Apple’s Shortcuts app is largely marketed as a way to create custom voice triggers for Siri, but it can be a hard sell since you have to remember all the trigger words if you create more than a few shortcuts.
One simple workaround: use location data to make your iPhone do whatever you want—open your garage door, turn on lights, play music, or all of the above at the same time. Many tasks we want to automate happen in specific places, like when you sit down at your desk or when you’re standing in front of the coffee maker.
With an iPhone XS or later running iOS 13.1+, you can use the device’s NFC reader to scan NFC tags placed around your home to trigger tasks set up in Shortcuts. Just tap your phone on anything with NFC—like a bank card, home, or gym fob, or NFC stickers—and sit back while Shortcuts does the heavy lifting.
How to Create an NFC Shortcut
To create your own NFC-triggered shortcuts, open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone, tap the Automations tab on the bottom, and select Create Personal Automation. Scroll down to NFC.
Tap Scan and hold the top of your phone near your NFC tag of choice. Select Next > Add Action, then choose what will take place, like Apps, Apple TV Remote, Sleep Apple TV, etc.
Tap the plus sign to add more items to run. When you’re done, select Next in the top-right corner. You will see a confirmation screen of the tasks that will run when the tag is scanned. I recommend turning off the toggle that says “Ask Before Run” so you don’t have to confirm anything on your phone—which is part of the convenience of passive NFC scanning in the first place.
Ideas for NFC Shortcuts
Now you know how to create an NFC Shortcut, here are a few ideas for the types of automations to run.
When I sit down at my desk, I’m looking for a little background music with new and random songs, but also something I know I’ll like. For this scenario, I first made a smart playlist in Apple Music comprising songs I’ve added in the last seven weeks and listened to more than two times. I call it, “Recent quality.”
I have an NFC sticker under my desk, out of sight, that I can scan to:
- Get the playlist: Recent quality
- Play it on shuffle
- AirPlay to a HomePod on my desk
- Set the volume to 10 percent
A desk at home or the office is also a great place to use NFC tags to set timers to remind you to stand up or switch tasks.
I don’t know about you, but dedicated movie nights are infrequent enough that I forget what trigger word I’m supposed to say for Siri to get ready for a movie by turning the lights to a certain hue and waking up Apple TV.
An NFC tag hidden on the coffee table is an easy fix. You might also want to use an NFC tag somewhere in the living room as a way to turn everything off in one tap when you’re heading out.
Most families with young kids probably have a bedtime routine that could benefit from a little automation. When I scan an NFC sticker on a light switch it:
- Plays a saved playlist on grouped Sonos speakers
- Dims the hall lights to 40 percent
You can AirPlay music to newer Sonos speakers directly through the Shortcuts app, but if you have the connected speakers without AirPlay or don’t want to play music from your phone, you can use IFTTT to hook directly into Sonos through Shortcuts.
MacStories has a quick and easy overview on how to use Sonos with IFTTT, but essentially you’re creating a web address that the Shortcuts app is using to trigger a certain action on Sonos speakers—or another supported IFTTT service.
Set a nighttime or bedtime shortcut by scanning an NFC sticker placed on your nightstand to dim or turn off smart lights, make sure Apple TV is turned off, and set a classical music playlist via AirPlay.
In the morning you can tap another sticker, maybe in the closet or by a dresser to AirPlay a news podcast, pull up traffic conditions, show your calendar, and see the weather for the day.
Place an NFC sticker strategically on your French press or AeroPress for a handy way to automatically set a coffee timer so you don’t have to fiddle with settings before you’ve had your caffeine.
If you like to listen to music or podcasts while you do the dishes, place an NFC tag on the counter next to the sink where you lay your phone.
A strategically placed NFC tag outside your garage is a great way to take advantage of a newer garage door opener with Wi-Fi (or an older one with a Wi-Fi adapter attached).
If you ever exited your garage on foot you’ve probably closed the garage door, and sprinted to escape before it closed or tripped the sensors. Instead, set up an NFC shortcut on the outside of your house to close the garage door.
If you use MyQ, this will need to be done through IFTTT using a webhook, but it works the same way the Sonos one does.
Do you have a card or key fob for your gym that has NFC embedded? If so, you can use that to trigger timers or playlists specific to your workout time. Maybe you don’t want to be distracted during your workout, so set Do Not Disturb to activate for a certain amount of time to focus and get through a certain number of reps.
Tech Savvy and Enthusiast, Android Lover … Can help on Tech-related issue because is a passion to me