Photo: Framesira (Shutterstock)
Android’s home screen is immensely customizable. While users mostly focus on icon packs, widgets, and launchers, one small, incredibly useful feature often flies under the radar: your ability to add shortcuts right to the home screen.
Android introduced the concept of actionable shortcuts years ago, and many popular apps have embraced it. Those are the options you see when you press and hold an app icon on the home screen. For example, a long-press on the icon for the Notes app might show you an option to create a new voice note, while Spotify lets you start a search without actually opening the app.
While these shortcuts are handy, it’s even better to directly add them to the home screen, giving you even quicker access to your favorites actions (much faster than a tap and hold).
How to add app shortcuts to the Android home screen
Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak
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App shortcuts are launcher agnostic. As long as you use a modern Android smartphone, they will work. First, find the app with a frequently used shortcut and press and hold the app icon. You’ll see three shortcuts options appear. Press and hold a shortcut, drag anywhere on the home screen and lift your finger. That’s it: You have just turned a shortcut into a home screen icon.
The best app shortcuts you should try on Android
Now that you know how it works, you’ll want more (and there are quite a lot of them, actually). You can even have a home screen dedicated to just shortcuts, if that’s your thing. Here’s a quick list of recommendations to get you started.
Phone: Your “frequently used” and “favorite” contacts can be added to the home screen using a quick shortcut.
Google Keep: A quick shortcut for adding a new note works well. This shortcut can work for third-party apps, or the default Notes app on your phone as well.
Google Maps: A shortcut for navigating to home or work is likely useful to frequent commuters.
YouTube: Use a shortcut to directly jump to the Subscriptions tab on YouTube, ignoring all the recommended stuff.
Spotify: Jump directly to your favorite playlist, or your liked songs list using a shortcut.
Camera: Take a selfie with a dedicated shortcut.
Chrome: Use a shortcut to start a new tab or an Incognito browsing session.
There’s a lot more to try
These shortcuts are integrated into all sorts of messaging and productivity apps. If you use an app often, check what shortcuts are available (all it takes, of course, is a tap and hold action on the app icon). If you find something you do often, add it to the home screen, and use it as needed.
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