The Best Android Shortcuts

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 15, 2016, Android

Do you ever wish that you could be a little more efficient when using your phone? If you have and you’ve got an Android, then you’re in luck. Android has tons of shortcuts built in, and these will help you do all kinds of things faster and more efficiently than ever before. Of course, this is only true if you know how these shortcuts work. So today we’re taking a look at some of the best Android shortcuts. You might know some of these, but we’re willing to bet you don’t know them all!


Before we get to the shortcuts, we have to be honest and tell you that not all of these shortcuts will work on all Android phones. Sometimes manufacturers add their own shortcuts which over-ride stock Android ones, and if you’ve got an older version of Android then you might simply not have some shortcut options. However, there should be at least some of the below that you can use.

The Camera Opener

This one is a shortcut that’s surprisingly little known. Taking a picture on your mobile is fine if you’ve got plenty of time to dig out your phone, unlock it, open up the camera app and focus. But if you’re in a hurry to get that shot, then all of that seems like a lot of work. Fortunately there is a short cut to help you speed things up. On most Android phones you can double tap the power button and automatically open the camera app, even if your phone is asleep. You’ll never miss a photo op again.

Skip the Unlocking

We’re the first to tell you that your phone should have a lock screen with a password, code or pattern, for the simple reason that it makes your phone more secure. However, there are times when you might not want this lock screen. Android makes it simple to avoid unlocking your phone under certain circumstances, which can be pretty convenient.

Head into the settings menu, then go to security, and find the option that says smart lock. Enable this and you’ll get a list of options. There are generally four options. Location unlocking will allow you to set a location where your phone will automatically unlock. For example, you might want your phone to be unlocked whilst at home but to lock once you leave home. You can also set a trusted voice, so the phone will unlock if it hears that voice, or select on-body detection so your phone stays unlocked as long as you’re in contact with it. Finally, there is also an option for trusted devices, which will let your phone stay unlocked if you’re close to, say, a smartwatch or Bluetooth headset. All of these will let you save yourself a little time…

Contact Widgets

Contact widgets are an awesome shortcut, and one that many people just don’t make enough use of. If you’ve got one or two contacts that you frequently message or call then make them a widget! Press and hold on a blank area of your home screen, choose widgets when a menu appears, then choose contact widgets from the available options. You’ll be taken to your contacts list and can choose which contacts to make into a widget. You’ll then be able to call or message that person direct from your home screen, without needing to open your contact list, SMS app or phone app. Sweet.

Get Voice Control!

Most people know that Google Now allows you to voice control certain actions, including getting Google to search things for you, setting alarms or reminders, and adding calendar appointments. However, it used to be that you could only use this option from the Google Now app. Times have changed though, and now you can use your voice from anywhere in your phone, even inside other apps, as long as you set it up right. Go into your Google search or Google Now app, hit the settings button, chose voice, then select “ok Google detection,” then toggle the option for “from any screen” on. And bingo, you can talk to Google whenever you like.

Need a Screen Shot?

Sometimes you just need a screen shot. Maybe you’ve run into a problem and need some help, maybe you want to prove to your friends that you really did beat that high score, whatever your reason, taking a screen shot on an Android couldn’t be easier. Simply hold down the power and volume down buttons at the same time until you hear a click. You’ll then find your screen shot in your gallery.

Can’t Answer? No Problem!

If you frequently get phone calls that you can’t answer for some reason, but you don’t want to be rude, then Android have a built in way to let your caller know what’s up. Simply swipe up on the incoming call screen and you’ll get a list of options like “I’ll call you later” or “can’t talk now, what’s up?” Simply select the one that’s most appropriate and it will be sent automatically as a text to the person that’s calling you. You can even design your own instant response messages. Go into your phone dialler, tap the three buttons in the top right corner, then choose settings, then quick responses. You can then design your own messages which will appear on the list of options the next time you need to ignore a call. Simple.

A Few App Options…

Whilst Android does have many built in shortcuts, there are also some awesome apps that add further choices that will make your phone use faster and more efficient. Omni Swipe is a great one that gives you faster access to the apps that you use most often. Or check out Shortcuts, which lets you add shortcuts to your favourite apps directly to your notification bar. If you frequently multitask, then you might want EAS, which lets you easily switch between apps. There are tons of shortcut apps available, so there’s sure to be something there for you!