A secret Android shortcut | World of computers

Did I ever mention how much I love shortcuts?

Okay, maybe I did. (Maybe, ahem, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,942 times, come to think of it.) But oh, that’s true. There’s just something so incredibly satisfying about knowing you’re boosting your efficiency and cutting soul-sucking seconds out of your day.

And on Android, whoo boy, we have some awesome opportunities to cut steps and reach Mega-Nerd™ levels of obsession with efficiency.

Today, as your friendly neighborhood Mega-Nerd™, I want to remind you of an easily overlooked option to add some extra step-shaving shortcuts right on your home screen. These shortcuts are buried deep in some of Android’s more productivity-oriented apps. And you’d have to be… well, an efficiency-obsessed Mega-Nerd™ to realize they’re there.

My friend, get ready to reach Mega-Nerd™ status.

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Android’s hidden shortcut wizardry

So here’s what’s especially cool about the Android shortcuts we’re talking about: they are Almost identical in form to the standard Android app shortcut system – you know, that thing where you can press and hold any app icon on your home screen to reveal a series of direct shortcuts to specific functions within the app – only with these, you really have to go out of your way to find them.

Those standard Android app shortcuts are spectacular and similarly all too easy to forget. (I have a primer and a bunch of specific tips here, if I could do with an update.) But the ones we’re talking about today are even more mysterious.

With specific Android apps, you see, you can create your own custom shortcuts for individual items within the app from within the app itself.

This might be the most confusing sentence I’ve ever written, I realize. But it’s a difficult concept to convey without just going through a real-world example, so let’s do it, shall we?

This possibility tends to be present in productivity apps where you are dealing with many individual documents, files or other similar items. So for our first example, let’s start with Google Drive.

Open the Drive app on Android and find any file or even folder that you tend to recall often from your phone. Tap the little three-dot menu icon next to it and carefully observe the sprawling list of options that appears before your blinking eyes.

Halfway through that list — and you might even have to scroll a bit to see it, depending on the size of your device — you should see an innocuous little option called “Add to Home Screen.”

Android Shortcuts: Google Drive JR

Touch that son of a gibbon, and how about that? You can actually add a shortcut with a tap to that exact object directly on the home screen for direct and very fast access. This means you can access them easily, anytime, without having to open the main Drive app or do any kind of search.

Android Shortcuts: Google Drive home screen JR

What’s interesting is that these same types of shortcuts will Sometimes they appear when you press and hold the associated app icon, but more often than not they won’t. That area of ​​the Android interface tends to include a combination of functions within an app along with a recently accessed item or two. But when there’s a specific file or folder you’re looking at, it’s up to you to dive into the actual app and find it, then find the option to add it to your home screen from there.

And Drive isn’t the only place where this puzzling possibility exists.

Shortcuts, shortcuts, everywhere

Remember how I said it’s mostly productivity apps where this system shows up? Perhaps it won’t surprise you, then, that another Android app that’s a perfect place to explore it is Google documents.

Open Documents, tap the three-dot menu icon next to any document you have, and look for the “Add to Home Screen” option in the panel that appears. (Here in particular, you’ll almost certainly have to scroll down a bit to find it. I told you it was hidden!)

Tap that sucker and shazam — you now have a one-tap shortcut that will send you directly to that specific document, right from your home screen.

Android Shortcuts: Google Docs home screen JR

It doesn’t get much easier than this. And the same thing is possible in Microsoft Word on Androidalso, by the way, if that’s your jam.

The concept also applies to the front of the spreadsheet, as in Android application Google Sheets:

Android Shortcuts: Google Sheets home screen JR

And it’s also available in the Google Contacts Android app. Open any individual contact there, then tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner of the screen to give you a quick and easy link to that specific Homo sapien hub.

The most prominent example, while still super easy to overlook and/or forget about, is Chrome. There, you can tap the three-dot menu icon while viewing any specific site to add a direct link to that site on the home screen.

And there is another aspect of this system that is worth considering.

Wait – widgets?!

What’s especially confusing about this setup is that the types of shortcuts we’re talking about are technically considered Android widgets, even though they really aren’t. They are shortcuts.

Here’s how I know it: Widgets can’t be stacked. Try dragging one widget on top of another and nothing will happen (apart from feeling a bit stupid for a second).

With these app-added shortcuts, on the contrary, you can drag and stack to your heart’s content. And, in fact, this opens up another interesting possibility: you can create folders of related shortcuts to give you a personalized productivity command center.

Android Shortcuts: Home Screen Folder JR

The widget miscategorization is important to keep in mind, however, because occasionally you’ll encounter a shortcut like this that can only accessible via the phone widget add menu — Not via the app itself.

This is the case with Gmail, for example. Hold your finger anywhere on the home screen and find the option to add a widget, then find Gmail in the list and look for the “Gmail label” item. This will allow you to add a one-tap shortcut to any specific label from your inbox on your home screen, and just like the other shortcuts we’ve created, that shortcut can then be combined with any other in a folder for the ultimate organization.

The same goes for Microsoft OneDrive application for Android as well as the Google Maps Android app, which offers the ability to create a one-tap shortcut to open directions to any specific destination. You just have to look in that add widget menu to find it.

So use the examples we just looked at as a starting point and then have a look around to see what else you can find. One thing’s for sure: you’ve got some great options for increased efficiency right at your fingertips. And now that you’ve got this Mega-Nerd™ knowledge in your noggin, you know Exactly how to discover them and make the most of their potential.

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