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Workflow is an automation app for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch that’s similar to Automator on the Mac. It’s a thoughtfully designed app where you create automation flows using blocks of actions that happen one after the other. I like to think of Workflow as n apps in one, where n is a variable limited only by your use cases and imagination.
When you go in deep enough, it can be mind-numbingly complex. And as this is iOS, automation starts when you do something. The initial action required can come in the form of a Share sheet extension, widget shortcut, or an app shortcut placed on the Home screen.
So if you’ve yet to dip your toes into the wonderful world of iOS automation, here are 10 workflows to get you started.
Workflow Is What You Make It
Today we’ll only look at simple yet useful, shortcut-based workflows created by the community. You can just add them and use them without doing anything at all.
But I would suggest you use this time to notice how the workflows use different blocks and features. See if it sparks any ideas for a workflow that can solve a problem that’s personal to you.
Using Workflow Gallery
Once you’ve downloaded Workflow and set it up, tap on the Gallery tab to switch over. This section is dedicated to discovering workflows.
This is where you’ll be able to browse top community workflows based on categories, actions and what’s currently trending. Tap on a workflow and you’ll see a preview of all the blocks and the flow. Tap on Get Workflow and it will be added to your library. You can then go in and edit it.
Now that you’re familiar with the app, let’s talk about the workflows that you can just pick up and go. If you’re on your iPhone or iPad, tap on the titles to view the workflows, or just search for them in Gallery later.
I don’t know about you, but I love listening to Beats 1. It’s what usually plays in the background when I’m writing (as it is right now). And the easiest way for me to start listening to it is using this workflow. I just swipe over to the Today view, and tap on Play Beats 1 from the Workflow widget.
You might not be a Beats 1 person, but you can use a similar widget shortcut to start playing a playlist of your choosing. This is handy when you’re ready to work out, or when you’re starting your morning commute. When setting up the workflow, you’ll be asked to select the playlist you want to launch. You can duplicate this workflow to create shortcuts for different playlists.
3. Speed Dial
You can use this as a really quick way to call someone, right from the widget on your iPhone or even the complication from your Apple Watch. It might be marginally quicker than asking Siri to call someone for you.
There’s no simple weight tracking app on iOS anymore (I’ve looked). This workflow lets me quickly record my weight, right from the Lock screen or the Apple Watch and adds it to the Health app. I can then go in the Health app to see how I’m doing over time.
5. Open URLs
When you find yourself in a situation where you’ve got a link in your clipboard you want to open, this workflow lets you skip a couple of taps. Tap on Open URLs from the widget and the page from the clipboard will open in Safari directly. Pair it with macOS Sierra’s Universal Clipboard to copy web links on your Mac and quickly open them on your iPhone.
You don’t need to download an entire app just so you’ll always have the table flipping emoticon handy. This workflow creates a shortcut on your Home screen that gives you a list of ASCII emoticon that you can quickly copy to your clipboard.
This workflow lets you choose a Live Photo and convert it into a video, without ever needing an app. This makes it easy to post Live Photos to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Safari on the iPhone is not a sophisticated download manager. You could get a third party download manager or just use this workflow. You’ll be able to download a file using the link in your clipboard easily. Once the download is done, you’ll be able to save it directly to iCloud Drive or Dropbox.
9. Music Timer
If you like listening to music when you go to bed, you can use this workflow to automatically pause the music after a couple of minutes (that you can define).
10. Make PDF
This is a great example of a simple thing that Workflow does, that mitigates the need for a specific app. Just use the Share sheet extension from Safari to create a PDF for the current page you’re on.
Becoming a Workflow Pro
Once you’ve explored the blocks you’ll start coming up with ideas for workflows of your own. I, for example, have a workflow for creating screenshot images, like the ones you see in the article above. It stitches the screenshots together, resizes the image, converts it to JPEG and compresses it. Workflow does all four actions, one after the other, on its own. I just have to select the photos and select the workflow. It’s pure magic.
If you’re looking for inspiration or help, check out the Workflow subreddit. If you want to look at even more community created flows, there’s a website dedicated to that [Broken URL Removed].
Also, check out Federico Viticci’s articles about Workflow, he’s a Workflow ninja who uses automation to get work done on the iPad. There’s also a series on using Workflow on the Canvas podcast that’s worth checking out.
How do you use automation on your iPhone or Mac? Share with us in the comments below.
Image Credit: Grasko via Shutterstock.com