iOS Emergency Shortcut



Disclaimer: The built-in iOS “Emergency” functionality is 100x more likely to actually work when you need it to. At best, this shortcut can remove the stressful experience of having to TYPE a message while you’re stressed. It does not replace the need to call the police/ambulance/fire people if you are in danger.

iOS has built-in SOS functionality. Depending on your phone model[note]iPhone 7 and older: press “home” button 5 times
iPhone 8 and newer: Hold “home” + “volume up”[/note] you press a button, it dials emergency services, and then it contacts the emergency contacts that you’ve set up in the Health app.

If you live in a country where emergency services are… not likely to show up and check up on you faster than your emergency contacts, here’s an iOS shortcut for you.

Read the installation instructions below, then tap here and get the shortcut. I’ll share the link again at the end of the post.

If you’ve used Shortcuts before, you can skip straight to Step 4.

Installing SOS iOS Shortcut

There are some things you’ll have to allow before you can run the shortcut. It’s important that you do this before you install the shortcut. A video demo/walk-throguh is available at the end of this post.

1. Install Shortcuts App

Can’t run this without the actual app. Get it here:

2. Run a Shortcut

Go to the shortcut gallery and pick any random shortcut to add to your library. Run it. Any shortcut will do. You need this to enable the next step.

3. Allow Third-Party Shortcuts

After the app is installed, go to: Settings -> Shortcuts -> Set “Allow Untrusted Shortcuts” to “on”. You’ll need to put in your iPhone password. 

4. Install the shortcut

Once again, here is the link. Scroll to the bottom and hit “Install Untrusted Shortcut”.

5. Pick the Contacts

You will be prompted to pick your emergency contacts from your contact list. Do that.

6. Choose your emergency message

You will be prompted to add your own emergency message to the shortcut.

7. Do a “Test Run”

Go to your Shortcuts library (bottom right of your screen). 

Run the “SOS” shortcut by pressing on it (the actual box, not the three little dots).

This will not result in an emergency message to be sent to the contacts you chose[note]yet[/note].
It will ask you to allow it to know your location. Click “While using the app”. If you click “Allow Once” you will need to allow location access every time you run the shortcut, which is +1 button press that you don’t want to be messing around with in an emergency.

Then click OK in the following popup.

After this, the shortcut will run for the first time. It will determine your location and then turn it into a clickable Google Maps link that your emergency contacts (which you selected earlier) will receive along with our emergency message (which you wrote earlier). 

Check that the message is worded the way you like. Copy+Paste the link into your web browser to check that your location is displayed (more or less[note]One of the biggest drawbacks of this shortcut is how long it takes to get your location and how accurate that location is. It works slightly better (but not faster)if your wifi is on.[/note] correctly

Instead of hitting send on the message,

8. Cancel!

Cancel the message from being sent. You don’t want to make your emergency contacts worry for no reason.

9. Enable Auto-Send

Now, press the three dots on your shortcut. This will open up a long list of “actions” that make up the shortcut. Scroll all the way to the bottom.

Click “Show More” on the last step and turn “Show When Run” to “off” (as shown in the screenshot below). This will make messages auto-send, without asking you to confirm.

10. Add it to your Home Screen

Scroll to the top of all the shortcut actions. Press the three dots in the top right of the screen. Here you can give the shortcut a different symbol and/or name. But the main thing we’re here for is the “Add to Home Screen” button. Press it, add the shortcut to your home screen (somewhere it’s easy to access). You’re done.

At this point it would be good to message your emergency contacts and let them know that they’re your emergency contacts. Send them a test message, so they know what it looks like.


If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you can use the back-tap functionality to quickly run the shortcut. BIG WARNING though, it’s *extremely* likely that you’ll run the shortcut accidentally and make all your emergency contacts worry, so I don’t really recommend doing this. But the option is there if you want it.