Using Siri Shortcuts

Last Updated: Sep 19, 2019 08:26PM CEST

Learn how to use Apple’s Shortcuts app with Things to speed up common actions, such as creating to-dos with prefilled content or quickly viewing your lists.

These instructions are for iOS 13.1 and iPadOS 13, which will be released on September 24. If you are using iOS 12 or iOS 13.0, please read these notes.

Here are some examples of when shortcuts can come in handy:

  • Adding a to-do to a specific list.
  • Creating a new to-do based on the contents of your clipboard.
  • Creating a travel checklist based on a predefined template.
  • Creating to-dos hands-free by having a conversation with Siri.
  • Opening Things and searching for a tag.

You can create these shortcuts via Apple’s Shortcuts app on iPhone or iPad, and then trigger the action through a voice command, the Shortcuts widget, or directly via the Shortcuts app.

These features require iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and Things 3.10 or later.

This article is part of a series on using Siri with Things. If you are looking for more ways to use Siri, please check out this page.

Create to-dos with presets

A preset allows you to predefine certain attributes so you don't have to apply them manually every time you enter a similar to-do.

For example, if you are planning a trip to Japan and research places to visit and things to do, you might want a way to quickly add those ideas to your project. You can create a shortcut which already has your destination preset, as well as a tag so you can quickly filter the list by fun stuff to do.

Here's how to set this up:

  1. On your iOS device, go to Shortcuts > + Create Shortcut.
  2. Tap + Add Action.
  3. Tap the Apps icon.
  4. In the list of apps, scroll down and tap Things.
  5. In the list of actions, tap Add To-Do.
  6. Tap Show More >.
  7. Tap List and select your travel project.
  8. Tap Tags, select a tag and confirm the selection by tapping Done.
  9. Make sure that Edit in Things is turned on – it will allow you to make changes to the to-do before it's saved.
  10. In the upper-right corner of your screen, tap Next and give your shortcut a name.

When you say “Hey Siri, Japan trip activities”, Things will open and present you with a new to-do that has its tag and list preset – all you need before saving it is a title.

Using presets to create to-dos

Here are a few more examples where presets can save you a lot of time:

  • “Hey Siri, today!” – Create a shortcut that already has the Today list preset as the destination. To do that, simply tap When while setting up your shortcut and type “Today”.
  • “Hey Siri, finances!” – Create a shortcut that has the Money tag applied and goes straight to your Finances area. Great for when you want to capture any reminders about payments or ideas for savings opportunities.

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Create ready-made to-dos

With a ready-made to-do you set up the entire task in advance and then just invoke the shortcut to create it. These are great for to-dos that always stay the same.

For example, when you travel often, you likely already have a checklist of everything you need to pack before you head out the door. Instead of typing the same list over and over, a shortcut to a ready-made to-do will give you more time to actually get the packing done:

  1. On your iOS device, go to Shortcuts > + Create Shortcut.
  2. Tap + Add Action.
  3. Tap the Apps icon.
  4. In the list of apps, scroll down and tap Things.
  5. In the list of actions, tap Add To-Do.
  6. Add a To-Do title.
  7. Tap Show More >.
  8. Pick a List to add the new to-do to.
  9. Add a Checklist – each new line equals one checklist entry.
  10. In the upper-right corner of your screen, tap Next and give your shortcut a name, for example: “It's travel time”.

When you say “Hey Siri, it's travel time!”, a new to-do with the title “Packing List” listing all the items you need to bring on your trip will be created in your Work area. This will all happen in the background without Things opening.

Using ready-made to-dos

Here are a few more examples where ready-made to-dos can come in handy:

  • “Hey Siri, blog post draft!” – List all the steps you need to run through so you can publish the perfect blog post, from writing the first draft, collecting images and proofreading, to publishing.
  • “Hey Siri, weekly meeting!” – Make sure you don't forget to bring reports, notes, and presentations to the next meeting with your team.
  • “Hey Siri, party time!” – Is the weekend finally here? Then create your party checklist to make sure you have everything to mix your favorite drinks, hunker down with some tasty snacks, and have a great time with your friends.

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Conversational Shortcuts

To have the greatest flexibility when setting up a shortcut, use can use the new Ask me each time parameter. It will allow you to have a "conversation" with Siri where you can speak each part of a to-do, without having to manually select or type anything.

Here’s how to set it up:

  1. On your iOS device, go to Shortcuts > + Create Shortcut.
  2. Tap + Add Action.
  3. Tap the Apps icon.
  4. In the list of apps, scroll down and tap Things.
  5. In the list of actions, tap Add To-Do.
  6. Tap To-Do and from the QuickType Suggestion Bar above the keyboard, pick Ask Each Time.
  7. If you’d like to add this parameter to other parts of your to-do, tap Show More and repeat these steps.
  8. When you’re done, tap Next in the upper-right corner of your screen and give your shortcut a name.
Setting up an Ask Each Time shortcut

A few things to note:

  • If you added Ask Each Time everywhere, but then decide to not add the new to-do to a specific list, or not add any tags, just say “No list” or “No tags”.
  • It’s not possible to skip the Ask Each Timeparameter in the Notes section. If you say “No notes”, that’s what will be added to the notes of the new to-do.
  • To create separate checklist items, you need to speak “new line” after each checklist item.

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View a list or “pin” a tag

If you find yourself working with a specific list more than others, or if you need to see all the to-dos with a particular tag often, a shortcut can help you access that information in a breeze.

  • On your iOS device, go to Shortcuts > + Create Shortcut.
  • Tap + Add Action.
  • Tap the Apps icon.
  • In the list of apps, scroll down and tap Things.
  • In the list of actions, tap Show List.
  • Tap Show More > Filter by Tags.
  • Select a tag.
  • When you’re done, tap Next in the upper-right corner of your screen and give your shortcut a name.

When you now say “Hey Siri, show my calls”, Siri will open Things and search all your to-dos for those that have the Phone tag attached. If you preset a specific list in the shortcut, you can also filter the Today list or one of your own lists by a tag.

Search Things for a all to-dos with the same tag

Tip: You can use conversational features in this shortcut to make it more flexible – just add the Ask Each Time parameter to the list selection and the tag selection.

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Add clipboard content to your to-do

When to-dos come to you from other sources – emails, notes, websites, etc. – you can select the text you want to turn into a to-do and use a preset or ready-made to-do to automatically add it to your new task.

You can paste the clipboard contents into the following fields:

  • Title
  • Notes
  • Checklist

We recommend only selecting one field to be filled with clipboard content because Things already processes text with line-breaks intelligently:

  • Title: the first line will be added as the title, the rest will be added to the notes section.
  • Notes: the entire clipboard content will be added to the notes.
  • Checklist: each line of your text will become its own checklist item.

Here's how you can use this feature to turn a list of tasks from an outside source into a checklist in Things:

  1. On your iOS device, go to Shortcuts > + Create Shortcut.
  2. Tap + Add Action.
  3. Tap the Apps icon.
  4. In the list of apps, scroll down and tap Things.
  5. In the list of actions, tap Add To-Do.
  6. Tap To-Do and from the QuickType Suggestion Bar above the keyboard, pick Ask Each Time.
  7. Tap Show More > and edit any fields you want to preset or be asked about.
  8. Make sure that Edit in Things is turned on – it will allow you to make changes to the to-do before it's saved so you can add a title, etc.
  9. Tap Checklist and from the QuickType Suggestion Bar above the keyboard, pick Clipboard .
  10. When you’re done, tap Next in the upper-right corner of your screen and give your shortcut a name.

The next time you copy a list from an email or a note into the clipboard and invoke the shortcut, Things will now open with a new to-do. The checklist will already be filled with your text selection. If you have Universal Clipboard enabled, you can even select text on the Mac and then run the shortcut on iOS!

Adding clipboard content to a preset

Tip: Looking for a non-work related use case? If you like to cook and research recipes, a shortcut like this can help you quickly create a shopping list when you select the ingredients on a website and then pass them as a checklist into a new to-do in Things.

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Using the same shortcut on both iPhone and iPad

Things for iPhone and iPad are technically two different apps, which means that any Things shortcuts you create on one device won’t work on the other device.

You can work around this limitation by using an If statement in Apple’s Shortcuts app. You can then use a single shortcut to trigger the same action on both devices.

Here’s what the If statement will look like in the Shortcuts app:

Use Shortcuts app for the same voice command across iPhone and Pad



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