Amazing Productivity Shortcuts for Your iPhone

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Apple’s Shortcuts app is one of the most underused apps. If you have never used that or have tried but failed to realize the power of it, then you have come to the right place. It’s well worth getting to know the ins and outs of this app. It can boost your iPhone or iPad in new ways!

The main reason why this app has been hiding under the nose is that it is preinstalled. And the apps that are not specifically useful become bloatware. Apple has always been very careful about bloatware apps unlike some companies like Samsung. And that got me thinking about the utility of the Shortcuts app.

Source: GoogleSource: Google

There are two good reasons for ignoring the Shortcuts app:

  • Simply because at first glance it is not clear what it does

  • And maybe it appears to do a lot and can be overwhelming

Either way, the Shortcuts app has finally hit the mainstream thanks to its ability to create custom app icons. I have been using a lot of shortcuts to be more productive and to reduce the useless steps, like opening an app, navigating to something that I am looking for, and then finally doing the task.

Screenshot provided by the authorScreenshot provided by the author

In a way, it follows the same habit loop. We generally have repeated tasks that we do daily. The simplest example is getting ready for your workout and playing the right music for that. Typically you would:

  1. Connect the AirPods

  2. Open the music app

  3. Select the playlist

  4. Set the right volume

  5. Turn on DND, maybe

The cue here is that you are starting your workout. The routine is the music that you always play and then the reward is the motivation and delight that you get from the music to have a successful workout.

You can automate the above task easily by using the Shortcuts app. Similar things can be done for making a quick Youtube search, setting up location-based reminders, setting up an action when you put your phone to charging at the end of the day, or when you hit low battery and the list goes on.

Screenshots provided by the authorScreenshots provided by the author

Let’s get into the cool stuff that you can do with it.

1. Set the mood for reading with reading mode

Taking a break after continuously working for a few hours and wanting to read some articles or continue the book that you were reading. You want to make sure that you get the right amount of focus when you do that. So no disturbance and some music in the background would be a good idea.

Well, this can be arranged with just a single click. Reading mode is a shortcut that allows you to set a timer, start your favorite app, enable do not disturb, and play some music.

Without Shortcuts, you have to dive into multiple places and make adjustments. With Shortcuts, however, you can enter how long you need and it’ll take care of the rest for you. Adding to its usefulness, you can run this shortcut just by telling Siri, “reading mode.”

2. A spellchecker for anything

Autocorrect is nice, but it doesn’t catch and change every typing mistake we make. You can copy or share any block of text from another app to the Check Spelling Shortcut, which will check it for spelling errors and present you with a corrected block of text, and then activate the share screen to copy the new text or share it with another app.

3. Fear no more from low battery

The most annoying part of the day is to see that low battery popup. It just kills the mood and Apple has made sure that it halts everything when the battery goes in low power mode. There is nothing much we can do about the battery going down apart from charging it on time but we can most certainly utilize a shortcut to tweak some settings that will help squeeze a few more minutes from the remaining battery. This third-party shortcut shared on Reddit will use your current battery percentage, compare it with your predefined settings and tailor your device’s performance to get the last few minutes of power out of your battery.

4. Quickly create GIFs from photos and videos

This is another interesting shortcut and quite useful as well. This shortcut will open the camera app and take a few photos and combine them to create a GIF. There is another one similar to this that can convert your videos to GIFs. Quite handy in my opinion.

5. Be safe by expanding a short URL

Shortened URLs are everywhere. We see them everywhere and we need them everywhere. The only problem is that you can never be sure of the authenticity of the URL. In cases like these, you can rely on the shortcut as well. If you’re suspicious that a shortened link such as a link is going to take you somewhere it shouldn’t, then use the Expand URL shortcut to view its true destination. Copy the URL and then trigger the shortcut. When the shortcut is done running, paste the expanded URL into Safari or the Notes app to inspect it.


I think we have learned today that shortcuts in life are quite useful. In life, you should never take shortcuts but when it comes to automating something, just do it. Also, you should be cautious when adding shortcuts created by other users, going through each action and ensuring that it does only what’s advertised. It’s always a good idea to check.

I am really thrilled about how Apple is dealing with real user problems and solving them with their innovative and creative ways. It is a wonderful time to be alive!

Feel free to reach out to me for any questions or discussions. I am available on Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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