Sending emails on a delayed schedule has become a routine for me. For a while now I’ve wanted to create something to mimic the experience with text messages. Between Shortcuts and DataJar, I’ve created a delayed-text system to plan texts up to a week in the future.

Each night, I get a notification reminding me which texts are scheduled to send out the next morning and each morning my texts automatically send out.

Configure DataJar

  1. Download Data Jar

    If you don’t have Data Jar, it’s free to download and use. Get Data Jar

  1. Create a dictionary.

    I created a dictionary called “delayed_texts”. Tap the plus icon, choose Dictionary, add “delayed_texts” in the Key field, and tap Save.

  1. Create seven internal dictionaries.

    Tap your new “delayed_texts” dictionary. Once inside, create seven dictionaries, named for the days of the week (capitalized). Tap Add Value, choose Dictionary, add “Sunday” in the Key field, and tap Save. Repeat for each day of the week.

Data Jar

Note: To plug-and-play my shortcuts below, you must name and organize everything exactly as I’ve mentioned above—capitalization, data structure, etc.

Download Shortcuts

I made three shortcuts. Download each and install them. If you’ve never installed someone’s shortcut, you’ll need to allow untrusted shortcuts first.

  1. Open the Settings App.
  2. Tap Shortcuts.
  3. Toggle on Allow Untrusted Shortcuts.
Shortcut settings

Then tap each of the three links below to open and install them.

Note: I’ve commented the Shortcuts, so you can follow the logic. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Shortcut 1: Plan Delayed Texts

Download Shortcut 1

I add this shortcut as a widget on my home screen so I can quickly tap it and plan a text. In short, it gathers information—the contact’s number, my message, and the day of the week to send the message—and adds it to DataJar.

Shortcut 2: Report Delayed Texts

Download Shortcut 2

The second shortcut sends me a report each evening. The notification includes any texts scheduled to go out the following day. I schedule mine each night at 9pm. With iOS 14, you can automate this process (more below).

Shortcut 3: Send Delayed Texts

Download Shortcut 3

The third shortcut looks in the current day’s dictionary within Data Jar, sends out any texts, and then clears the day for next week. I schedule mine to send out each morning at 8:01am.1 Once again, you can automate this process (more below).

Schedule Automated Shortcuts

To automate a Shortcut to run at a specific time:

  1. Open the Shortcuts App.
  2. Tap the Automations tab.
  3. Tap the Plus icon and choose Create Personal Automation.
  4. Choose Time of Day, set time and repeat parameters, and tap Next.
  5. Tap Add Action and find the Run Shortcut (you can search for it).
  6. Tap the blank field in the automation block and search for your Shortcut.
  7. Tap Next and deselect Ask Before Running. (You’ll have to confirm by tapping Don’t Ask.)

Your Shortcut will run at the selected time. If you have any trouble, check out Apple’s support article on creating automations.

  1. 8:01 is before I’ll see anyone I’d text and after a decent hour for most people to receive texts. Being 8:01 doesn’t make people suspect automation, I’d think. ↩︎