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How to set up iOS Shortcuts for VPN

By GabrielleApril 17, 2023June 28th, 2023No Comments

tldr; Automatically connect to your VPN when and where you need it with VPN Tracker + iOS Shortcuts.

The iOS Shortcuts app can automate tedious everyday tasks and help you get stuff done faster:

Let's say you have an app that you use to access something on your network (e.g. a file server, camera or NAS), but you need to be connected to your VPN for it to work. With Shortcuts and VPN Tracker, you can connect to your VPN automatically whenever you launch the app. In this guide, we'll show you how!

What are iOS Shortcuts and where can I set them up?

iOS Shortcuts help you automate everyday tasks on your iPhone and iPad and can be set up and managed in the Shortcuts app.

iOS shortcuts app icon

You can choose from ready-made Shortcuts, or create your own for specific tasks (e.g. setting VPN.)

Use iOS Shortcuts to quickly connect to VPN

You can also create custom Automations telling your device to run a Shortcut or groups of Shortcuts, based on certain circumstances (e.g. time, date, location, Focus Mode, etc.)

Before you start: Set up VPN

To configure a VPN-Shortcut or automation, you first need to set up your VPN connection in VPN Tracker on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Download VPN Tracker from the App Store
  2. Create a free account
  3. Choose your gateway and follow the steps in the connection creator

Set up VPN Shortcuts

Once you have your VPN connection working, you can set up an iOS Shortcut.

Launch the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad, tap the + to create a new Shortcut, choose Add Action, then enter 'VPN' into the search bar to find the VPN Shortcut field:

Find the 'Set VPN' Shortcut Action


You will now see the setup view:

iOS Shortcuts setup view

Tap on the Connect field to choose an action for your VPN Shortcut (e.g. Connect):

Choose a Shortcut action

Then, tap on the VPN field to choose a VPN connection. Here you will see a list of all the VPN connections on your device:

Choose a VPN connection

Tap Done to save your new Shortcut.

You can run a Shortcut right inside the Shortcuts app, or add it to your home screen:

Tip: Tap and hold the Shortcut to customize the name and icon.

Set up VPN Automations

Now for the good bit: You can automatically run your "Connect to VPN" Shortcut, so it will connect when you need it.

To add a new Automation, switch to the middle tab of the Shortcuts app, and choose Create Personal Automation.

Set up VPN Shortcuts for Apps

You can set up VPN Automations for specific apps. This is useful when you're using an app which requires a VPN connection, as the Automation will simultaneously launch the app and connect to the correct VPN.

To get this set up, create a new Personal Automation and select App from the list.

Then, tap Choose to select an app (in this example, we are using a Network Camera app) and check to set the Automation to occur when the app Is Opened:

Tap Next, then tap Add Action and follow the steps described in the previous Automation example - making sure you choose the VPN connection this app needs. Your finished Automation configuration should look like this:

Tap Next and deselect the Ask Before Running option. Then, tap Done to save.

Set up VPN Shortcuts for Work Focus Mode

Work Focus Mode is a useful feature that allows you to set up custom rules for your iPhone / iPad while at work. This could include showing fewer notifications, restricting certain apps and limiting calls.

Use the Shortcuts app to automatically connect to VPN when your phone is in Work mode. This ensures your device is connected to your secure company VPN when carrying out work related activities.

Here's how it works:

Select Work Focus from the list of Automation variables and choose When Turning On:

In the next step, tap Add Action and choose Set VPN.

From the actions list, choose Set On Demand to On and then choose the VPN you want to automatically connect to (e.g. Work):

Next, use the search to add a second Set VPN action. This time, choose Connect and select the same VPN connection:

In the next view, deselect Ask Before Running and tap Done to save:

Test your new Automation by turning on Work Focus - your VPN should automatically connect:

VPN productivity hacks for iOS

There are many more use cases for combining iOS Shortcuts with the Set VPN action. For example, you can create a Shortcut to quickly disconnect VPN or set up an Automation to disconnect from work VPN when you deactivate Work Focus mode. The possibilities are endless!

Got a cool VPN hack? Share it with us in the comment section below!

Why VPN Tracker?

VPN Tracker is the best secure remote access solution for Mac, iPhone and iPad and is compatible with the most popular VPN gateways, including UniFi, NETGEAR, TP Link, Draytek, and many more.

Your VPN Tracker benefits

  • Securely connect with your home and office networks
  • Use your own gateway
  • Preconfigured profiles for 300+ VPN devices
  • Expert productivity features for teams
  • For Mac, iPhone, iPad
  • Explore all features
connect to IPsec vpn on iOS
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