person in black jacket holding smartphone

Forgetting your iPhone in your car? Try this simple trick

Use the Shortcuts app to play a sound every time you unplug your phone from your car so that you can stop forgetting it.

We’ve all been there before. You need to make a phone call, or you want to pay for something with Apple Pay, and you reach for your phone but you’ve left it in the cupholder again. Not only is it an inconvenience, but now you’re probably hoping nobody’s peeking through your car window at that brand new, shiny iPhone 11 Pro you just bought.

iOS 13 and 14: Shortcuts App

Before 2017, the answer would have been: stop forgetting. But now, with the introduction of the Shortcuts app on every device running iOS, you need not worry.

Open the Shortcuts app on your phone, or re-install it from the App Store.

Automation: Play a sound when you disconnect charging

Good news! No prior scripting experience is required to get this working, so don’t be intimidated by the interface. It is Apple, after all, and simplicity is always in mind.

Unfortunately, automations cannot be shared, so they must be created manually. If this is your first time doing this, no worries, let me walk you through it.

Note: This method will only work if you either charge your phone while driving, or you use Apple CarPlay.

Set up the automation

Once you have opened the Shortcuts app, do the following:

  1. Tap “Automation” in the bottom navigation
  2. Press the circular, blue “+” icon in the top-right corner
  3. Press “Create Personal Automation”
  4. From the list presented, pick your trigger
    • CarPlay? Choose: CarPlay > Disconnects
    • Charge your phone in your car? Choose: Charger > Is Disconnected

Configure the actions

You are now presented with the Actions screen, which will let you choose what will occur once the automation is triggered.

Preview of how it should
look once finished
  1. Select “Add Action” button
  2. Search for “Set Volume” — choose the action
    • Modify the volume percentage by tapping the default value and adjusting the slider
  3. Search / add the “URL” action
  4. Tap the blue URL field, copy and paste, or manually type this:
    file:///System/Library/Audio/UISounds/sms-received6.caf
  5. Press the blue, centered “+” icon to add another
  6. Search / add the “Play Sound” action
  7. Press the blue play icon in the lower right toolbar to test your automation
  8. Select “Next” in the upper right corner
  9. Uncheck the “Ask Before Running” toggle switch at the bottom
  10. Press “Done” in the top corner to save

And that’s it! Your phone will now play a sound every time you disconnect your phone from your car. No more forgetting your phone… we hope.

Change the sound effect

If you would like to use a different sound, replace sms-received6.caf with one of the choices here.


July 28, 2020: There was an update made to this article mentioning to uncheck the “Ask Before Running” toggle for the automation.

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Grayson Adams
Systems and software engineer in Atlanta, GA, experienced in developing web applications and managing both physical and cloud-based infrastructure.

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