How to quickly get directions to any address on your iPhone

Apple's taken a bunch of steps in the past few years to make it easier to find directions for any given address, including data detectors that intelligently make addresses tappable in Messages, Maps search suggestions in Safari, and more. But the system isn't perfect, and I often find myself executing far too many steps every time I want to get directions for a location — even more so if I want to use Google Maps.

Instead, I offer a simpler solution: Using Workflow (opens in new tab), you can quickly get directions to any address from your clipboard. Friend didn't format their address in a way iOS can parse? Don't want to go through the hassle of copying and pasting an address from one place to your Maps app of choice, waiting for directions to load, and so on? This fixes all that.

To use this trick, you'll have to have the Workflow (opens in new tab) app installed. Trust me: It's just $2 and will pay for itself a million times over.

The workflow itself is pretty simple: It gets the content of your clipboard, gets directions for that address, and opens it in the Maps app of your choice. (I have Google Maps selected.)

You can download my workflow from the Workflow website on your iOS device; after you do, here's how you can use it.

Option A: Use an action extension

By default, the workflow is set up as an option whenever you tap the Share button in a program. So, in Safari for instance, all you have to do is copy the address you want, tap the Share button, tap Run Workflow, and select the Open In Maps workflow.

Option B: Use a home screen web app

If you're using an app that doesn't have the share sheet — like Messages, for example — you can also add the workflow to your Home Screen, where you can launch it as a regular app. To do so, just follow these steps.

  1. Open the Workflow app, and under My Workflows, tap the Open in Maps workflow.
  2. Tap the Settings icon in the upper right corner.

  1. Tap Add to Home Screen.
  2. Choose the color and glyph you want to see on your home screen.
  3. After Workflow sends you to Safari, tap the Share icon.

  1. Tap the Add to Home Screen icon in the Extensions list.

You'll then have a home screen icon for that workflow that you can tap at any time after you've copied an address to have it run.

In short...

I really love this trick, and I've made a bunch more workflows to address similar tiny gaps in iOS's infrastructure. Anyone else played around with Workflow and made anything cool? Let us know in the comments.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

19 Comments
  • That IS a nice trick. I've added it to my list. Thanks! :) I wish there were a better resource out there for finding out peoples' workflows they have created. There is some pretty fancy stuff out there.
  • The workflow folks have set up unofficial shop on reddit at Http://www.reddit.com/r/workflow One of the (non workflow company) users there created a workflow to download workflows posted to that group. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well that was a time sink. Spent the last few hours of the night downloading, modifying, and sharing updated workflows. What an amazing app!
  • Very cool. Thanks! The next question is, does Apple buy this or Sherlock this?
  • I can totally see Apple letting us create our own action extensions. Sent from the iMore App
  • Filling "tiny gaps" - this is exactly the sort of thing that I love about Workflow. Another thing that I've always wanted is a download manager, i.e. a "Save" dialog for Safari, Mail, or whatever. I posted three very simple Workflows on my site to accomplish this. Couldn't believe how easy they were to make. http://teddysvoronos.com/2015/01/04/save-files-on-ios-with-workflow-2/ Hope someone finds it useful!
  • Ugh. Another huge caveat of iOS. I bricked my router with a bad DD-WRT image and had my SIM in my iPhone 5 at the time. Anyway, I tried to download the zip to my iPhone but Safari wouldn't let me download it. Then I tried to tether my iPhone to my Mac. Nothing happened. No internet. I had to change the SIM card and put it in my Nexus 5 to tether wired and download this particular package to my computer. In could have shared the connection via iPhone 5 but I wasn't happy. Anyway, I eventually sent an openwrt package to my router over tftp and it worked. iOS lost a huge amount of respect in my book after this.
  • This isn't really related to the topic at hand, but it's been known for years now that iOS is limited, especially on the filesystem side. You should be able to tether the iPhone though Sent from the iMore App
  • Or you can use "Directions" for Apple or Google Maps in Launch Centre Pro.
  • How did you create the Open In Maps workflow to get it to work like that? I've been trying and it'll open maps but not map out the address I selected/added to clipboard. Seems like a nice app, just trying to learn how it works.
  • The Get Directions module is the key point here; if you just use the Open in Maps command, it'll just plot your address on the map, not give you directions.
  • Hangouts automatically asks if I want to send my location when someone asks me, and if I'm sent an address it will allow me to easily navigate to it. There is also nothing easier than saying OK google from the lock screen, and saying "take me to x." I can have step by step directions in roughly 5 seconds. This is one thing that bothers me on my iPhone 5. I don't want to use Apple maps and siri is slow. Jailbreak should not be a requirement for what's available on a Nexus device out of the box.
  • Anyone know what kind of case is on the iPhone in the picture? Sent from the iMore App
  • Looking forward to finding that out as well! Looks sweet! #NameThatCase (: Sent from the iMore App
  • Visit this link in about 20 minutes. :) http://www.imore.com/spotlight-add-swatch-color-protection-case-scenarios-pantone-universe
  • Saw it. Thanks Serenity. Sent from the iMore App
  • Plus LOL. This function has been built into Android since gingerbread.
  • Well la-dee-da, I heard Android Lollipop just got actionable lock screen notifications...that function was built into iOS since iOS 6. :-)
    Each platform has pros and cons, no need to be a fanboy.
  • Why am I not seeing "run action" in the safari share sheet after following your steps to share an action extension ? Update: Got it now :)