Shortwave AI Assistant

The Shortwave AI Assistant is an executive assistant built right into your inbox. The AI Assistant is available on all platforms and all plans, so you can supercharge your email productivity and save hours every week using the power of AI. Here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of it.

How the AI Assistant can help

The AI Assistant is more than just a tool; it's your partner in managing your email workflow efficiently. It's like having a personal assistant who knows your preferences inside out.

Here's what it can do for you:

Access the AI Assistant

No matter what device or platform you're on, the AI Assistant is easily accessible.

Web / Desktop

  • Use the shortcut Cmd+j ( Ctrl j on Windows)
  • Click the ✨ai button in the top right corner of the app
  • Click the ✨ai button at the bottom of the compose box to get draft suggestions
  • Click on a thread’s Instant Summary to get a more detailed overview
  • Select the option “Ask AI” from the search bar suggestions

iOS + Android

  • Use the “wave” gesture from any screen – a single quick swipe down, up, then back down again
  • Tap the Shortwave logo in the navigation menu
  • Tap the ✨ai button at the bottom of the compose box to get draft suggestions
  • Tap on a thread’s Instant Summary to get a more detailed overview
  • Tap the option “Ask AI” from the search bar suggestions

Personalize your AI Assistant

Head over to Settings > AI Assistant to fine-tune your experience. Add information about your role, enable AI Autocomplete, adjust language preferences, and configure other settings to ensure the Assistant is tailored to your needs.

When it comes to filling out these fields, the more specific you are, the better! Below is a quick rundown of each setting and examples of best practices when it comes to filling them out.

Your job & company

This field informs the AI Assistant of context including technical terms to use, relevant industry patterns, and modes of communication to follow.


  • The general format to follow is "<Your role> at <Company Name>"
  • You can also provide a very short description of what your company does to help the AI Assistant have a better understanding of your job function
  • Example: "Product Manager at Shortwave - an AI email productivity app"

Preferred language

Let the AI Assistant know what languages to respond in when answering questions or providing AI Autocomplete suggestions.

Note: this setting does not apply to the Assistant prompt suggestion or initial Instant Summaries, but clicking on an Instant Summary will expand and re-summarize the thread in your preferred language.


  • The general format to follow is "<Primary language>, <Secondary language>"
  • When filling out your preferred languages, be sure to write them in their native language / characters
  • When listing multiple languages, the first one listed will take precedence
  • If you interact with the Assistant in your secondary language(s), it will respond in the secondary language.
  • If you don't specify anything, the AI Assistant defaults to English
  • Example: "Español, 한국어, English"

Custom AI compose prompt

If you’re looking for additional control, you can now customize the prompts used by the AI assistant when writing emails. This is useful when you want to be explicit about exactly how it responds.


  • The general format to follow is a bulleted list "- Specific instruction 1 - Specific instruction 2 etc."
  • Short and precise instructions tend to work best
  • You can even instruct it to do things like always include your personal meeting link whenever it drafts a scheduling email for you, or to offer a specific promo code whenever a customer asks for a discount
  • Example:
    - Use clear, concise sentences
    - Start messages with “Hey < FIRST_NAME >,” and end with "Fern" after a new line
    - Meeting links:
    - Be empathetic, with a focus on problem-solving and user feedback
    - Use a conversational tone, addressing the recipient by name

Schedule & create calendar events

Not only can Shortwave manage your email, but it can also manage your Google Calendar. To create a new event, just tell the Assistant when and who you want added, and you're all set. If you haven’t already, you may be prompted to grant Google Calendar permissions in order to create events.

Note: scheduling and event creations is only based on your primary Google calendar for now.


  • The general format to follow when creating a calendar event is "Create an event on <date> at <time> for a <event reason> with <other attendees' emails>"
  • If you have an open thread, you can also simply tell the AI Assistant “Create an event based on this thread”
  • On web and Android, you can highlight any specific dates or times mentioned in an email, then tap ✨Schedule with AI to create a calendar event
  • For scheduling purposes, you can tell the AI Assistant to suggest times you’re available
  • If you have a calendar invite email open, you can ask the AI Assistant “am I free during this?” before accepting to avoid scheduling conflicts
  • Example: "Make an event for next Friday at 10am for a coffee with"

Get better Assistant answers by using effective prompts

To get the best answers from your AI Assistant, specificity is key. Set explicit instructions in Settings > AI Assistant > Custom AI, and craft precise questions to unlock the Assistant's full capabilities.

Here's how you can get started with some tailored examples:

  • Scheduling: "What times am I free next week for a meeting?"
  • Calendaring: “Add an event on 5/4 at 2pm for a launch brainstorm with
  • Drafting: "Reply with a proposed timeline for project X, be concise, and provide a bulleted list of milestones"
  • Data extraction: "Give me a bulleted list of the people Darius has introduced me to"
  • Content generation: “Search my email for recent product updates and create a blog post outline”
  • General research: "Explain dark matter and how it relates to the expansion of the universe”

Troubleshooting & feedback

While AIs are incredibly helpful for extracting important information quickly, they aren’t perfect. Occasionally, they can hallucinate and provide incorrect data or reply saying they’re unable to do something they actually can. These are known technical limitations across all AIs, but we have some tips for troubleshooting these issues if they appear.


  • If the Assistant says it can’t do something that it obviously can (like search your email), try following up by saying "Yes, you can do <task>" or try re-wording your instructions
  • For serious issues and errors, you can click “Provide feedback” via the AI Assistant and add a description of the problem to notify our support team


  1. How does the AI Assistant work on a technical level? Here is a deep-dive on how the AI Assistant is built

  2. Are my emails used to train any AI models and how is my data protected? No, your emails are not used in any training. Here are our AI security & privacy practices which explain how we protect your data and respect your privacy.

  3. Can I see past AI Assistant conversations? No, we do not yet support this ability. In the meantime, you can still access past prompts from an active session (meaning the AI Assistant hasn’t been cleared) by pressing the up / down arrow keys to cycle through previous things you sent.

  4. Why doesn’t the Assistant seem to understand the 50+ threads selected? AI multi-select only supports up to 50 threads at this time due to technical constraints. If more than 50 threads are selected, the AI Assistant will only look at the 50 most recent threads in the selection.

  5. Why can’t the AI Assistant identify important threads in my inbox (that need a reply)? The AI Assistant is designed to help with various tasks, but it currently does not have the capability to automatically identify important threads or things that need a reply. However, you can use features like stars and todos to prioritize emails that require your attention.

  6. Why does the AI Assistant show incorrect calendar availability? Right now, the AI Assistant can only check your default calendar associated with your Google account. If you have events on other calendars, we recommend adding them to your primary calendar as well for better scheduling accuracy.