Your iPhone Can Automatically Wish Your Friends Happy Birthday
Who among us has never forgotten a friend or family member’s birthday? We all lead busy lives and it’s often all we can do to keep up with our own schedule of meetings, appointments, and deadlines. And even if you do fleetingly remember that it’s your father-in-law’s birthday while you’re in the middle of something else, the chances are good that you’ll forget about it again before you get the chance to text or call him. Your iPhone can help you with this, though—it can message them for you, ensuring you (appear to) never miss another birthday.
Apple doesn’t have a built-in feature for sending messages automatically, birthday-related or otherwise. Instead, we’ll be turning to the Shortcuts app’s powerful yet underused “automations” to make this work.
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How to automate birthday messages on your iPhone
To start, the automation relies on the details you provide in the Contacts app, so you’ll open that app and add birthdays to any contact you know you want to send an annual birthday message to. Next, open Shortcuts, then add the Birthday Today shortcut to the app. You can run the shortcut manually every day (if you think you’ll remember to), and it’ll automatically send a happy birthday message to the relevant people. To customize the birthday message, tap the three-dots in the top-right corner of this shortcut’s thumbnail. Look for the “Send” block, then edit the message inside. Tap Done when you’re ready.
Automate the birthday messages
If you don’t think you’ll remember to run it every day, you can also automate the process: Open the Shortcuts app, tap Automation at the bottom, tap the + icon in the top-right corner, and select Create Personal Automation.
Now, select Time of Day and set the time when you want to send the texts. If you want to be among the first to text each person, you could set it up for midnight. If you’d rather keep things more casual, set up the time for mid-morning or so. Under the Repeat section, make sure that you select Daily. This will force the automation to run once a day. Tap Next.
On the next page, select the Apps tab and search for Shortcuts, then tap Open Shortcuts. Tap the button next to Open, and select Birthday Today from the list of shortcuts. Tap Next once again.
On the final step, disable Ask Before Running and tap Done. That’s it! Your iPhone will automatically send birthday wishes to people in your contacts.
Keep reviewing your contacts
Of course, the problem with automating things is that you can end up contacting people you’d rather not talk to. Your automation can’t tell if a certain contact is your ex or someone you’ve gone no-contact with. That’s why you should periodically review and delete unwanted contacts, or just remove the birthday details of those you’d rather not contact. And although you largely will have added the birthday information for your contacts manually on your own, keep in mind that if someone shared a contact with you, they may have added the birthday and you might inadvertently send that person birthday wishes, too.
You might also want to consider periodically changing the birthday message you’re sending. A small tweak once a year will make it less obvious that you’re simply copy-pasting the same text over and over.
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