Automation Gurus—a challenge

I have a challenge (actually a request for help) for the automation gurus in this forum.

I want Express VPN to automatically run, or at least launch on my iPad and iPhone, when I leave home. I already have Express VPN autoloading and running on my MBP all the time so that is not an issue. I worked for a while trying to figure out how to get Express VPN to launch automatically on iOS devices but I don’t believe it can be done. In fact, Express VPN doesn’t even show up as one of the available apps in shortcuts/automation.

I want Express VPN to launch upon leaving home because I constantly forget to activate it. I know I can create a location reminder in Reminders, which I will do, but I’d like to automate the process on my iPhone and iPad if it is possible.

Is way to “not trust” your mobile provider so it will launch automatically?

If Express VPN does not donate a shortcut for toggling then you can’t do it.

In lieu of actual auto launch options, I would create a shortcut that automatically adds a Due reminder to activate ExpressVPN whenever you leave the house.

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Not familiar, but can you leave it on all the time, whether home or not?

If Express VPN supports OpenVPN this might help:

(I use “VPN-On-Demand” for the (Open)VPN provided by my router at home)

I use Private Internet Access and they have the type of automation you want built-in to their settings. I am not sure if Express VPN have the same options as PIA. Below are some screenshots of the apps settings to better illustrate what I am trying to explain, as it is possible in PIA to switch the VPN on and off, based upon the network connection.

In the settings for PIA there is a section called ‘Network Management Tool’; this needs to be switched on. Just below this is an option to ‘Manage Automation’

Click on this brings up a list of networks that you have connected to (including your mobile network) and here you can tell the app if the VPN should be on or off. For example, I have my VPN off when connected to mobile data. If I alter this setting then every time I left my home WiFi network the VPN would activate.

At the moment I am on the WiFi network at school and we cannot use VPNs. If they are switched on then we cannot connect to anything. I have added the school WiFi as a trusted network so that the VPN stays switched off. As you can see from the screenshot below the VPN is disconnected (as I have trusted this network) and in the ‘Quick Settings’ section the icon for network management (the little green one shaped like a router) is lit up. This means that the VPN will not active unless I switch off network management or mark my current network as not trusted.

As I mentioned at the start of this message I do not use Express VPN. However, I am hoping that they might have similar options available in their settings. Until someone told me about the options for trusted networks in PIA I had not idea it was possible to automatically switch on the VPN when on iOS/iPadOS. Hopefully you will be able to find similar options in Express VPN.

Darran West

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Echoing @darranwest, there is a setting in Cloudflare’s service that lets you determine the app’s behavior based on your connection type.

Is there not a similar setting built into Express VPN?

You can have it launch on your iPhone via a location based automation like so:

But I have found no way for it to *activate *

No, ExpressVPN doesn’t support any automation as far as I can see.

If it would just launch that would be good enough but Express VPN doesn’t show up when I click apps on the shortcut.

As in @ChrisEdwards reply, if you use the Open App Shortcut action and then tap on the blue box, you can select any app on your device. Running the Shortcut will open the app to its default screen.

The Shortcut will not run automatically as location based Shortcuts give a tappable notification to confirm and run the Shortcut and also trying to open the app with the screen locked would not work anyway.

ExpressVPN does not appear in the list of apps available to Shortcuts as it does not interact with Shortcuts, however the Open App command can open any app (or I have not found one that it can’t!).

Hope this helps.

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@Tony @ChrisEdwards Now I see! I was not using the scripting option. I believe I now have it setup to launch. I’ll know tomorrow once I leave home for the office. Thanks!

Thanks everyone for the advice and help, much appreciated!

I don’t know Express VPN, but I do know that Encrypt.me¹ not only has an option to not trust your cellular connection (so it would automatically enable when you are not on Wi-Fi) but it also has automation for iOS and Mac OS (although the latter isn’t as easy as it could be, but at least it’s possible).

¹ formerly known as Cloak, which I still think was a better name, but nobody asked me.

@tjluoma thanks for the information. I’ve used the Express VPN service for many years and I’m happy with it. I plan to continue with them. That said, I appreciate your recommendation on a VPN service and those offered by others.

Makes sense. I get EncryptMe for “free” as part of my Eero-Plus subscription, so I’m not in the market, but others might be, so it’s good to have info available, especially when considering automation.

I’m surprised ExVPN doesn’t have a “Don’t trust your cell carrier” because no one should trust their cell carrier. Any VPN service should at least have the option. IMO.


I’m surprised the Enrypt.Me way of doing this isn’t the a widespread practice.

ExpressVPN doesn’t have an automatically enable option for untrusted networks.

I switched from to ExpressVPN and found this very frustrating, but not quite as frustrating as not working with several UK TV channels (I’m in Australia but still watch a lot of on demand tv from my homeland!).