Did I mention how much I love shortcuts?
Okay, maybe I have. (Maybe, uh, somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,942 times, come to think of it.) But oh, it's true. There's something incredibly satisfying about knowing you're increasing your efficiency and cutting seconds out of your day.
And on Android, boy, do we have incredible opportunities to cut steps and reach Mega-Nerd™ levels of efficiency obsession.
Today, as your friendly Mega-Nerd™ neighbor, I want to remind you of an easily overlooked option for adding additional shortcuts directly to your home screen. These shortcuts are buried deep in some of Android's most productivity-focused apps. And you'd have to be, well, an efficiency-obsessed Mega-Nerd™ to even notice they're there.
Dude, get ready to achieve Mega-Nerd™ status.
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Shortcut witchcraft out of sight Android
So here's what's particularly nice about the Android shortcuts we're talking about: They're almost identical in form to the standard Android app shortcut system. reveal a series of direct links to specific features within the app; only with these do you really have to strain to find them.
These standard Android app shortcuts are awesome and just as easy to forget. (I've got an introduction and a bunch of specific suggestions here, if you could just recap.) But the ones we're talking about today are even more mysterious.
You see, with specific Android apps, you can create your own custom shortcuts to individual elements within the app from within the app itself.
This may be the most confusing sentence I've ever written, I realize. But it's a hard concept to convey without just walking through a concrete example, so let's do it, shall we?
This capability tends to be present in productivity apps where you handle a lot of documents, files, or other individual items. So for our first example, let's start with Google Drive.
Open the Drive app on Android and find any files or even folders that you tend to retrieve frequently from your phone. Tap the little three-dot menu icon next to it and watch the sprawling list of options appear in front of your blinking peepers.
In the middle of this list, and you may even have to scroll a bit to see it, depending on the size of your device, you should see a small, innocuous option called "Add to Home Screen."
Touch that son of a gibbon, and what do you think? In fact, you can add a one-click shortcut to that exact item right on your home screen for a super-fast shortcut. This means you can easily access it, at any time, without having to open the main Drive app or dig around in any way.
Interestingly, these same types of shortcuts will sometimes appear when you long-press the associated app icon, but most of the time they won't. This area of the Android interface tends to pack a mix of features into an app with one or two recently viewed items. But when there's a specific file or folder you're looking for, 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 confusing possibility exists.
Shortcuts, shortcuts, everywhere
Remember how I said that it's mainly the productivity apps where this system shows up? It might not surprise you, then, that another Android app that's a great place to explore is Google Docs.
Open Documents, tap on the three-dot menu icon next to any documents you have, and look for the “Add to Home Screen” option in the panel that appears. (Here in particular, you'll probably have to scroll a bit to find it. I told you it was hidden!)
Hit that dummy and shazam - now you have a one-click shortcut that will take you right to that specific document, right from your home screen.
There is nothing easier than this. And the same is also possible in Microsoft Word on Android, by the way, if that's your thing.
The concept also applies to the front of the spreadsheet, as in the Google Sheets app for Android:
And it is also available in the Google Contacts Android application. Just open any individual contact there, then tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right corner of the screen for a quick and easy link to the hub for that specific Homo sapiens.
The most striking example, although still very easy to ignore and/or forget, is Chrome. There, you can tap on the three-dot menu icon while viewing a specific site to add a direct link to that site on your home screen.
And there is another aspect of this system that is worth considering.
Wait, widgets? !
What's particularly confusing about this setting is that the types of shortcuts we're talking about are technically considered Android widgets, even though they're not really. These are shortcuts.
Here's how I know: widgets can't be stacked. Try dragging one widget on top of another and nothing will happen (other than feeling a bit silly for a second).
With these shortcuts added to the app, on the other hand, you can drag and stack as you like. And actually, it opens up another interesting possibility: you can create associated shortcut folders to give you a personalized productivity command center.
It's important to be aware of this miscategorization of widgets, though, as you'll occasionally come across a shortcut like this, which can only be accessed through your phone's Add Widgets menu, not through the app itself. .
This is the case of Gmail, for example. Touch and hold anywhere on the home screen and find the add widget option, then find Gmail in the list and find the “Gmail Label” item. This will allow you to add a one-click shortcut to any specific inbox label on your home screen, and like the other shortcuts we've created, this shortcut can be combined with any other shortcut in a folder. to achieve maximum organization.
The same goes for Microsoft's OneDrive app for Android, as well as the Google Maps app for Android, which offers the ability to create a one-click link to open directions to a specific destination. You just have to look in this add widgets menu to find it.
So use the examples we've just covered as a starting point, then dig around to see what else you can find. One thing is for sure, you have amazing efficiency-boosting options right at your fingertips. And now that he has that Mega-Nerd™ knowledge in his head, he knows exactly how to discover them and make the most of their potential.
Get even more advanced shortcut knowledge with my completely free tool Android Shortcuts Supercourse. You'll learn tons of tricks to save time with your phone!
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