FAQ Routine, routines: How do you use them? (SmartThings Classic)

Thank you, the pictures answered all my questions. I could see that I could set a mode, I just hadn’t seen any place to leverage it. The pic that shows the routine should only be run if in (or NOT in actually) a particular mode illuminates it all.

I had read that article, I just still wasn’t seeing where to leverage the mode set

Now off to put together schedule version 1 with modes layered into my arming schedule (and then the Blink cams tied in after).

Thanks for your patience!

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No problem, I often say SmartThings is very powerful and flexible, but neither intuitive nor discoverable. Meaning if you just poke around in the mobile app you still won’t have any idea what you can actually do with it. :wink:

The fact that it works three separate ways as in the examples I gave above illuminates the issue.

Also, there’s no place where you can just go and pick a location.mode and see all the routine/smart app/smartlighting automations that it affects! You have to check each one individually. Most of us end up with a notebook or some digital equivalent just to keep track of our own rules.

I too have been using the wrong terminology in my posts so I will try to improve that. kjarrard’s question is the same one that I posted a couple of weeks ago.

SHM works together with the Security Configuration and the Notify Me When.Smartapp. If you delete the Security Configuration you lose SHM. SHM monitors only open/closed sensors and motion detectors. Nothing else that I can find. You can not turn on cameras (unless they use the Motion Detector device type), turn lights on/off or run Routines.

Notify Me When SmartApp’s only function is to Alert you with text messages and Intrusion Alerts when any of these sensor types that you have selected change state.

This is Smartthings dumb vision of security. There is no customization of SHM. So if you want to do any customization you have to use a Routine. But Routines can change the Armed State, but not the other way around. SHM will not run Routines. Therefore if you want any customization you have to arm/disarm your ST system with Routines thus Making SHM Armed/Disarmed buttons totally useless.

I have set up Widgets on my iPhone to run the routines I need so I no longer need to go into Smartthings.

I’m pretty sure you can work around this by using a virtual siren that also has the switch capability.

Once it has a switch capability you can use that to trigger a routine or a smart app.

I’m very tired right now, so hopefully someone else can walk you through this if that’s not enough information.

@tgauchat is an expert on capabilities in SmartThings so he might be able to say more.

Or I know there is an alert with lights feature, again, you might be able to do the same thing that way because a light is also a switch.

You would probably want to do this as a custom notification so that it doesn’t trigger anything else in SHM.

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Also, I’m pretty sure that core can subscribe to SHM alarm states and from there you can do almost anything that SmartThings can do. (The Scout integration is still limited to SHM itself.) But subscribing to SHM armed state is an undocumented feature, so it might go away sometime. The switch capability should always work.

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There’s no nice way to put this:

SHM was thrown together in order to have it ready in time for the launch of Hub V2 and App V2, both of which were “thrown together” in order to be ready in time for IFA Europe in September 2015 (Europe’s version of CES), where Samsung was the opening Keynote presenter.

Since then, the priority on SmartThings platform issues have drawn all focus away from non-core features; and for some reason, SHM is not considered a core feature. Of course, SHM won’t work if the platform is not stable and reliable, so perhaps that makes sense.

And, perhaps 2 or 3 SmartThings staff will chime in on this thread and disclaim everything I’ve said (or perhaps they won’t), but it doesn’t matter: Whether or not my description of “thrown together” is accurate or hyperbole, the fact is that it is weak and unreliable.

I highly recommend alternatives like CoRE rules or Smart Alarm.

And I am very confident that SHM will eventually “get it right”.

Thanks for replying @JDRoberts and @tgauchat,

Now that I understand what is going I am ok using widgets to arm/disarm my system. FOR NOW. But aside from their legal wording and disclaimers, the marketing team is giving the impression that Smartthings is a self monitoring security and home automation system with no monthly fee. If i look at the threads I believe that most of the newbies coming to this forum purchased the system with that premise. Home automation comes later.

Building a good security system (not even addressing the cloud problems and reliability issues with ST), relies on not only what happens inside your home, but also what is happening outside your home. The inability to customize what happens for each armed/disarmed state and only consider open/closed and motion sensors as security devices, IMHO is a major flaw in the system.

I believe ST lost its way and in order to get more market share ignored trying to build a solid monitoring system concentrated most of their resources in seeing how many new devices they could integrate with ST.

I both love and hate my ST system, but until the security side is rock solid I must recommend to potential customers to purchase a true security system first, then purchase ST as a backup toy.

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There are dozens of Forum threads which discuss both sides of whether or not SmartThings is appropriate for the function of home security. It certainly doesn’t meet traditional and certification standards requirements.

There’s also an equally large number of discussions as to whether or not SmartThings’s marketing is just a tad and typically hyperbolic, or slightly unethical, or… worse.

Whatever, right? SmartThings has good people making progress on this everyday.

Many of the critical among us are mostly concerned that customers who have don’t have their high expectations met now, might not ever come back. But then again, we’ve obviously been patient since we’re still here, so that’s a reason for optimism, right?

@tgauchat - “But then again, we’ve obviously been patient since we’re still here, so that’s a reason for optimism, right?”

Yes I’m still here hoping that the proper changes are made to the security side of ST to represent what they are advertising before it is too big to change. It may be too big to change already.
A year ago when I was researching DIY security systems, ST was all in the news and had rave reviews. It seemed that they had it all and were miles ahead of their competition. I ran out and purchased the system and totally spent about $1000 on it with more devices, so I am heavily invested.

I really want ST to succeed and that is why I joined this forum. I am trying to be the noisy wheel to get some grease to make ST a truly awesome system. I am also trying to warn potential customers that the system might not meet their expectations if they read all the media hype.

I have my doubts if a purely cloud based will ever succeed. My cellular system arms/disarms instantly and gives instant notifications.

Please, ST engineers, get the security side flawless before the system grows too big to make changes.

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Since this is an FAQ thread on Routines, please take discussion of other topics to other threads. Thanks! :sunglasses:

Yes, we did get off track a little bit with kjarrard’s post. Since there are so many questions about ST security all over the place I think we need a new category just for ST security.
Do I need it?
Does it integrate with other security systems?
How reliable is it?
Suggestions and uses

Do you know how to set up a new category, do you want to set up a new category, and do you have any suggestions you would like to add?

Only the admin’s can set up new categories, but you can just start a new thread or add to one of the many existing threads on security. Seriously, I think there are at already at least three or four on every one of the questions you listed, and probably more. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

But since there have been some new major new security features added in the last few months, in particular the integration with Scout, the ability to download video clips in SHM and the integration of the Arlo (official) and Blink (Community created) cameras, as well as the creation of CORE, I think it’s reasonable to start a new consolidation thread. A lot of things have changed since most of the other threads were started.

If you want one just on SHM, put it in the smartapps category and make sure you put SHM in the topic title.


If you want a general discussion of whether SmartThings is appropriate as a security system, and what features might need to be added to the platform, put it in the general topics category.


And if you want one to discuss best practices for what Devices, rules, and services should go into a security system based on existing SmartThings features, and find out what other people are currently using, including integration with other security systems, put it in projects.


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Hi all,

Im using 6 routines at present, the 4 standard ones Good Morning, Good Night, Goodbye and Im Back.

Ive created two other routines, one for my daughters Bed Time, and another called Evening.

These last two routines come on at a set time. The first being my daughters Bed Time routine which turns the Landing Lights on to 20% and then goes off at a preset time. Evening then comes on after daughters bed time routine and runs until Good Morning routine is activated at a preset time. The Evening routines controls the same landing lights but when motion is detected between 22:00 - Sunrise it will turn those lights on to 20% and then turn off if no motion after 1 minute.

Now the problem im facing is with the Im Back routine. With this routine it will set the house to disarm, and set the mode to HOME. Now if i come home between the routines Daughters Bed time and Evening - it will then change the mode to HOME and if i walk up stairs the landing lights will then turn on under motion but go to 100%.

With the MODES, can i select IM BACK to just disarm but not select a mode to be in? if i do that, will it keep the current mode i.e. Daughters Bed Time routine which also has its own mode, which will stop it changing those settings.

I have i totally not understood the routines/modes ideas and over complicated what im trying to achieve.

Really appreciate any help or feed back. Im finding certain routines totally unreliable and work around 65% of the time.


use CoRE

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it doesnt show in rule but i have the actions for evening only between sunset and sunrise. thats how great core is too

You could use core, but you don’t need to.

First, yes, if you don’t specify a mode to change to, then the routine just leaves the current mode unchanged. But most people would want an “I’m home” routine to change the mode to Home if the mode had previously been “away.”

Easiest way to do that is to set up two separate routines.

One does everything you want your arriving home to do, except it doesn’t change the mode. You can let it run in all modes.

Then have another one which is restricted to running only when the mode is away and have it change the mode to Home.

When you arrive home, if the previous mode is away, then both routines will run.

If the previous mode is anything else, only the first routine would run.

You might even want multiple versions of The first one, so that different things happen if you arrive home at different times of day.

But the main point is that a routine does not have to change the mode. And you can restrict what modes a routine runs in. And you can trigger multiple routines from the same event (you’re arriving home) and control which ones actually run based on the current mode. Put that all together, and you should be able to set up what you want. :sunglasses:

Hi JDRoberts,

Thanks for your reply. I Think i understand what you mean. So basically i set up two Im Back routines. one of them have set without any mode change, and the other setup as normal with Im Back to change mode to HOME.

Sorry for asking, but would it actually trigger both of these routines? Only reason im asking is because when you select Dashboard, then press top right button it will show the MODE its in. What will happen when both have triggered?

Thanks for your help

What triggers the “I’m back” routines? If it’s just your arrival, then both will run, no problem.

If you put mode restrictions on either of them, and the change in mode on one affects the other, then you might get a race condition and we’d have to look at adding a virtual timer on one of them.

But as we originally discussed, if it doesn’t have a mode restriction, then routine a won’t care if routine B has change the mode.

The mode that you see in the mobile app is just the current mode. By itself it doesn’t do anything – – you have to have selected the mode restrictions in the individual routine/smart apps before it affects that specific role.

The only thing that triggers the I’m back routine is the arrival of our mobile phones as they are the presence sensors.

So all I have to do is create the same routine called I’m back and have this one to have in the mode as blank?

And the other im back routine should have the mode as home?


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I am having issues with Routines that I have created and getting Alexa to recognize them. I can use the default routines, Good Morning, Good Night, Goodbye, and I’m Back by saying Alexa, turn on Good Morning and so on. Everything will work fine. I created a routine called Going to Work. If I say Alexa, turn on Going to Work, she will say "Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard.
Any Ideas?