Warning / Heads-up: in iOS 13.1, you cannot import shortcuts from .shortcuts files, ONLY iCloud links

I explain this more fully over on the MPU forum…

…but, long story short… I exported all of my shortcuts and then deleted 99% of them from the Shortcuts app, with the assumption that I could later import them from the Files.app on iOS if I want to get one back.

But in iOS 13 (at least as of 13.1) you cannot do that and will get an error:

You see the “chicken and the egg” problem that I now have: I can’t get them into iCloud links because they aren’t in Shortcuts.app, and I can’t get them into the Shortcuts.app because they aren’t iCloud links.

I confirmed this with Matthew Cassinelli on Twitter, who says the feature was removed during the beta cycle, presumably as security feature.

The error message makes it sound like the feature will come back someday, but who knows if or when that might happen. Could be iOS 14, or never.

If you have another device on iOS 12, you can still import them from the Files.app there. I was able to put iOS 12.4.1 on my iPhone XS (which is due to be traded-in to Apple but which I haven’t sent back yet) because Apple is still signing iOS 12.4.1, but I wouldn’t expect that to be true for very long.

Anyway, see the link above if you want the longer version of this story, but I just wanted to warn folks about this in case they did what I did, thinking what I thought.

Maybe this can help in your case: Latest Shortcuts Beta Allows You to Get Links to Shortcuts with Shortcuts!

on 13.1 you can totally import files, Get File, Get Link to File gives you an icloud Shortcut sharing link to the .shortcut file even if it’s external to the Shortcuts app.

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That’s creating the iCloud links. The issue was getting them imported from existing files rather than generating the links.

I’m sorry I haven’t looked in there again. I just had it in mind that it also worked for files not in Shortcuts. And I thought that this way he/she can generate the links to import them again.
But thanks for the heads up!

That’s very clever idea, but the iCloud link which is generated is not recognized by the Shortcuts app. I’m prompted to just save the file to my iCloud Drive.

Well works for other people on 13.1 so not sure why it isnt working for you.
EDIT : Actually one possibility is if you have your shortcut files saved as text plists, it only works for binary plist .shortcut files, but its easy to convert a text plist file into a binary one.

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It does work for files too.

Oh, you are a clever man.

They were indeed text files. Once I converted them to binary¹, it worked perfectly!

Thank you! This is a huge help!

¹ On a Mac, do

plutil -convert binary1 "/path/to/Your Filename Here.shortcut"

(Of course there’s a bit of a problem in that anyone who guesses the URL can get your shortcut, which would be bad if there’s private info in there, since there’s no way to delete an iCloud shortcut link, as far as I know. But it seems unlikely that someone will stumble upon your shortcut, given the length and randomness of the URLs. Still, I hope Apple will add the ability to delete the in the future.)

Wait. So importing binary plist shortcut files is possible?

Apple has already added that functionality, but I don’t know if it still exists. When you open a shortcuts iCloud link and it opens in Safari, scroll up and a bar appears that suggests to open that page in shortcuts. Now tap there on Open and it should open in shortcuts. In the top left corner there is a button to delete the link…

I’ve just tested it, but it doesn’t work anymore. Even on iOS 12…

Search for Stop Sharing in the Shortcuts changelog for Shortcuts 2.1

Wait. So importing binary plist shortcut files is possible?

Sort of in that you can generate a shortcuts icloud sharing link from a binary .shortcut file from an external (to Shortcuts app) source like a file on icloud in 13.1 and import from that link.

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If you have xcode installed you can also just open, save as Binary.

Regards privacy, if you setup any personal information eg password fields as Import questions they will be cleared before posting to icloud. Not ideal, but a good precaution.