the ones listed above, please reach out to me and I'll give you credit.

That said, I find new Shortcuts, or at the very least inspiration for my own Shortcuts, in the following places:

  • Reddit: The Shortcuts subreddit is full of passionate users who are constantly creating, tweaking and discussing Shortcuts.
  • MacStories: Federico Viticci is arguably the most passionate Shortcuts user, and he shares some fairly complex creations on his website. Beyond that, he actually explains how the Shortcut works, oftentimes line by line.
  • Sharecuts: A free website that hosts curated Shortcuts from various users.
  • Gallery: There's a gallery section in the Shortcuts app that lists various Shortcuts, some of which I've included below.

Originally published on Oct. 1, 2018.
Update, Nov. 19: Adds more Shortcuts.

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