Shortcut Groups vs Hello Home Actions

This could all change in the future, but as of March 2015 there are a few functionality differences between Shortcut Groups and Hello Home Actions I thought it would be helpful to document. Please add more if you know of them.

All of the following apply to features of the standard mobile app, not custom code.

  1. Trigger after inaction on motion sensor: Available through SG, not available in HHA

  2. Turn off after a specified number of minutes available in SG, not HHA

  3. Trigger a light from a motion sensor you can do this in both, but they have different names. In a shortcut group, it is “turn on when there is motion.” In HHA, it is “turn on when things start happening” and for the HHA, it is only available if you are also changing the mode. The advantage of using in an HHA is that you can control events of different device classes all from the same motion trigger. So for example you could have a light turn on and music start playing.

  4. Trigger based on an offset from sunrise/sunset, such as 15 minutes before sunset: Both can trigger based on sunrise/sunset, but using an offset is only available through HHA, not SG

  5. Limit action to specific days, or specific time ranges Limiting to specific days is available in both, but only SG lets you limit the schedule to a specific time range, like 2 to 4 pm. (Although HHA don’t let you set a time range when creating a new Hello Home Action, for motion sensors they can be combined with the When Things Happen smartapp to limit the HHA to a specific time range. This is why some HHAs show a time range limit and some don’t.)

  6. Manual trigger: SG can be toggled on or off as a group through the lights and switches tile on the Dashboard, but otherwise depend on automatic scheduling set up through the Configure screen. HHA can be initiated at any time through the Speech Bubble at the top right of the Dashboard, and then using “Change Mode and More” at the bottom of the next page.

HHA can also be triggered from an iOS Notification Center widget, SG cannot.

If you have the Samsung S Gear smart watch, the official ST watch app can trigger HHA by voice.

  1. Group Members Members of a Shortcut Group have to all be of a similar device class. So you could group together several different lights and schedule them all to come on when a particular person arrived. But if you also want to have the front door unlock at the same time, you would have to set up a different Locks SG with its own schedule.

In contrast, one HHA groups together actions to be applied to specific devices, and both the actions and the device classes can vary. So an “I’m Home” HHA could turn on one light, turn off another, and unlock the door.

So an SG groups together specified devices of the same class to all do the same thing when a specific condition is met.

An HHA groups together a set of action requests to all occur at about the same time when a specific condition is met.

  1. Modes Both SG schedules and HHA schedules can be limited to specific modes. But an HHA can change the mode and an SG schedule cannot.

  2. Aeon Minimote The Aeon Minimote is a handheld “button controller” which has been verified to work with SmartThings. You can assign a button to trigger an HHA. You cannot assign an SG directly to a button, but you can get a group effect by assigning multiple individual devices to be controlled by the same Minimote button.

  3. For coders only: API Differences from @bravenel: " Hello Home phrases …have one API level feature, namely that you can get a list of them within an app, and launch one from within an app."


This was very helpful but I’m still having trouble trying to figure out how to set up a certain situation. I want to assign a button on my Minimote that triggers turning on some of my outdoor lights for five minutes and then turning them off. The situation being lighting the way for my friends to walk out to the car and drive away.

At other times I want my outdoor lights to be on until I turn them off so I don’t think a shortcut group would work. Hello home action turns them on at a button push but won’t turn them off. How can I do this? Thanks in advance.

A hello home action can be set up to turn off lights. And that hello home action could be associated to a button press on the button controller. You could have a button press of button one run a hello home action that turned on the outdoor lights, and a button hold on button one run a different hello home action that turned off those outdoor lights. So I’m not sure what is not working for you. What am I missing?

I don’t want to have to push the second button to turn them off. I want to press one that triggers a “light on for 5 minutes” scenario.

You can try the “Power Allowance” app.

If you are on iOS: on Dashboard, tap ‘+’, swipe left to ‘More’, select ‘Green Living’, scroll down to the fourth “Restrict the amount of time appliances …”.

Sorry, I misunderstood what you were asking for.

I know you can do a “turn off after X minutes” with a shortcut group, but I Haven’t tried assigning a shortcut group to a minimote button. @tgauchat do you know if this can be done?

To my knowledge, Community developers still have not been given access to Dashboard items, Shortcuts, nor “Solution SmartApps” (i.e., the SmartApps listed under the gear on Shortcuts).

The Community could avoid redundancy and integrate their own SmartApps more seamlessly if we had this special access, but I don’t know of any plans to give us this. It was removed from the Docs by @Jim a few months ago.

Perhaps we can workaround using Virtual Devices.