There’s no denying that Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. What makes it so popular is its ease of use and flexibility of customization. Apart from dipping your feet in the all-encompassing currents of customization, you can use a bunch of cool Android shortcuts to speed up your work and achieve more productivity (or even access entertainment faster). If you’ve landed here, chances that you’re an Android user are high, and this article will apprise of some easy and seamless shortcuts that will let you make the most out of your smartphone experience. Here are 12 cool Android shortcuts that every Android user should 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.
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?
Note: You might not find the ‘Settings widget‘ among all the widgets on smartphones running custom Android skins. For instance, on Samsung smartphones running Samsung Experience or the new One 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. Moreover, some skins including Huawei’s EMUI might not show you the option to access notification log but you can download an app – Notification History Log (free) – to access it.
2. 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.
3. Use Google Assistant
Google Assistant, as the name suggests, is designed to assist you to perform tasks with great ease and make your Android experience much more convenient. Having evolved out of Google Now – the voice-based search and actions application, Google Assistant is also centered around voice interactions and uses machine learning to get better every time you give it the opportunity to serve you. Google Assistant can perform your odd jobs like setting an alarm or a reminder on your behalf, informing you about the weather, reading the news out, and even helps you play games.
Google Assistant’s capabilities extend further than mere shortcuts and can even come in handy when you’re traveling abroad or interacting with people of origin different from yours. On one hand, Assistant can understand tons of languages, including different accents, you can also use it to translate conversations in real-time so you don’t need an interpreter. And there’s much more which you can learn about in our list of 15 Cool Google Assistant Tricks You Should Try.
4. Reply to Messages from Notification Center
With Android Nougat, Google added support for a quick reply feature which allows you to reply to new messages or chats directly from the notifications panel. While Nougat is history now, the feature has evolved quite a bit with variations per app. For instance, in chat apps like WhatsApp, Google Allo, and Telegram etc., you can reply directly from the status bar, while in others like Gmail, the reply button take you directly into the Compose window where you can type a reply to the received email.
Besides replying, each app gives the feature a unique spin. As you can see in the screenshot above, you can archive emails in Gmail, mark messages as read in WhatsApp and Telegram, or even use the Smart Replies in Allo. If you want to set automated replies in response to particular messages, you can use the app called AutoNotification (free) to save some time while dismissing useless notifications and add more quality to the meaningful conversations.
5. Take Screenshot Quickly
All versions of Android support the universal gesture of pressing down the Power and Volume Down buttons together for a screenshot. But with the launch of Android Pie, Google has made it easier and now all you need to do is long-press on the Power button and then tap on the Screenshot option (even though the older shortcut still works). If you want a screenshot without using hands, you can simply ask Google Assistant to take a screenshot of the current screen you’re in by saying “Okay, Google” or “Hey, Google” followed by “Take a screenshot“.
Some skinned versions of Android including Xiaomi’s MIUI and OnePlus’ Oxygen OS also support swipe gestures for a screenshot. To take a screenshot in either of the two, you can swipe three fingers downwards from the top of the screen.
6. Use Assistive Touch for Android
Compared to hardware buttons, software buttons can be really handy because you can change their position or move them around as per your ease, and even cut your dependence on malfunctioning (if any) hardware buttons. While iOS has the Assistive Touch inbuilt, stock Android has no such option. To bypass that, you can download a free app called Assistive Touch – Quick Ball (free) which lets you choose a custom layout of buttons. Besides customizing the buttons, you can personalize the default icon for Assistive Touch or set tap gestures which trigger actions like opening the Recents menu.
Alternatively, if you want simpler controls, you can download Navigation Bar – Anywhere (free) which gives you a floating navigation bar, which can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation. You can also assign action to long-presses on either of the three buttons. Alternatively, the navigation bar can also be useful for Pixel 3 users who might have been locked out with the new Android Pie navigation system with sliding navigations.
7. Gboard Shortcuts
Gboard, or the official keyboard by Google, has several tricks up its sleeve including some quick shortcuts which Android users can use to type faster. Let’s take a look at some of these cool Gboard shortcuts that you can use:
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, Gboard has a much better solution for this. All you need to do is swipe across the keyboard from the caps-lock button to the letter which you want to capitalize. Like iOS, you can also hold the Caps button while tapping on the specific letter.
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.
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.
Swipe over spacebar to move the cursor
Gboard also features a nifty feature which lets you easily move the typing cursor more precisely. You can just drag your finger over the spacebar in Gboard to move the cursor in the corresponding direction. Moreover, if you want to enjoy using the traditional method of moving the cursor, Android Pie added an iOS-style magnifier which helps you drag the cursor more effectively.
8. Use Status Bar to Open Clock App
Whether it is to know the time at a different location or just to set or modify an alarm, you can simply expand the notifications shade and tap on the current time to launch the Clock app. You can also launch the Calendar by tapping on the date. That’s a simple trick which will save you from the unnecessary labor of opening the app drawer in order to open the clock app.
9. Use Status Bar to Open Battery Settings
Just like launching the Clock, you can also access battery settings by pulling down the notifications shade and tapping on the battery percentage. This can come in handy to quickly head over into the battery settings on your phone and take a look at your phone’s battery usage.
10. Use 3-Dot Button Menu Without Tapping
Most Android apps come with 3-dot buttons which open up new menus with additional options. While the 3-dot menu is the go-to means to access these additional settings, you need not tap on it to access the options inside the menu. In contrast, you can simply drag your finger downwards while pressing on the button and release your finger when you reach the desired option. This might take some time getting used to but it can help you save time significantly within the apps that you’re familiar with.
11. Snooze Notifications
If you’re busy – say, in the middle of a meeting – and want to save a particular notification for later, without skipping or dismissing it, you can easily snooze notifications in Android Oreo and upwards. Slowly drag the notification sideways (swiping too fast can dismiss the notification) and tap on the clock-shaped icon. Then, choose the time after which you wish to be notified again. The feature saves you from forgetting crucial notifications after dismissing them and also helps you get rid of the intrusive persistent notifications – at least, temporarily.
12. Mute Quickly
While the options to toggle your phone between ringing and silent is available in the quick setting shortcuts for Android smartphones, Google introduced a faster way of turning your device to the silent mode in Android Pie. You can press the Power and Volume Up buttons together to toggle between the Ringer on and off modes.
Moreover, while most modern smartphones allow you to silence a call by flipping the phone, Google has introduced a new feature called “Flip to Shhh” which silences the phone when it is facing downwards – although it is limited to Pixel 3 and 3XL right now. If you want the feature on any other smartphone, you can use the unofficial app, Flip to Shhh (free) to emulate the effect and to assign actions when the phone is facing upwards or downwards.
Ready to boost your speed with these cool Android Shortcuts?
These Android shortcuts will increase the speed with which you can engage with your Android device and thus, enrich your overall Android experience. After you get familiar with these shortcuts, you can also share them with your friends and family members to help them get most out of their Android smartphone.
Do you use other Android shortcuts to improve your utility and productivity? Let us know in the comments below.