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Apple Watch Ultra’s action button shortcuts offer endless customization

The Apple Watch Ultra has an Action button that can be programmed to perform one of seven actions, but the shortcuts offer seemingly endless options.

The Apple Watch Ultra has an Action button that can be configured to trigger one of seven different tasks with a single press, but hotkeys allow it to be used for a wider variety of actions. Apple Watch Ultra is the company’s attempt to create a more rugged smartwatch for extreme sports and serious athletes. Using the touchscreen can be tricky in some situations – like during a workout or in freezing weather – and the Action button gives the wearer more control in those situations. However, the number of actions that can be launched with the Action button is limited.


At first glance, it might seem that the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra can only be programmed to start a few tasks. In a way, it’s true. The Action button must be programmed during the initial setup process, but the function can be changed later. The different Action button options include Workout, Waypoint, Stopwatch, Backtrack, Dive, Flashlight, and Shortcut. There are different levels of customization for each option, but by far the choice with the most customization is the Shortcut action. Through the use of shortcuts, the Action button can be configured to perform seemingly endless tasks with a single press.

Related: Apple Watch Ultra – All the rugged specs and features, explained

Before programming Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button to run a shortcut, the paired iPhone must already have shortcuts configured. Shortcuts allow you to automatically execute a series of actions. These shortcuts can be triggered via Siri, an icon on the home screen, or via the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button. Users may already be familiar with Shortcuts, as they are used to create popular custom app icons introduced with iOS 14. Once Shortcuts are created, they can be activated by pressing the Action button on the Apple Watch Ultra .

Shortcuts Expand possible uses of the action button

To configure shortcuts on the Watch Ultra, go to Settings > Action button > Stock and select ‘Shortcut‘ in the list of options. To select the preferred shortcut, return to the ‘Action button‘ menu, touch ‘Shortcut,’ and select the desired shortcut from the list. The ability to trigger a shortcut with a single press of the Action button greatly expands the scope of its functionality. For example, a pre-installed startup shortcut is for the Shazam app. Programming the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button to run the Shazam shortcut will automatically identify a song currently playing in a user’s environment with a single click of the button.

Another common shortcut opens a particular app, which is especially useful on the Apple Watch Ultra. While Apple allows starting a workout in the Workouts app with the Action button, many people use other apps to track their activity. Runners may prefer Strava or Nike Run Club to track their runs instead of the native app. With Shortcuts, users can program the Action button to run a shortcut that opens their favorite workout app with a single press. Although there are only seven tasks that the Apple Watch Ultrait is The action button can start, there are endless possibilities when paired with the Shortcuts app.

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Source: Apple