How to use watchOS Shortcuts to supercharge your Apple Watch

Shortcuts on watchOS

Out of the box, the Apple Watch is already a versatile and feature-packed device. However, you can supercharge your usage with watchOS Shortcuts.


Whether you’ve never even heard of Shortcuts, or you use them on iPhone but not Apple Watch, here are some basic tips and tricks to help you master this “watchOS superpower.”

What are watchOS Shortcuts?

Basically, watchOS Shortcuts are a way to easily trigger specific tasks or activities on Apple Watch with just a single tap. The Shortcuts app itself launched back in 2019, and has long been a lesser-known feature in the Apple ecosystem.

The simplest way to think about Shortcuts is to consider them a way to easily and seamlessly carry out a task that would normally take a few steps. For example, you can set up a shortcut to instantly give you directions back home from wherever you are. A different shortcut may automatically change your Apple Watch face at different times of the day.

Shortcuts are also fully compatible with Siri, meaning you can trigger many of them without even touching a single button.

How to create an Apple Watch Shortcut?

creating a watchos shortcut

Although you can run many Shortcuts on watchOS, you’ll need to create them on your iPhone. You can do that by opening the Shortcuts app, and then tapping the Plus icon in the upper right-hand corner.

From there, you can select from a series of Actions that you want the Shortcut to take. You can tap the Add Action button or use the search bar at the bottom of your display to look for a specific action.

Once you add an Action to your shortcut, you have a few options on how to proceed. For one, you can add another action. In my specific example, I created a shortcut that opens the Workout app, starts a Yoga workout, and then activates a Do Not Disturb Focus mode.

When it comes to actually creating Shortcuts, it takes only a bit of creativity to get awesome results. Ask yourself a few questions. What are the actions you do every day on your Apple Watch? Are there any multistep tasks you do that you could simplify? Is there anything that would be useful to be able to do hands-free?

Before you try to run your Shortcut, you should make sure that it’s on your Apple Watch. On the main Shortcuts page on your iPhone, you should check to see if the shortcut has been added to your Apple Watch.

shortcuts show on apple watch

You can do that by tapping on a shortcut on your iPhone, tapping on the “i” icon at the bottom of the screen, and making sure that Show on Apple Watch is enabled.

How to organize your Apple Watch Shortcuts

Organize shortcuts
You can easily drag and rearrange shortcuts in the app.

There’s a good chance that, once you discover the magic of Shortcuts, you’re going to be making a lot of them. So, you’re going to want to organize them.

Luckily, you can rearrange the order of your Shortcuts and even create specific folders in the Shortcuts app.

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap All Shortcuts
  3. Tap Select in the upper-right corner.
  4. Select the shortcuts you’d like to relocate.
  5. From here, you can rearrange the order of your shortcuts.
  6. Alternatively, you can move shortcuts into folders by tapping on Move.
  7. From here, you can create a New Folder or move the shortcut into an existing folder.
  8. Tap on your new folder to move the shortcut there.
  9. If you’d like to get rid of a shortcut, hit Delete in the bottom right corner.

How to run a shortcut on watchOS?

When it comes to running a shortcut on Apple Watch, you have a few different options.

run a shortcut

You can simply open the Shortcuts app on your Apple Watch and run the shortcut by tapping on the name of it. However, this isn’t as convenient as some of the other options.

The second option is to add the Shortcut as a complication to your Apple Watch face, which you can do using the following steps:

  • Tap and hold on your Apple Watch face.
  • Tap on Edit.
  • Swipe left until you reach Complications.
  • Tap on one of the complications.
  • Scroll until you see Shortcuts, and then tap on it.
  • Choose a shortcut.

Lastly, you can simply ask Siri to trigger your shortcut. For the most part, Shortcuts are tightly integrated with Apple’s digital assistant.

Just as an example, if I named my shortcut “Yoga Time,” I could just say “Hey Siri, run Yoga Time.” Sometimes, you’ll need to add the word “shortcut” to the end of your verbal command, but Siri generally handles these requests pretty well.

Things you should know about Apple Watch Shortcuts

shortcuts on watch

Shortcuts don’t just work on system settings and preinstalled Apple apps. There are a whole host of third-party apps that support Shortcuts, and many of them offer unique functionality and capabilities.

Because of that, we highly recommend spending some time playing around with the Shortcuts app. See what works and what doesn’t.

On the flip side, despite the power and flexibility of Shortcuts on watchOS, there are still a few limitations to the platform.

For one, as Apple notes, not all shortcuts actions or triggers are available on watchOS. Put simply, there are a lot more available options for iPhone or iPad than Apple Watch.

There are also some key actions or triggers missing. For example, many Apple Watch users have requested a feature that automatically triggers Power Reserve when you take your wearable off your wrist. However, the app doesn’t allow access to your device’s battery or power state.

Shortcuts are like superpowers for your Apple Watch

It’s worth noting that this is Shortcuts at its simplest. With different scripting options and actions, the app becomes a bit like coding. It’s incredibly powerful, though the learning curve for more in-depth or complicated Shortcuts can be pretty high.

Don’t let that stop you when you’re first starting out, however. Your Shortcuts can be as simple as you’d like — the whole point is to simplify the actions you take with your Apple Watch each day.

It just takes a bit of creativity, and you’ll be saving precious minutes each day in no time!

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Mike Peterson
Mike Peterson is a writer, strategist, and certified yoga teacher based in San Diego. Before coming to MyHealthyApple, he was an assistant managing editor for AppleInsider and contributed to news outlets like iDrop News and AppleToolBox. He currently works as a media and public relations strategist for nonprofit companies and changemakers. When he's not writing, you can often find him on a yoga mat, at the beach, or spending time in the outdoors.


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