Documentation

Your guide to everything Workflow.

Using workflows from the Today Widget

The Today Widget is the fastest possible way to run your workflows, giving you easy access to them from the lock screen, home screen, or while you’re inside any app by pulling down Notification Center. You can choose which workflows should show in the widget to customize it to your liking.

One of the major benefits of the Today Widget is that many workflows are able to run without opening the Workflow app. Menus, alerts, and number pads appear inline so you can swiftly interact with your workflow. Widget workflows can also be used to open other apps or URLs.

Just swipe into your list of widgets and tap a workflow to run it. The workflow will show a progress bar that fills out as it advances. If you wish to halt the workflow, tap the stop button. Otherwise, a checkmark will appear briefly when the workflow completes, and you can continue on with what you were doing previously.

If a workflow has an action that can’t run in the widget, the workflow will run until that point and then automatically switch to the Workflow app to finish. We’ll cover what types of workflows work well in the Today Widget and actions that may require continuing in the app.

Accessing the Today Widget

There are four ways to access the Workflow Today Widget:

  • By pressing firmly on the Workflow app icon (using 3D Touch, on iPhone 6s and newer),
  • By swiping left on the Lock Screen to your widgets,
  • By swiping left to the first page of the Home Screen and viewing your widgets,
  • Or by pulling down Notification Center from the top of the screen and swiping left to your widgets.

By default, the Workflow Today Widget will not be present in your list of widgets – you’ll need to enable it manually.

Note

On iOS 9 and earlier, the widget can only be accessed inside Notification Center by pulling down from the top of the screen and swiping left to the “Today” section.

Enabling the Workflow Today Widget

To add the Workflow Today Widget to your list of widgets, follow these instructions.

On iOS 10 and later:

  • Press firmly on the Workflow app icon.
  • When the widget appears, tap the “Add Widget” button in the upper right corner.

On iOS 9 and earlier:

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal Notification Center.
  • Swipe left to view your widgets.
  • Scroll down to the bottom and tap “Edit”.
  • Tap + next to Workflow to add the Workflow Today Widget.
  • Tap “Done”.

Setting a workflow’s type to Today Widget

In order to have your workflows show up in the Today Widget, they’ll need to have the Today Widget type enabled.

You can change a workflow’s type by opening it from My Workflows, tapping on the settings button in the upper right corner, and navigating to the section entitled “What type of workflow is this?”. Tap “Today Widget” to enable that type on the workflow.

When creating a new workflow, you can quickly set the type of workflow you want to build. Select “Today Widget” to indicate the workflow you’re building is intended to be run from the widget.

Pro Tip

Workflows can be set to multiple types. A single workflow can be an Action Extension, Today Widget, and Apple Watch workflow if you so choose.

To manage all of your Today Widget workflows at once, see Organizing your workflows.

Due to space constraints, the Today Widget can only fit a certain number of workflows depending on where it’s accessed.

  • If you 3D Touch on the Workflow app icon, only the top four workflows will be displayed.
  • From the Home Screen, Lock Screen, or Notification Center, the widget will show as many workflows as it can fit on screen. Tap “Show More” on the upper right corner of the widget to expand it and give it some more room, or tap “Show Less” to collapse it.

The ordering of workflows inside the Today Widget follows the ordering of your workflows inside the app. Move workflows that you use most frequently to the top of the list so they’ll appear in the widget. Only workflows with the Today Widget type enabled show up in the widget.

What works well in the Today Widget

Ask for Input

Use the Ask for Input action to enter numbers in the Today Widget. For example, you could use Ask for Input with the Log Health Sample action to create a widget workflow for logging your weight. When run, the workflow will show a number pad in the widget for typing in your weight.

To use this functionality, add an Ask for Input action to your workflow and set the “Input Type” to Number.

Clipboard

Widget workflows can be handy for acting on content you’ve copied to the clipboard. When apps don’t provide the ability to share, you can copy what you want to the clipboard, and then run a Today Widget workflow to process the content or send it somewhere else. You can grab the contents of your clipboard in Workflow using the Get Clipboard action.

For example, with a workflow like Save Notes to Dropbox you could copy information out of a document and run a workflow from the Today Widget multiple times to capture it all from the clipboard. The workflow could send off each piece of copied information and append it to a Dropbox file, ready to review once you’re done.

Choose from List, Choose from Menu

Two actions that are particularly useful in the Today Widget are Choose from List and Choose from Menu, both of which let you select from a list of options. Right from the widget, you can make choices that change how the workflow operates.

For example, you could set up a workflow with a list of your favorite albums and use Choose from List to select one to play. When the workflow is run, you can pick which album you want to hear using a compact menu design right from the widget.

More involved workflows might use the Choose from Menu action, which can branch the workflow and run different a series of actions based on which option is chosen when the workflow runs.

Learn more in Using Choose from List and Using Choose from Menu.

Show Alert

Using the Show Alert action, you can set up workflows that display messages in the Today Widget or ask for confirmation. When a workflow reaches an alert, it will display a message along with an “OK” button and optionally a “Cancel” button. If the “Cancel” button is pressed, the workflow will stop running at that point.

What doesn’t work in the Today Widget

Not all actions can complete their tasks within the Today Widget. Workflow will progress through all the actions it can run in the Today Widget until it needs to launch the app to finish the rest.

Actions that show a user interface or involve filling out fields will not work in the Today Widget. Due to these limitations, certain types of workflows can’t run entirely in the widget and will pop back into the app. This includes workflows that:

  • Preview content using Quick Look,
  • Ask you to enter text,
  • Ask you to pick dates,
  • Use the camera or microphone,
  • Ask you to select photos, music, or contacts,
  • Use the Ask When Run variable,
  • Have actions with a “Show Compose Sheet” or “Show File Picker” option turned on,
  • Change the screen brightness,
  • and more.

Additionally, some tasks are too memory-intensive for the Today Widget, as limited by iOS. Workflows dealing with high volumes of content or large file sizes may need to open in Workflow to finish.

Note

If you’re experiencing issues where running a workflow crashes the Today Widget and displays the message “Unable to Load”, the widget is running out of memory. You can force workflows to switch from the widget to the app by placing a Continue In App action somewhere in your workflow. This action will open the app and finish the remainder of the workflow from that point.


Once you’ve added a few Today Widget workflows, it may take some time to test them out and see which are most useful in your regular usage of your iPhone or iPad.

  • Perhaps you often come across links you want to save in apps that don’t have a share sheet – a Save To Instapaper workflow set up to grab the clipboard would be handy to keep in the widget.
  • If you have multiple paths to choose from on your commute every day, a shortcut to get directions via Apple Maps could be handy to keep in the Today Widget.
  • Maybe you want to keep an Open Bookmark workflow in the widget so you can quickly jump to your favorite websites when you have a moment to spare.
  • Or, you might have a Log Water workflow near the top, so you can quickly add data to the Health app throughout the day.

Soon, you’ll be running workflows from the Today Widget like it’s second nature.


Let’s move on to Using workflows from the Action Extension. Or, jump ahead to Using workflows from Apple Watch.