First introduced through the App Store alongside the release of iOS 12, Apple's Shortcuts app now comes pre-loaded onto every iPhone running iOS 13 or higher. Making it even easier to take advantage of this handy feature, new iPhone owners simply need to switch on their handset to make the most of shortcuts.

Want to know more about shortcuts, and how to use them? We'll walk you through all the basics below.

What are shortcuts?

If you're unfamiliar with Apple's Shortcuts feature, then don't worry - it's fairly easy to get used to. As the name suggests, shortcuts help you to carry out tasks in your favourite apps quickly - often in one tap.

For example, if you message the same person on WhatsApp daily, you can create a unique shortcut that will instantly open up the chat you have running with that contact. Quicker than finding WhatsApp and scrolling to your current conversation, Shortcuts essentially cut down the number of steps you need to take to complete a task.

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Shortcuts can also be triggered by an event (known as an automation) or carry out more than one action at once. There are hundreds of examples out there if you're struggling for inspiration, and you can even download pre-made shortcuts from numerous trusted sources to save you even more time.

When you create a shortcut using the Shortcuts app, you'll also have the option to add it to your home screen. It'll have its own icon - that's also customisable - just like other apps.

How to create a shortcut on iPhone

To get started, you'll need to locate the Shortcuts app. If you can't see it immediately on your home screen, swipe left until you reach your App Library. Enter 'Shortcuts' into the search bar at the top, and it'll be right there waiting for you.

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Create an Apple shortcut

  1. Open the Shortcuts app. Select Gallery at the bottom to view suggested shortcuts based on your iPhone usage, or create your own by selecting My Shortcuts.
  2. From the My Shortcuts screen, tap the + sign on the top right.
  3. Add your action or actions in the shortcut editor.
  4. Press Next, and name your shortcut. To edit the shortcut icon, tap the image on screen. A pop-up window will appear, giving you the option to choose a colour and symbol.
  5. Press Done to save your shortcut.
  6. To run your new shortcut using Siri, simply say 'Hey Siri, run (‘name of your shortcut)' to begin.

Alternatively, you can add the shortcut as an icon to your home screen to run manually. Just follow the steps below.

Add a shortcut to your Home Screen

  1. After creating a new shortcut, locate it in the Shortcuts app on the My Shortcuts screen.
  2. Tap the three dots on your shortcut, and a new window will appear.
  3. From the bottom right, select the Share button.
  4. Select Add to Home Screen.
  5. If you'd like to customise your shortcut further, tap on the icon you selected when initially creating your shortcut. From here, you can replace the icon with a photo if you wish.
  6. You can also edit the home screen name for your shortcut at this stage.
  7. When you're happy, press Add on the top-right.
  8. The shortcut will now appear on your home screen. Long press and choose 'Edit Home Screen' to move it around.

Share and Download Shortcuts

Shortcuts can become pretty complicated - in fact, they have the ability to run over 50 actions at once to automate a specific result. Longer shortcuts can take a while to input, however Apple has made it possible to share your shortcuts with others, meaning friends won't have to waste time trying to replicate your creations, and you can download pre-made ones from other iPhone users too.

If you've created an amazing shortcut that you can't wait to share with a friend, or you've found one from a reputable, trusted source online, you'll need to enable what Apple calls "Untrusted Shortcuts" (a term used for any shortcut created by another user) first. You should only enable this feature if you can completely trust the source you're downloading shortcuts from, otherwise it's best to create it yourself.

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To enable Untrusted Shortcuts, simply open up the Shortcuts app and run any existing shortcut. This will make sure the "Allow Untrusted Shortcuts" switch is available.

Next, head over to Settings on your iPhone and select Shortcuts. Find the "Allow Untrusted Shortcuts" switch and turn it on. You should now be able to share your own shortcuts with friends and family or download new shortcuts from reliable tech sources.

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