Shortcuts 101

How To: Lock Any App on Your iPhone Behind Face ID, Touch ID, or Your Passcode for Extra Privacy & Security

Apple does not provide a native way to lock apps on your iPhone behind Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode. For a long time, we've wanted that option for improved privacy and security, but Apple does allow developers to use its authentication protocols. Apps like Messenger, Outlook, and WhatsApp give the option to lock them down, but for the apps that don't, you can force it with a little time and effort.

How To: This Shortcut Lets You Easily Download Twitter Videos & GIFs to Your iPhone's Photos App

There are tons of different ways to download videos and GIFs from Twitter onto your iPhone for offline viewing, but frankly, they all kinda suck. You might have to download a third-party app or copy a link and paste it into a random website — and while they work, there are better options. TVDL, a shortcut on iOS, makes the process of downloading Twitter videos and GIFs fast and easy.

How To: Play YouTube Videos in the Background on Your iPhone — Even When the Display Turns Off

It's pretty clear with all of the annoying "Get YouTube Premium" pop-ups that litter the YouTube app that Google really wants you to pay for its Premium membership tier. That's why you'll see that "Get background play with YouTube Premium" ad after closing YouTube with a video playing — even in iOS 14 which supports Picture in Picture playback. But there are workarounds for background listening on iPhone.

How To: Quickly Open Your Favorite Apps Just by Tapping the Back of Your iPhone

In recent years, accessibility features on the iPhone have been given more attention by Apple, which means more people with disabilities can take advantage of everything iOS has to offer. These features are also beneficial for non-disabled users, and iOS 14 has an exciting one that everyone will want to use: Back Tap.

How To: This iOS Shortcut Finds & Downloads Free Songs for You to Listen to Offline on Your iPhone

Music streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music make it easy to find and play your favorite artists and albums on your iPhone — but they cost upward of $14.99 per month. If you're more into listening to downloaded music, a shortcut can help you find free music online that you can get and playback in almost any media player of your choosing.

How To: Get Back the 'Favorites' Phone Widget on Your iPhone's Home Screen or Today View in iOS 14

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade to iOS 14, home screen widgets chief among them. With that in mind, it's ironic that Apple placed so much emphasis on "widgets" this year when the new update removes a fan-favorite widget of the past — the "Favorites" Phone widget, which was accessible via the Today View or quick actions on the home screen. Here's how to get it back.

How To: Create Your Own Home Screen Widgets in iOS 14 for an Even More Customized iPhone

Possibly the most popular feature in iOS 14, home screen widgets are here to stay. Apple created a ton for its own apps, and third-party developers keep building ones for their own apps. But home screen widgets go beyond that since you can make a widget for practically anything you want, from a custom news feed to an inspirational picture of the day — and this is how you do it.

How To: Get a 'Select All' Button for Webpages in Safari on Your iPhone

It should be simple to select and copy all text on a webpage in Safari, but it won't work as it does in other apps. Usually, you can press-and-hold down anywhere on a page and choose "Select All" from the edit menu, but that functionality is disabled in Safari and WebKit-based browsers by default — including in the latest iOS 14 version. Luckily, there is a workaround to getting a "Select All" button back.

How To: Block Shortcuts Notifications from Showing Up Every Time You Run an Automation on Your iPhone

There are a lot of cool shortcuts you could run on your iPhone, but in iOS 13 and iOS 14, you'll likely see a notification any time you try to run an automation. Shortcuts should feel seamless when their actions are performed, and getting a banner alert each time one initializes takes away the seamlessness of it all. But there is a way to block them.

How To: Auto-Change Your iPhone's Background with MacOS Big Sur's Dynamic Wallpapers

Three new wallpapers showed up in iOS 14.0, each with dark and light versions, while iOS 14.2 added eight more. Each iPhone also has live wallpapers catered specifically for it. However, none of Apple's wallpapers are dynamic. That means they won't change automatically based on certain conditions, such as what time of day it is. MacOS's do, though, and you can get those working on your iPhone.

Blank Icon Maker: The Easiest Way to Place Apps, Folders & Widgets Anywhere on Your iPhone's Home Screen

While Apple has been making strides in iPhone customization, it's still not up to par with what Android is and always has been. You can hide apps from the home screen now in iOS 14, but for everything that's still there, you can't add gaps between icons on the same page to segregate them where you want. However, some workarounds give that effect.

How To: Easily Reveal Obfuscated Passwords Hidden Behind Asterisks & Dots for Login Pages in Safari

Enter a password into a password field, and it's a sure bet that black dots or asterisks will obscure the characters. Nearly every website you visit in Safari on your iPhone will do it, but sometimes it helps to see what you're typing or what was auto-filled with iCloud Keychain, LastPass, or a different password manager.

How To: This Shortcut Automates Sending Birthday Wishes to Your Contacts So You Never Have to Remember Again

You should know the birthday for a parent, sibling, child, or significant other, but there are just too many people in your family and contacts to remember everybody's yearly birth anniversary. Still, everyone expects you to remember their birthday. To stop looking like a jerk, go a step further than putting birthdays in your calendar and make your iPhone help you send birthday wishes when their big day pops up.

How To: Read YouTube Videos as Articles on Your Phone Instead of Watching Them

Millions of people use YouTube every day, whether it's for trailers, new music, or gameplay walkthroughs. But according to Pew Research Center, over half of U.S. adults use YouTube to figure out how to do things. If you fall into that crowd, adult or not, sometimes it's good to have written instructions to follow along with the video or in lieu of it completely.

How To: Scan Laundry Care Symbols with Your iPhone to See How You're Actually Supposed to Wash Clothes

When it comes to washing clothes, the laundry symbols on your tags might as well be hieroglyphics. They're difficult to interpret, easy to forget, and even easier to ignore. But if you don't want to ruin expensive designer clothes, blankets, and other fiber-based materials, you need to figure out the meaning behind those tiny icons. Thankfully, your iPhone can help out.