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LockFlow: A Simple Way to Add Shortcuts to the iOS 16 Lock Screen

A shortcut isn’t worth building if invoking it is more trouble than doing the same thing another way. Fortunately, that’s rarely the case because shortcuts can be triggered in so many ways. Still, you can never have too many options because more options mean more contexts where running the shortcut saves time. That’s why I was glad to see a brand new app called LockFlow released alongside the iOS 16 release. The app makes it incredibly simple to add shortcut widgets to your iPhone Lock Screen.

There are a couple of ways to set up your shortcuts to work with LockFlow. The first option is to use a special helper shortcut that’s bundled with the app. When you run it, the shortcut prompts you to pick the shortcuts for which you’d like to make Lock Screen widgets. The shortcuts you pick will then be listed in the LockFlow app for turning into widgets.

One word of warning, though. If you have hundreds of shortcuts, the scrolling performance of the helper shortcut isn’t great. However, because Lock Screen widget space is limited, I expect that most people won’t need to use the helper shortcut often. You also have the option of adding shortcuts by hand inside LockFlow, but you need to be careful to enter the exact name of the shortcut for the widget to work.

Adding a shortcut to LockFlow can be accomplished in the app or with a helper shortcut.

Adding a shortcut to LockFlow can be accomplished in the app or with a helper shortcut.

When you’re finished adding shortcuts to LockFlow, tap on one to give it an icon and test it if you’d like. That’s it. There’s nothing else to do other than head to your Lock Screen and add one of your new widgets.

When you add a LockFlow widget to your Lock Screen, it will be a generic circle with the word Edit in the middle. Tap it and pick the shortcut you want the widget to launch, which will replace the generic graphic with the icon you picked in LockFlow. Now, whenever you tap that widget, it will run your shortcut. My only quibble with this part of the app is that I think the widget’s iconography should be a little bigger than it is.

There are a lot of interesting use cases for LockFlow. You can use the widget as an app launcher with a single-action shortcut using the Open App action. Other options include controlling HomeKit scenes, switching Focus modes, starting a favorite playlist, and a lot more.

Personally, I’ve been using LockFlow with a shortcut that I adapted from one Federico made for Club MacStories members that appends text to a dedicated section of a Markdown note in Obsidian. I’ve also used it to shuffle a playlist of every song I’ve ever marked as ‘Loved’ in Apple Music. Both are the kind of actions I want to get to as quickly as possible with little effort, which is precisely where LockFlow excels.

LockFlow is available on the App Store as a free download.

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