Create your own Apple Watch Shortcuts and pair with your exercise routine

Apple Watch Shortcuts

Starting with iOS 14 and watchOS 7, Apple has brought in the Shortcuts functionality to the Apple Watch. Now your shortcuts can run locally on your Apple Watch.

This can be really handy for several use cases. You can set up a shortcut to change the Apple Watch face and make it match with an activity. You can play from a particular music playlist or launch your podcast as soon as you start your run, all without needing to touch the watch buttons or display.

Related reading:

The Apple Watch shortcuts are available for all Apple Watch models that can run watchOS 7. For this short exercise, we used an Apple Watch Series 3 running watchOS 7 beta.

Here is a short tutorial that shows you how you can set up shortcuts to run locally on your Apple Watch.

In this example we will create a simple shortcut that will help us change the watch face to ‘Fitness / Activity’ oriented and will start a podcast when it is launched. 

Create Apple Watch Shortcuts

In order to get started with your personalized shortcut for Apple Watch running watchOS 7, follow the easy step-by-step below.

  1. Launch Shortcuts App on your iPhone to start
  2. Go Ahead and tap on the ‘…’ to add in a name for your shortcut.Create Apple Watch Shortcut
  3. Tap on ‘Shortcut Name’ and give your shortcut a name.
  4. You can also change the logo for the shortcut by choosing from various colors and glyphs in this Shortcuts Detail screen by tapping on the icon next to the name.Convert iPhone shortcut to Apple Watch ready
  5. Make sure to enable this one very important setting ‘Show on Apple Watch
  6. Tap on ‘+Add Action’ to get started
  7. By default, the Apple Watch related actions don’t pop up, Use the search bar to track down ‘ Watch’ related actions that you can incorporateShortcut Actions available for Apple Watch
  8. You will find a list of several actions that are available for you to choose from
  9. In our example, we will choose ‘Set Watch Face’Add actions to Apple Watch Shortcut
  10. Now, Tap on ‘Face’ and choose your desired Watch Face. In this example, we will pick up Activity Digital. The idea is that when we launch this shortcut, it will bring up the activity digital face on the Watch and start playing the podcast.
  11. Next, add in another shortcut action by tapping on ‘+’
  12. Tap on Media and scroll down to the section of Podcasts. Choose ‘Play podcast’Shorcit to play podcast on Apple Watch
  13. Tap on ‘Podcasts’ again and pick your favorite podcast that you want to listen to on your runPlay Apple Watch Shortcut to get podcasts
  14. Tap on ‘Next’ at the top right corner of your screen and confirm the shortcut name
  15. Now your newly created Shortcut is going to be made available under ‘All Shortcuts’ screenCompleting the Apple Watch shortcut for watchOS 7

Now that you have designed and set up the shortcut on your iPhone and marked it as Apple Watch ready’, let’s move to Apple Watch side of things.

  1. On your Apple Watch app screen, tap on Shortcuts app icon to get startedAccess Shortcuts on Apple Watch

2.   Confirm that the newly created shortcut shows up on your Apple WatchRun Shortcuts on Apple Watch

From here you can tap on the shortcut to get it started or say ‘Hey Siri RunTime’. The simple shortcut will change your Apple Watch face to ‘Digital Activity’ and start playing the selected podcast on your paired AirPods.

Instead of using podcasts, you can choose songs from your Apple Music Playlist. When doing your strength training, use a different playlist.

Perhaps you want to see your heart rate on the watch face while doing your reps. You can do all this without needing to touch your Apple Watch by simply using the shortcuts.

There are also third-party apps and their corresponding actions that you can take advantage of when creating your shortcut. We highly recommend that you spend some time exploring the options when creating your Apple Watch shortcut.

Unable to locate Apple Watch shortcuts?

Sometimes when the newly created shortcuts do not show up in the shortcuts window, try closing the shortcuts app and the app to which your shortcut action is pointing. Next, open up the app to which you are pointing your shortcut.

For example, if my shortcut has an action saying ‘Play Podcast’, in this case, I will open the podcast app. Close the app.

Now go back and Open shortcuts and check if your newly created shortcut shows up.

If for some reason you are able to see the shortcut on your iPhone, but unable to locate it on your Apple Watch, you may want to turn off the Bluetooth on your iPhone and Watch from the settings and then turn it back on and then check if the shortcuts sync with your watch.

Restarting your iPhone and Watch can also be useful in syncing the shortcuts between the devices.

Limitations around Apple Watch shortcuts in iOS 14 and watchOS 7

We love the idea around the introduction of shortcuts for Apple Watch with watchOS 7. There are however some limitations around what you can do with these watch related shortcuts.

As an example, a cool shortcut idea for the watch would to automatically go into power reserve mode when you remove it from your wrist. Unfortunately, we could not figure out a way to handle this since there were no ‘actions’ that allowed access to power state conditions on the Apple Watch.

Limited Number of Watch specific Actions for Shortcuts

The number of Apple Watch related actions in this initial offering of iOS 14/watchOS 7 beta seems limited. Here are the six actions that show up when you search for Watch related actions in the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.

  • Ping my iPhone
  • Set Always On
  • Set Silent Mode
  • Set Theater mode
  • Set Watch Face
  • Set Water Lock

This is however a great start in the right direction. We do love the potential around ‘Set Water Lock’ for swimming workouts. The silent mode should also come in handy.

The next limitation that we observed was around the ability to change the Glyph of the shortcut when it shows up on the Watch.

It simply shows the ‘settings’ icon for each of the custom shortcuts that you created.

Delete Apple Watch Shortcuts

Lastly, there were no easy ways we could find that could help you remove or delete the shortcut directly from your Apple Watch.How to delete Apple Watch Shortcuts

In order to delete a shortcut, you have to open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, tap on ‘Select’ at the top of the screen, and then choose the shortcuts that you want to delete. Tap on delete to remove. Once your Watch syncs up with your iPhone, the shortcut is automatically removed from your watch.

Since watchOS 7 is pretty much in the early beta phases, we are hopeful that Apple will add in more bells and whistles by the time they release watchOS 7 in September.

Locate Health-oriented Shortcuts on your iPhone

iOS 14 comes packed with some additional health and fitness-oriented shortcuts that you might find useful.

Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone and tap on the Gallery tab at the bottom right. Scroll down and locate the ‘Staying Healthy‘ category or you can use the search bar on the top and search for ‘Health’.Tap on ‘See All’ and it will list you eight different pre-configured shortcuts that you can use for your healthy lifestyle.

If you decide to use these preconfigured shortcuts, remember to provide access to the Health app otherwise when you run it, you may see some access errors during your first trial. Use Apple’s Shortcuts User guide and learn more about scripting and other useful features.

We hope that you found this article useful and are ready to get going with customizing your own Apple Watch shortcuts. Let us know about the shortcuts that you created and found useful for your Apple Watch!!

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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