In iOS 13, Shortcuts can ~ONLY~ be loaded from iCloud links, ~NOT~ from Files app

After watching @MacSparky’s Field Guide for iOS 13 Shortcuts, I decided that I was going to clean out my shortcuts and start fresh.

My rationale was that I could always add them back if I wanted to, so I exported 99% of them as individual .shortcut files in my iCloud Drive, and then deleted them from the Shortcuts app.

A few days pass…

I realize that I want to use one of the Shortcuts that I had. So I went to the files app, found the shortcut, and tapped it. opened and displayed this message:


Ok. Well… how do I do that if the .shortcut file isn’t already in the Shortcuts app?

I looked around for an answer, but didn’t find one, so I asked Matthew Cassinelli on Twitter who replied:

[Shortcuts files] can only be opened on iOS 12 devices unfortunately

By this point, 13.1 was out, and so my iPhone and iPad were already on iOS 13.1, of course.

I replied to Matthew:


That’s not funny, Matthew. Why would you even joke about something like that?

He explained:

No, I did the same thing this summer. People were creating them from scratch and it must’ve become a security risk moving inside the OS. I kept my old iPad on iOS 12 for this.

I really hope you can get your hands on another device for this

{lots of expletives deleted}

All of the older iOS devices in the house are used by other family members. Some of them were probably on iOS 12, but it would mean backing up one of those devices, putting my iCloud information into it, importing my Shortcuts again, and then restoring the backup to give it back to whoever it belonged to.

Fortunately I realized that I still have my iPhone XS because I am waiting for the trade-in box to arrive. It was on the iOS 13 betas, but (and this is important) since iOS 13 has just come out, Apple is still “signing” iOS 12, so I was able to find and download the official 12.4.1 ipsw file, put my iPhone XS in “DFU mode” and used iTunes to restore it using the ipsw file.

It worked.

But… here’s the rub…

As far as I know, there’s nowhere you can go and see all of the shortcuts that you’ve shared via iCloud links, which means that I’ll have to keep track of each URL and which shortcut it goes to.

That’s going to be a pain.

The error message makes it sound like we will be able to import shortcuts from files again someday … but that could be iOS 14 for all we know… or Apple could just decide they don’t want to support it at all and it never comes back.

In the meantime, I have to import all of the shortcuts that I might ever want to re-use, one by one, then share them, one by one, then make a note of the URL.

Matthew also said:

I have a blog post coming with a shortcut that actually scrapes the iCloud links for more data, it’s way easier to store. If you save all the URLs now you can run it through mine later

So I’ll look forward to that.

Aside: if you aren’t following Matthew on Twitter and YouTube, you should if you care about Shortcuts at all. He used to work with the Workflow team, and now does a bunch of videos showing how to use Shortcuts.

Anyway, I wanted to share this just in case others had done the same thing, expecting to be able to easily import your .shortcut files. Nope! You can’t. At least not right now.


In the meantime - if you save your shortcut(s) to an iCloud folder, you can use this shortcut to create an iCloud link to the Shortcut.file in your iCloud folder making it out possible to import shortcut through Safari

Hrm… I downloaded that shortcut to my iPad, and then tried to select one of the files in iCloud Drive, and it says that it copied the URL to the clipboard, but there’s nothing on the clipboard.

Would be great if it works, however!

Someone over on the Automators forum somehow figured out that if the .shortcut files are saved as text instead of binary then the “Get Link” would fail.

I have no idea how he knew that or figured it out, but it solved the problem for me.

@tjluoma Ugh…

On the bright side, the activity of getting links for shortcuts is now something you can automate. The only downer there is that you have to tap a confirmation dialog box for every saved shortcut. Imagine setting up an automation and then sitting down in front of Netflix to tap “OK” 300 times.


I’ve recreated the shortcut for that from @RosemaryOrchard’s description, and copied all links, but did not have to confirm all of them, just the first one.

I updated my blog post on this as it turns out the order of a list is static in Shortcuts (at least while the Shortcut is running), so you can get your shortcuts, get all the links, and then iterate through them matching up the names and links!


Hmm… weird, worked fine for me🤔
Will go through it step-by-step to troubleshoot

Thank you, @RosemaryOrchard!

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This is exactly what you need.