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The $12 Smart Home Hack Everyone Should Know About

Automating with NFC tags - woman looking at an NFC tag; woman using her phone to start an automation in her car

Automate Your Daily Routines With NFC Tags

If you’ve tapped your phone or credit card against a card reader to pay for something, you’ve already had experience with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Not only does this proximity-based technology make it quick and easy to pay for things, but it can help you save time around the house too!

That’s what I’ll be sharing with you in this post: how to use NFC technology in the form of NFC tags, along with your smartphone’s automations, to save yourself time and effort every day. Not only is the process fairly straightforward once you get the hang of it, but it’s surprisingly affordable too!

Automating with NFC tags - collage: placing an NFC tag near a tea kettle; placing an NFC tag on a nightstand

What Can You Automate With NFC Tags?

With NFC tags and smartphone automations, you can automate aspects of your daily routine to happen with a tap of your phone. You can do aspects of your daily routine, like starting a timer for your morning coffee, just by tapping your phone on a tag!

Here are a couple of examples of ways you can save time and effort with NFC tags:

  1. Set up a tag near your coffee maker that, when tapped, starts a three-minute timer.
  2. Set up a tag on your nightstand that, when tapped, turns on “Do Not Disturb” and turns off your smart lights.
  3. Set up a tag in your car that, when tapped, starts the latest episode of your favorite podcast.

Not only is this merely scratching the surface of the possibilities, but each of these examples is endlessly customizable too. So let’s dive in, starting with an overview of the basics.

The Basics

Automating with NFC tags -woman's hands with NFC tags

What Are NFC Tags?

When you tap your credit card or smartphone to pay for something, you’re utilizing near field communication (NFC) technology. This technology transmits information to or from your phone based on proximity, and there’s a lot more you can do with it than make purchases!

You can buy a 30-pack of NFC tags (also called NFC stickers) for just $12, and set up these small stickers around your house to automate routine tasks and save time!

Automating with NFC tags - woman holding up an iphone with Maps app open and an NFC tag in her other hand

What Are Shortcuts?

The Shortcuts app allows iPhone users to perform one or more tasks across multiple apps with a single tap of their phone screen. Normally, if you needed directions for your drive home, you would have to:

  • Open your maps app
  • Input your current location
  • Input your home address
  • Tap ‘Enter’

But if you had the Directions Home shortcut set up in your Shortcuts app, you could do all of those things in a single tap to save yourself some time and effort!

If you’re new to Shortcuts, I suggest checking out some of the ready-made shortcut options in the Gallery section of the app. You can also learn more about Shortcuts and how to create your own in the Shortcuts User Guide.

Automating with NFC tags - collage of three photos of iphone screen with different apps open

How To Use NFC Tags To Create Time-Saving Automations

Also located within the Shortcuts app are Automations. Automations are just shortcuts that are programmed to occur automatically in specific conditions, like at a certain time of day or when you’re in a specific location.

One of the specific conditions you can assign to trigger an automation is tapping a specific NFC tag. For instance, if you have smart lights like the Philips Hue system, you could set up an NFC tag by your front door that turns off all your smart lights when you tap it on your way out.

Here’s how to link an NFC tag to an automation:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app and tap Automations on the bottom toolbar.
  2. Tap “+” in the upper right corner, then select “Create Personal Automation.”
  3. Scroll down to “NFC” and select it.
  4. Tap on the word “scan”, and when prompted, tap your phone against an NFC tag.
  5. Name the tag. (You could name your tag based on where it is located or what is does — whatever makes more sense to you)
  6. Finally, tap “Add Action” and choose the action you want to trigger when scanning the tag. You can choose actions by app, or look for the Run Shortcut option to choose a shortcut you’ve already set up.
Automating with NFC tags - woman in a car with phone in her hand

When you’ve finished, you can simply tap the upper part of your phone on the tag to run that automation! Neat, right?

Need more information? PC Magazine has a great article on how to trigger Apple Shortcuts with NFC tags.

Android Users: You can still use NFC tags, but the process of setting them up will be a bit more complicated. Find everything you need to know at Android Authority.

Do you have any time-saving smartphone (or smart home) tips?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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