With Apple’s Home app and the ecosystem of HomeKit accessories and sensors, you can build and control a robust network of smart lighting, remote switches, monitors for things like water leaks and locked doors, and cameras. But a seemingly simple task can seem unattainable until you take a different path.
After leaving our garage door in an alleyway open a few times recently – thankfully, with nothing stolen from it – we decided to add a door/window sensor. Although we have a traditional alarm system in our house, the garage door was not connected to it, and it would cost hundreds of service costs and parts to expand it. Instead, I bought an Eve Door & Window sensor. It is easy to install and compatible with HomeKit.
With the sensor in place, I (and all my family members) were able to configure Home to notify me every time the garage door was opened or closed. But what I was looking for was “negative knowledge”: information that had something not occurred. Every night at 9pm I wanted to be notified if and only if the door had been left open.
It makes sense to start in the Home app and use the automation view. However, automations within Home can only be scheduled on what Apple calls accessories: Devices that have a control or can take an action. They don’t work with sensors, or things that report a status. (Accessories are often linked to sensors, such as a light or motion sensor on a camera.)
l can create a home automation that says, “If the garage door opens, turn on the lights in the garage and start playing my grunge playlist at full volume.” I’m sure the neighbors would love that. I could also have opted for a HomeKit garage door opener kit, like this one from Meross, which offers both a sensor function (door open or close) and an accessory function (door open or close). So I could write an automation that said, “If it’s 9:00 PM and the garage door is open, close it.”
Inside Home, however, I can not make a sequence like “check the garage door sensor at 9pm and notify me if it’s open.”
The Shortcuts app seems like a more likely candidate, but at first glance it doesn’t seem to help either. It takes some digging to find a solution in there, one that only works with Shortcuts for iOS and iPadOS; the macOS version in Monterey does not contain the necessary components.
The Shortcuts app lets you create shortcuts from a template or from scratch, but you can’t start in the My Shortcuts view. Instead, navigate to the Automation view. Here’s how to create a shortcut to a scheduling component that works for a sensor:
In Shortcuts for iOS or iPadOS, tap the Automation button at the bottom.
Tap the + (plus) icon in the top right corner.
Tap Create personal automation. (This automation only works on this device, not your iCloud-linked devices.)
To elect Time of day.
Set your time and recurring parameters. I set 9 hours daily. Then tap Next one.
Tap Add action and build your shortcut here. You can search or drag shortcut items to configure them. See figure for the shortcut I made. (You can test by tapping the play button.)
When you’re done, tap Next one.
The last screen shows an example. Turn of Questions before you run to ensure that the shortcut is activated without your intervention. Confirm by tapping do not ask.
The new “Personal Automation” appears under the Personal label in the Automation view on the device you’re setting it up on.
Thanks to Jeremy for his help navigating the Shortcuts app and finding this solution!
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