Instructions on how to create Automation on iPhone and iPad

Automation is one of the best features of the Shortcuts app for iPhone and iPad. Here are How to use automation features on iPhone, iPad.

Automation feature on iPhone

Apple has integrated the Shortcut app directly into iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. After years of continuous improvement, you can now comfortably create notification-based automations right at your iPhone & iPad.

Automation – Automation is basically the shortcut way needed to trigger a specific action. While you can trigger a standard shortcut using Siri, pressing a button or via a widget is Automation’s way of automating the corresponding task.

Instructions on how to create Automation on iPhone and iPad

How Automation works on iPhone and iPad

Previously, Apple sold the Shortcuts app under the name Workflow on the app store, but now it’s built into iOS 12.

You can ask Siri to create a shortcut (a predefined set of actions) or press a button on your iPhone or iPad to do it. Now the activation of the shortcut will happen automatically based on the selection parameter. It can even run in the background on the system and use external triggers like NFC. The Shortcuts Automations feature is available on devices running iOS 13.1 or iPad 13.1 or later.

However, not all shortcuts are automated.

By default, Automation displays a message that you can activate the shortcut after tapping Run. Some shortcuts based on direct physical actions on iPhone or iPad will run automatically.

How to create event automation on iPhone or iPad

You can create two types of Automation on your iPhone or iPad: Personal and Home. Personal automation related to iOS and iPadOS devices. Home Automation refers to HomeKit devices.

In this article, we focus on personal automation on iPhone/iPad. Here are detailed instructions:


  • Time of Day: You can activate this action at any time of the day, at sunrise or sunset.
  • alarm: This shortcut runs when the alarm clock stops or goes on snooze.
  • Apple Watch Workouts: Activate it when starting, pausing, or ending a workout on Apple Watch.


  • Arrive: Activate based on location when you reach a specific location.
  • Leave: Activated when you leave a certain position.
  • Before I Commute: This action tries to predict the time you usually leave work or home and activates the shortcut at the specified time or up to an hour before you leave.
  • CarPlay: Activate the shortcut when you connect or disconnect CarPlay.


  • Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Low Power Mode: The shortcut activates when you enable/disable these settings.
  • NFC: With this setting, you can tap your iPhone on the NFC sticker and run a shortcut. Newer iPhones (iPhone XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max) can run NFC shortcuts in the background.
  • Open App: Trigger runs a shortcut when you open any application.

iOS 14 has added a few new activation options:

  • Sleep: A passive trigger can be set up when Wind Down – Rest starts, when Bedtime arrives – Sleep time, or when awake using the new Sleep – Sleep feature of iOS 14.
  • Email: A passive trigger when you receive an email that meets specific requirements, such as the sender, subject, or account you received it from.
  • Messages: Same as email trigger but for SMS and iMessages.
  • Battery level: A passive trigger that launches automatically when your iPhone’s phone battery level is at, low, or higher than the threshold you set.
  • Charger: An active trigger, which starts automation when you connect your iPhone or disconnect the charger to it.

These changes are currently only available in iOS 14. In this operating system, not all passive triggers require you to interact with a notification to get started. Automation has activated according to the time of day, can now be set to run automatically, instead of waiting for the user to enter information as before.

Now follow the example below to understand better. Let’s say you want to create a shortcut that plays melodious music when you open the Twitter app. Open the Shortcuts app, then tap Automation in the toolbar below.

Tab Automation on iOS 13

Next, tap the (+) At the top. If this is your first time using Automation, you can skip this step.

The plus button on the Automation task

Here, touch Create Personal Automation.

Choose to create a personal automation on iOS 13

You will see a list of tasks listed above. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and tap Open App.

Select open application

Touch Choose in section App. Search & select this app. Press Done to return to the previous screen, then tap next.

Tap Next after opening the app

Now, touch Add Action. You can scroll through suggested actions or explore tasks based on apps and categories.

Touch Actions on iOS 13

The best way to find a task is to search for it. Touch Search at the top, then type Play Music. In section Action, touch Play Music.

Tap Play Music on the task list

On the next screen, tap Music.

Tap the Music button

Touch bar Search to find a playlist or song or browse the data in your library.

Search songs to automate actions on iPhone

Search this list, then tap a song or playlist to see detailed information.

Select the playlist you want

When the desired selection is found, tap the + to select it.

Touch the plus button to select the desired song or playlist

Touch next.

Click Next to continue the action

You can now see the details of the automation activity divided into When and Do sections. This option supports activation in the background so you can enable the “Ask Before Running“.

When satisfied with Automation, tap Done.

New automation task window on iOS 13

Now when you open the Twitter app, the selected playlist or song will play. If background activation is not enabled, you will see a message. Touch Run to launch the shortcut.

Tap Run from the notification to launch the shortcut manually

How to run automation in the background

You can enable automation tasks that run in the background. They are always actions you can control or a direct result of actions you take on your iPhone or iPad.

The following action types support background activation (you still get notifications about them): Apple Watch Workouts, CarPlay, Airplane Mode, Do Not Disturb, Low Power Mode, NFC, Open App.

If the Home-based automation task is set up, the following actions will work in the background: A Time of Day Occurs, People Arrive, People Leave and An Accessory is Controlled. You must enable each of these features for each shortcut that supports it.

Select shortcut from tab Automations, then, turn on the feature Ask Before Running.

Option to ask before running

From this popup, tap Don’t Ask.

Option not to ask before running the program

When the shortcut is activated, you will see the message: Running your automation.

Enable Automated Shortcuts

How to create NFC-based automation

You can use an empty NFC tag as a shortcut trigger. This App Shortcut does not write any data to that tag, but only uses it as a trigger.

Newer iPhones (iPhone XS, XR, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max or later) can use NFC tags to trigger actions even when the Shortcuts app isn’t running.

Open the Shortcuts app, then the Automations tab. Touch the sign button + > Create Personal Automation > click NFC in this list.

Note: If this is your first time using the Automations feature, you don’t need to touch the button +.

Touch NFC from automation

Touch Scan optional edge NFC Tag.

Tap the Scan button next to NFC Tag

Tap the NFC tag near the top of your iPhone for a moment to scan it.

Ready to scan data

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

Name an NFC tag

You have returned to the screen New Automation, touch next.

Tap Next button after scanning

In the screen Actions, touch Add Action.

Option to add automation actions

Here you can browse suggested tasks or search for a specific task. Tap an action to select it. This example select action Send Message.

Select action in the suggestions section

In the Actions editor, you can configure action parameters such as text messages. Once done, tap next.

Customize the action then tap Next

In the overview screen New Automation, make sure you have it turned on Ask Before Running.

Adjust the switch button to trigger a new action

In this popup, tap Don’t Ask to enable automatic activation in the background.

Option not to ask before running task automation

Now you just need to hold the iPhone near the NFC tag or touch the top of the iPhone on the NFC sticker to run the shortcut.

How to automate a HomeKit

In addition to shortcut automation, the Shortcuts app also lets you set up HomeKit-specific task automation right inside the app. This is the same function as in the Home app and is not different in the way it works. Instead of tapping Create Personal Auotmation, you tap Create Home Automation.

In addition, Shortcut also helps you automate many useful tasks in daily life, such as:

  • Set multiple alarms at once: Use the shortcut Toogle Alarm > Create Alarm.
  • Wi-Fi On/Off
  • Quickly send pre-ordered iMessage messages
  • Set bedtime
  • And more

Automation in Shortcuts is just one of many exciting new features in iOS 13. Above are detailed instructions on how to use Automation on iPhone/iPad. Hope the article is useful to you.

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