Isn't Shortcuts a bad name, when you are trying to search for help on Google?

I was wondering how people searched for help (apart from this very useful forum)?

Half of my results are actual keyboard shortcuts, I wish they’d made the name slightly more distinct.

Does anyone have any good tips?


I find the results are most accurate when I type “Apple shortcuts app” instead of shortcuts
At least now the first page or so of results seems related to the shortcuts app

Yes I use a similar “apple automation shortcuts” + search term.

yeah, I liked the original name (Workflow) better.

For searching I usually do ios shortcuts <query>

Short answer: Yes.

(Longer answer: Rotten searchability is really the least of its faults.)

“Siri Shortcuts” is the full product name. Type it in double quotes if you want to narrow the search to just that phrase, or leave the words loose for wider results.

[Very long boring aside hidden in “spoiler” tag below; ignore unless you’re interested in understanding the macro-scale problem with Shortcuts, and why the question of how to find help online is 1% as important as the question of why the need to find help online is exists at all]


BTW, this dreadful failure to connect you with the information you want is neither your fault nor Google’s; it’s 100% Apple’s.

Here’s the top two Google results for “Siri Shortcuts”:

(Similarly, if you search for “Shortcuts” on its own, you get those same two top results; the only difference is the mix of 3rd-party results beneath it.)

Now compare the top result when searching the word “Siri” on its own:

Spot the difference? Top-level domain, top-level page on that domain. Important, focused, right to the product itself, and why and for what you as a user should want it.

The failure to return that same result for “[Siri] Shortcuts” is dismally poor Brand building and awareness; especially unforgivable coming from a business that is—was—the greatest brand builder of the 21st century.

So why does not return as the top level result for “Shortcuts” as well? It’s the sort of careless omission that would have set Steve Jobs off like Mt Vesuvius! Probably because Tim Cook can’t do branding and marketing if his life depended on it.

BTW, I don’t know if that top-level “Siri” result link is a paid link, or just the natural result of quality SEO forever binding the name “Siri” to Apple’s product. Either way though, there’s no reason Apple couldn’t force that same URL to appear as top result for “Siri”, “Shortcuts”, and “Siri Shortcuts”, plus “Apple automation” and whatever else a typical iPhone user might search on. That they haven’t done so says that they just don’t think it that important.

(Honestly, if I was @AriX, I’d be pretty torn up about this. The only thing worse than being put out of business by an Apple is being bought up by an Apple and then being put out of business by them.)

Siri and Shortcuts today should be joined at the heart; no mention of one ever going without being tied to the other. Tim’s too busy counting his money to to play Jobs’ role of making sure every product that goes out Apple’s door is already impeccably polished; an integral component to his perfect product grid. [1] And he hasn’t got the courage/imagination to make the teams under him their own advocates and stakeholders, driving their own products to market success.

This failure to make Shortcuts and Siri into a single smooth continuum is doubly ironic when we consider the whole point of Apple buying WorkflowHQ in the first place was to make Siri actually useful to customers. Let’s face it: the original Siri was overwhelmingly useless. Shortcuts enabled third-party developers and users trivially to plug in an infinite supply of new commands into the Siri engine. And yet, from the public gallery, the entire Siri platform seems largely today to languish. [2]

I liked the original name (Workflow) better

“Workflow” is not only a lousy generic name in terms of search results, it sends the exact opposite message of what Shortcuts needs to send: that it’s a way to speed up your own simple daily tasks by telling Siri to take care of them for you. A brand name like “Workflow” suggests “formal business process”, “nerdy technical complexities”, “Microsoft-y business-y guff” is the absolute last thing any Apple product should convey; least of all one explicitly intended for consumer market end-users.

That said, “Shortcuts” is also a rotten name. Simply because here should be NO distinction between one Siri Action and multiple Siri Actions pre-chained together [3]. “Action” should be the only term ever used to describe what Siri does, capturing both the commands that Apple built into Siri and the plug-in commands which end-users can add for themselves. That’s a failure of joined-up thinking for which both WorkflowHQ and Apple are equally at fault.

Shortcuts is a dreadfully shaggy dog. Apple should be selling a greyhound.

So, here’s a self-test you can run:

What is your most powerful Siri automation?

I’m willing to bet each person here will dive on this question, eager to wax lyrical on the many clever, sophisticated, intricate workflows you have crafted for yourselves, and how much time and work running them saves you personally.

Aaaaand, you’d all be Wrong. The most powerful Siri automation is a single command. Especially a single command being used by millions. Everything else is just obstructions, all the friction and pain that stands between the user and her getting what she wants done.

That is the real problem which Siri Shortcuts has not yet solved, which I’m not even sure Apple realizes itself is its problem.

So congrats if you read this far and, as a gift horse, here’s an far more Googleable product name for your future consideration:


AMA if that sounds of interest to you.

[1] The sole comment underneath that video is both amusing and so very telling.

[2] External appearances can be deceptive, of course: internally Apple’s plans might be far advanced over what customers are seeing today, with unimagined awesomeness to drop imminently. OTOH, the Siri bandwagon might already be out of juice. The real problem is today’s Apple lacks people prepared who to “rock the boat” and “git it done”. As corporate culture, this is understandable for a logical process and logistics guy like Cook, not a creative products and markets man like Jobs. Supply chain people fear and hate disruption, working constantly to squash it everywhere they find it. But it’s also why Apple feels so “flat” and uninspiring nowadays. An institutional weakness with a real, growing, risk that if Apple will not disrupt itself from inside, sooner or later someone else will disrupt it from outside… and just ask Microsoft how that works out.

[3] A “workflow” is simply a composite Action which someone has assembled out of other, existing Actions. It has inputs, it has outputs; it performs some task when called. There is—or rather should be—no conceptual or usability difference between a primitive Action made by a professional programmer and a composite Action made by a developer or user. Shortcuts, née Workflow, is conceptually over-complicated because none of its authors gave thought to making it conceptually simple. Alas, this is a failing common to end-user programming systems designed by programmers. But when every ounce of complexity is another million potential users lost, rigorous simplicity is the difference between mass-market success and niche failure. And Siri Shortcuts is crazy complex for its intended audience.

TL;DR: That OP is searching for Help online really says it all.

“Siri, How do I use you?”


Rats: the forum software doesn’t appear to understand [spoiler]…[/spoiler] tags. I wanted to hide that digression under a fold so as not to derail. Anyone know if there’s a way to do this? In a forum thread that’s talking about the difficulties of finding Help, ironically I can’t find any Help for the forum software itself.

ETA: thanks, @supermamon. Out of interest, from where did you learn it yourself?


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1 Like

Question: Has anyone here thought to ask Siri how to use Siri?

If so, what happened? And what did not?

I learned from the welcome message when I joined to forum.
In your inbox on the site, there should be a message there from (@)AutomatorBot titled :robot: Greetings!”. I followed the instructions from there.

@supermamon: Hmm, I see a “Greetings” message but nothing that is obviously Help in it.

I think this makes a good [inadvertent] point that is in keeping with this thread: Help needs to be where the user currently is, when s/he needs it, at zero additional cost to that user.

A stuck user is a frustrated user. A user whose frustrations are multiplied by the problem of getting help to resolve it very rapidly turns into an ex-user.

Help needs to be reactive, adaptive, preemptive; quiet and unintrusive until such time the user needs it, then there with the answers almost while the user is still formulating her question. And never more than a click, or a word, away: ’cos if the user’s first question is “Where’s the Help?” then the Help is already failed!

Anyway, this thread is already looking pretty tapped out in satisfactorily answering OP’s question, so I’m gonna pull up my soapbox now for a full analysis of why current answers are as poor as they are and what the Siri team should be doing to correct it.

The problem with Siri Shortcuts, is Siri

That folk here are searching the web in their web browsers to find help in using Siri Shortcuts, instead of asking Siri itself to bring all the help to them proves just how far short Siri (and Shortcuts) falls of being a true end-user automation system. As a designer of end-user programming systems myself, that you all aren’t saying “Hey Siri, please help me with this…” is an instant hard #Fail in my book.

That Googling “Siri Shortcuts” doesn’t funnel users straight to is a basic SEO error. But not sending everyone into a Siri Community site is a downright atrocity. That site should consist of a user-to-user forum, reams of help documentation, loads of free sample shortcuts, and a managed shortcuts repository+distribution mechanism for workflow/action creators to share their creations with the rest of the world. Siri’s Shortcuts will never make itself useful to the 999.99 million iPhone users if Apple can’t even usefully engage 10,000 enthusiastic, engaged Makers that compose Shortcuts core users—its base.

You folks represent a Siri treasure beyond measure. You are the free key to unlocking Siri’s full market power, making Siri genuinely useful—even indispensable—to Apple’s billion iPhone customers. Yet Apple acts as if you don’t even exist!

As a Product Siri Shortcuts needs to be so much more than an App—the app itself is the least important part of its product. The most important part of the product is its Community.

So where the heck is Siri Community?

Ironically, I suspect @WorkflowHQ being absorbed by the Apple Borg ship has been a huge backwards step here. While being part of Apple makes Shortcuts automatically, freely available to a billion iPhone users (that’s a captive market reach to die for!), it hasn’t to-date done anything to convert more than a miniscule fraction of that theoretical audience into a real one. Whereas a still-independent WorkflowHQ would be forced to culture and cultivate its user community directly (their paychecks would depend on it!)—to value you not merely as customers but as fully-engaged partners in making their product a popular success.

As another End-User Programming developer remarked to me this week: We don’t really know how to do end user programming yet. However, that is to miss a point. Shortcuts doesn’t need to be a perfect complete EUP solution that gets all one billion iPhone users making their own workflows. Shortcuts only needs to get a few thousand dedicated workflow makers making workflows, which it already has, and supply the zero-friction channel for getting those workflows into the hands of millions of iPhone users, as part of those users’ normal daily Siri-using routine. [1] Apple already does this with App Store, for third-party Apps, and it’s all beautifully integrated into the iPhone user experience, everything available at a tap, everyone gaining benefits. So where the hell is Siri Store?

Why aren’t Apple doing this for Siri too, so that iPhone users can ask Siri to do something and, if it’s not a task Siri already knows how to do, it asks Siri Store for suggestions and presents those options to the user? And if none of those ideas fit, put out a request to the maker community, on its maker community site, to step in and fill that hole.

Siri as a product could be truly phenomenal, world-changing: a fully catered end-to-end service, connecting the relatively small number of people who make stuff to a billion users who could happily use it—if only they knew it exists, and solves their own problems at no extra effort to themselves. Just ask, Hey Siri…!

Would you kindly fix the omission already, @Apple

What Siri Shortcuts needs is a community-centered site+platform that brings its thousands of Makers together and provides the funnel for getting those makers’ works into the hands and phones of those billion users, as and when those users need and want them.

Without the coherent roadmap, without the concentration of user talent, without the focused outlet for all that talent, Shortcuts will remain just a scattering of power users puttering away in isolation, while Apple and the rest of its customers gain zero benefit from their work. Just one more of Apple’s neglected, forgotten, failed niche automation products.

All of this infrastructure could’ve been built and fully up and running by now too, done on less budget that slips down the back of Uncle Tim’s sofa in a day. Honestly, as an applied exercise in Product Management, Siri Shortcuts’ delivery is a right disgrace.

So what can we do next?

I wonder if anyone on the Shortcuts team at Apple ever puts their ears to the ground to listen to these user grumbles out in the wild. They really should: they’ll gain 100× more bug reports and ideas for improvement than they’ll ever receive waiting for users to obediently Radar report it. (This is how I got all my best feedback on appscript: complaining users are a treasure.) But us here discussing a fundamental Siri Shortcuts failing after 4 years(!) suggests they do not.

So if anyone here is also on Twitter, please you [2] can draw Ari Weinstein’s attention towards this thread? This discussion is highly relevant to his interests, and to the future health and growth of his product. And perhaps that will be enough to get some balls rolling.


TL;DR: Siri Shortcuts is a big ol’ pot of stone soup. And Apple, being the unimaginative indifferent lazy muppets they now are, are casually boiling the damn pot dry. Honestly, soup isn’t the only thing that needs a fire set under it right now.

[1] Please read chapter 6 Collaborative Work Practices, of Bonnie A Nardi’s ‎A Small Matter of Programming. It describes the three-layer structure—programmers, automators, users—that makes it work, and how these layers meshes to support, educate, and empower themselves and each other, in both directions.

[2] I no longer use the bird hellsite, and I don’t know Ari’s email so can’t reach him directly or tap him on LinkedIn. We did cross paths once before though—I think he was on a recruitment hunt at the time—so he will be slightly familiar with me and my work.


Totally agree. Trying to look for help with Numbers is even worse. Sorry I’m not helping, just joining in on the frustration. Good luck!

I tend to search for things here, on r/shortcuts etc, much like going straight to StackOverflow or GitHub. Otherwise, I use DuckDuckGo and prepend “Apple” to any of their vague, generic names.