How to use NFC tags in the iOS 13 Shortcuts app

Learn how to create an iOS shortcut that runs custom automations whenever your iOS device is close to an NFC tag.


Image: Apple, Inc.

NFC tags are small chips embedded into stickers or cards [maybe include why they’re embedded]; when an NFC reader is near an NFC tag, it detects the tag and reacts accordingly. This same technology is used in tap-to-pay credit cards, door locks that use tag-based entry, and more.

With iOS 13, you can use the Shortcuts app to program your own actions that run whenever your iPhone is in the vicinity of an NFC tag. You can use this for reminders for certain actions, home automation tasks, and more.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create an iOS Shortcut that runs an action whenever your device is close to an NFC tag.

SEE: 10 free alternatives to Microsoft Word and Excel (TechRepublic download)

How to set up the NFC tag trigger in iOS 13

The Apple Shortcuts app is already installed on your iOS 13 devices and is used to create custom automations for your iOS devices. With iOS 13, Apple added the ability to create custom automations using various triggers. One of the new triggers in the app is using NFC tags to trigger shortcuts when your device is near one of the tags. You’ll find this feature in the new Automation tab of the Shortcuts app.

  1. Create a new automation in the Automation tab.
  2. Select Create Personal Automation. 
  3. Select NFC (Figure A).
  4. Tap the Scan button, and place the tag near the top of your iPhone so it can read the tag.
  5. Name the tag in the text field that pops up after scanning.
  6. Tap Next to configure and set up the automations you wish to run when this tag is scanned.

Figure A 


Scanning an NFC tag is a requirement to finish the setup since it needs the unique identifier contained on the NFC chip.

Image: Cory Bohon / TechRepublic