15 Essential Shortcuts to Add to Your Android Home Screen

15 Essential Shortcuts to Add to Your Android Home Screen
Shortcuts can live alongside apps on your home screen. (Photo: Gizmodo)

If you have an Android phone, you probably already know you can customise your home screen in a variety of ways. In addition to widgets, you can also set up single-tile shortcuts — buttons that take you straight to a particular setting, or a particular function in an app, or a particular contact.

Setting a shortcut up is basically the same as setting up a widget. Press and hold on a blank area of a home screen, choose Widgets, then scroll down the list to see what’s available. Any available shortcuts (or widgets) that come with the apps you’ve got installed can be selected and dragged to an appropriate spot on a home screen.

To show you what we mean, we’ve pulled together 15 handy shortcuts you might want to lay out in between your home screen widgets and your standard app icons.

Notification Log

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You can set up a Settings shortcut to most of the sections in the Settings menu. One handy shortcut you could set up is to the notification log, so you can look back at alerts that you might have dismissed without reading them properly.

Passwords & Accounts

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Another Settings shortcut to consider is one that leads straight to your master list of passwords and accounts, assuming you’re using Google and Chrome to remember them all. If you need to quickly look up one of your passwords, this is the fastest way to do it.

Do Not Disturb

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You’ll often want to tweak the default Do Not Disturb configuration for different locations and different times of the day, and this Settings shortcut takes you straight to the page of options you need. You can also turn Do Not Disturb on and off manually from this screen.

Battery

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Few info panels are as important on your phone as the one displaying the battery level, the amount of time it’s going to last for, and the various battery saving settings that may or may not be enabled, and with this Settings shortcut you can get straight to it with a tap.

Night Light

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Night Light is a Settings shortcut for the evening time, enabling you to quickly enable or disable the mode or configure the schedule that it runs according to. On supported phones, this will turn your display amber, reducing the amount of blue light being used.

Gmail Label

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If you’ve got a particularly important label in Gmail you want to jump to right from the home screen, then there’s a shortcut for that. You’ll be asked to pick a label from your account, and you can also choose to edit the name of the shortcut shown on screen.

Pixel Buds

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If you own a pair of Pixel Buds that are connected to your Android phone, then get the shortcut set up on your home screen to jump straight to settings for the earbuds. You can locate the Pixel Buds, change the touch controls, adjust the sound options and more.

Directions

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Google Maps comes with a variety of shortcuts to choose between, one of which gives you quick access to directions to a particular address (like your home or your office). You can specify the address and the preferred mode of transport when you set up the shortcut.

Share Location

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Also from Google Maps, this shortcut lets you share your current location with anyone in your contacts list. You can choose to share your whereabouts on an ongoing, indefinite basis, or just let someone else know where you are for a short period of time (up to a day).

Driving Mode

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Driving Mode is another shortcut offered by Google Maps, and it launches in the app with a simplified interface designed specifically for when you’re in the car. You can see your location and traffic conditions ahead, and get directions to frequently visited places.

Contact

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If there’s a contact that you spent a lot of time communicating with, why not set up the contact shortcut for them? Choose a person and you can access their contact sheet with a tap, showing you the various ways you can get in touch with them through your phone.

WhatsApp

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Third-party support for shortcuts beyond Google’s suite of products can be a bit hit and miss, but WhatsApp offers a couple of useful ones, including a direct link to the WhatsApp camera and a direct link to the one-to-one or group chat conversation thread of your choice.

Now Playing History

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If you own a Pixel phone then it’s worth setting up a shortcut to your Now Playing History (it’s under the Android System Intelligence heading). You can see at a glance which songs have been detected by your phone recently if Now Playing has been enabled.

Drive Scan

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Google Drive for Android can scan documents, if you didn’t know, so you can digitize your paperwork and stick it in the cloud. Set up a shortcut to this scanning functionality for easy access, and you’re able to pick a Drive folder where new scans are uploaded to.

Translate

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Set up a Google Translate shortcut to quickly get to a translation that you do often. You’ll be asked to pick languages to translate to and from, and the type of translation to run (including spoken or typed). It can save you a lot of time tapping through the app menus.