13 Cool Android Shortcuts You Must Know

Last Updated: October 17, 2016

Gone are the days when Android was a clunky operating system. The platform has evolved to become an OS that not only looks good but performs equally well. The feature rich operating system is the most widely used mobile platform in the world and that’s not going to change anytime soon, with Google releasing massive updates like Nougat that only make it better. While Android is known to be swift in its actions, there are times when you feel a step is taking more time than it should. Well, in that case, you can use various native Android shortcuts or create your very own ones. Well, we are here to help you out with exactly that. Here are 13 Android shortcuts you must know:

1. Check your Notification History

Ever accidentally dismiss an important notification? Well, we have all been there. Thankfully, you can check all your previous notifications with a single tap. To do it, press hold on the homescreen and tap on “Widgets“. Scroll down below in the widgets page and add the “Settings” shortcut.

Android Settings Shortcut widget

Then, tap on “Notification log” in the list of various settings shortcuts available and a shortcut for Notifications Log will be created on the homescreen. Now, you can just tap on the shortcut to see all your notifications. Cool, right?

Android Notifications Log-compressed

Note: You might not find the ‘Settings widget’ among all the widgets on smartphones running custom Android skins.  For instance, on HTC smartphones running Sense UI, the Settings widget is buried in the “Shortcuts” tab. For more details, you can check out our article on how to check and recover notification history. 

2. Launch Camera with Power Button

There are times when you want to capture a photo quickly. However, the Camera app can be tough to launch in various situations. Well, Android 6.0 Marshmallow and later versions let you easily launch the Camera app from any screen or even when the device is locked by just a double press on the Power/Lock button. You just need to enable the option “Press power button twice for camera” in Settings->Display.

Android Shortcut double press power button for camera

3. Create Shortcuts for Direct Calls, Messages, Navigation and more

Want to call or text someone quickly or want to navigate home via just a tap? Well, Android natively lets you create shortcuts via the Widgets section to directly call or message a contact with a single tap. You can even set up a shortcut to navigate to a certain place via the Maps Navigate widget. Moreover, instant messenger apps like WhatsApp let you create shortcuts for a contact or a group chat, so that you can access them with a tap.

Android Shortcut direct call message-compressed

4. Create Shortcuts for Different Actions

Did you know that you can create shortcuts for almost any action in Android’s native functionality to even a third party app? Yes, you can do this via an app dubbed Activity Launcher. The app lists down every activity that’s available on Android. You can just press hold on an activity to create a shortcut of it on the homescreen. To give you an idea, you can create a shortcut for any deep Settings page, a shortcut to jump directly to Gmail’s compose screen or even a specific Gmail label, launch Google’s easter eggs game etc. So, check it out, play around with various activities and you might end up creating a cool personalized shortcut for yourself.

Android Shortcuts for activities

Also, if you have a third party launcher app like Nova or Apex, you can create shortcuts for activities with them natively.

Nova Launcher Activities shortcut

5. Try Google Now

Google’s voice assistant has been developed to help you get things done quickly, which in turn makes it one of the best Android shortcuts. You can use Google Now voice commands to ask a general query, control Android settings, launch apps, send messages, set alarm or reminder, take notes, make calls, navigate to a place, play music and more. And you can do all of that hands free, thanks to the “Ok Google” hotword. You need to make sure that “Ok Google” detection is active from any screen in Settings->Voice.

Android Shortcuts with Google Now

Also, you can use Google Now on Tap from anywhere to quickly set a reminder, alarm, timer or even navigate to your home or work address. Moreover, you can also search for points of interests like restaurants, hotels, gas stations etc. All of that by just pressing the home on-screen button. That’s definitely a cool Android shortcut, don’t you think?

Android Shortcuts with Now on Tap

6. Search for Apps Quickly

If you are someone who has a ton of apps installed, it can get tough to locate and launch a particular app quickly. While you can use Google Now to launch an app quickly, you cannot use a voice command at all situations. In that case, you can use Google search to quickly search for installed apps. You can use the Google widget to quickly search and launch apps.

Android Shortcuts search apps

Also, you can search for apps in the app drawer search bar in Google Now Launcher. Most other third party launchers also include an app search feature, so you should be able to search for app in most cases.

7. Switch Apps Faster

With all the horsepower Android smartphones pack these days, it’s important to make full use of it by running multiple apps at a time. While these apps should run like a charm, switching between them can be a real pain in the back. Well, that’s about to change, as Android Nougat lets you switch to the last app by just double tapping on the Recents/Multitasking button. If you are using a previous version of Android, you can check out our detailed article on the best ways and apps to switch apps quickly.

Easy App Switcher floating panel

8. Reply to Messages from Notification Center

While you can reply to SMSes, messages from other apps and emails from the notification center via a pop-up window, inline notifications are much more user friendly and fast. Well, the good news is, Android Nougat brings inline reply support for all types of messages. However, chances are, you are not using Nougat and you won’t be using it anytime soon. In that case, you can get this feature via a third party app dubbed quickReply.

quickReply like Android N

We have already talked about the “quick reply” feature in another post and you might want to check that out. Also, if you like to get smart reply suggestions right on the notification center, you can check out our article on how to get smart replies in notifications on Android.

9. Use Gestures

Rather than launching a certain app or activity through a tap, you can use a cool gesture shortcut from the homescreen. Apps like Nova Launcher and Apex Launcher bring the gestures option and you can enable gestures for various functions, shortcuts, apps and activities. If you don’t want a launcher app, you can try out the All in one gestures app, which not only lets you enable gestures for apps and actions, it also lets you add gestures for the navigation buttons, making things way more fast.

All in one gestures enable swipe

10. Take Screenshot Quickly

Another cool Android shortcut is taking screen captures quickly. While you can always use the Power/Lock + Volume Down combo, it’s not the most friendly solution for every situation. Well, another simple shortcut is to use Google Now on Tap. To take a screenshot, you can simply trigger Now on Tap by press holding the home button and then, hitting the share icon on the bottom left to upload the screenshot to Photos. Simple, right?

Google Now on Tap take screenshot

11. Unlock your phone faster

Unlocking your Android smartphone can take quite some time if you have a lock enabled (which you should) and that can be problematic when you are in a hurry. If your Android smartphone packs in a fingerprint scanner, you already unlock your device faster. However, if you have an Android smartphone which does not pack in a fingerprint scanner, you can still unlock your device faster, all thanks to Smart Lock. The feature is buried in Settings->Security and is only available to set up if you have a lock (PIN, Password or pattern) enabled on the lockscreen.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Smart Lock

With Smart Lock, you can set trusted devices (like a Chromebook or Android Wear smartwatch), places, faces and voices to automatically unlock your Android device when it is in a trusted vicinity. It also features on-body detection, which keeps the device unlocked when it’s in contact with your body.

12. Use Assistive Touch for Android

If you have an Android smartphone with physical navigation buttons, it can be a little tough to use them, especially if you are using a phablet. While iPhone offers “Assistive Touch”, which brings shortcuts to the hardware buttons right on your screen, Android does not offer such a solution natively. However, there are a number of third party apps like Button Savior, which bring the same functionality on Android. Also, we have already covered the different ways to control Android without any hardware buttons. You should definitely check it out, considering it certainly makes navigating the Android interface easier.

Button Savior on-screen buttons

13. Google Keyboard Shortcuts

If you own a smartphone that runs stock Android, chances are, you are using the official Google Keyboard. Well, the Google Keyboard packs in a number of cool shortcuts that you can use to boost your typing skills. Here are a few cool Google Keyboard shortcuts:

  • Capitalize Individual Letters

Generally, when we need to type a letter in capitals, we tend to hit the caps-lock key and then type the letter and then, hit the caps-lock key again to turn it off. Well, Google Keyboard has a much better solution for this. All you need to do is swipe from caps-lock button to the letter you want to capitalize.

Android Shortcuts Capitalize Individual Letters

  • Enter Number Fraction Quickly

Ever wanted to type fractions from your Android smartphone but could not find how to do it? Well, it’s simple, just press hold a number key and you should see its respective fractions that you can enter.

Android Shortcuts Enter Number Fraction Quickly

  • Access numbers and symbols quickly

Tapping the “?123” key to enter numbers and symbols isn’t very user friendly when you are typing fast but the good news is, there’s a cool Google Keyboard shortcut that lets you quickly enter a number or symbol. You can just press hold the symbols or ?123 key and drag it to a letter that corresponds to a number or symbol in the number & symbols page.

Android Shortcuts Access numbers and symbols quickly

SEE ALSO: 12 Android N Tricks and Hidden Features You Should Unlock

Ready to boost your speed with these cool Android Shortcuts?

We are pretty confident that the aforementioned Android shortcuts will help you do things on your Android smartphone just a tad faster. If you are aware of any other Android shortcut that you think deserves a mention on our list, do let us know in the comments section below.


Rupesh is an avid mobile geek and a movie lover. He loves to keep a tab on new gadgets and loves watching movies. Now a high time tech blogger here, along with a daytime engineering student. You might soon find him blogging about movies too!