Your Android smartphone is a great device for many reasons, but you probably aren’t taking advantage of some of them. That’s because Android has hidden shortcuts that can make using your phone more efficient, and we’re here to tell you what those shortcuts are.
Shortcuts, some of which are customizable, let you access certain features within apps or entire apps themselves incredibly quickly. Just know the right gesture, or where to tap and you can reach parts of your phone in seconds instead of minutes.
To improve your Android smartphone user experience, read below to see some of our favorite shortcuts and how to access them on your phone.
1. View two apps at once
Want to reference a webpage or email while writing in your preferred note-taking app? So long as you have Android 7 or later, it’s very possible to view two apps at once on your phone.
With Android 7 or 8, the shortcut for this is incredibly easy. Just press and hold the Overview key (the square icon next to the circle Home button at the bottom of your screen), and Android will split the screen for you horizontally, so you’ll have a top and bottom.
Tap whatever app you have open that you want for the top of your screen and drag it to the top half of that split. Do the same with the bottom half with whatever app you want there and you’ll be able to see both apps at once on your screen. To return to viewing one app at a time, just tap the Overview button again and you’ll be all set.
This shortcut is different in Android 9, but splitting your screen is still possible. Activate Overview by swiping up on the Home button (which is now a long dash with rounded ends). Instead of seeing your apps all stacked on top of each other vertically, they’re now beside each other with icons of the apps at the top of each rectangular view.
Tap one of these app icons and you’ll open a menu, giving you options like “App info,” “Pin” and “Split screen.” Select “Split Screen” and you’ll be able to put one of your open apps at the top or bottom of your screen, like in Android 7 and 8.
It should be noted this shortcut might be a little different on different Android phone models (Samsung and LG have their own ways of having multiple windows open on a screen). Also, not every app supports a split-screen view. But most do, so enjoy this app so you can have multiple views at once.
2. Shortcut to your phone’s camera
Nothing is worse than missing a picture-perfect moment because you were too slow to get the camera on your phone open. Android thankfully has a way you can pull the camera up quickly, even when your phone is locked.
If your phone is unlocked but you want to reach the camera without scrolling for the app, just double-tap the center Home button, the one that’s shaped like a circle in the center of the bottom icons on your screen. The camera app should pull up right away, and you’ll be able to take your picture right that second.
If your phone is locked and you have Android Marshmallow or later, you can tap, hold and swipe on the camera icon in the bottom right of your lock screen. Your camera app will open and you’ll be able to take a picture, your phone going right back to the lock screen when it’s done.
3. Reach quick settings menu
The quick settings menu on Android lets you make some common settings adjustments without digging through your entire settings app to find them. If you want to just turn Bluetooth on or off on your Android phone, access your flashlight or turn on Airplane mode, you’ll save time by doing it from quick settings and using this shortcut to get to quick settings faster.
To reach your quick settings, swipe down from the top of your phone screen with one finger twice. The first time, you’ll bring up your notifications (another handy shortcut, if you want to look through them all quickly), and the second time you’ll be taken to your quick settings menu.
Want to be even faster? Swipe down from the top of your screen with two fingers — that’ll bring you right to quick settings without bothering with notifications at all.
You can adjust what appears in your quick settings menu by getting apps like Tiles, Ringer Mode, or Weather Quick Settings Tile. But in general, quick settings lets you do things like turn Wi-Fi on or off, and lock or unlock your phone’s rotation with enormous speed.
4. Use individual app shortcuts
Android doesn’t just have shortcuts for general phone use — there are also shortcuts that can be accessed for the apps you use most often. You can customize these shortcuts for your particular use if you know a bit of coding.
If you write a lot of emails and want to save yourself a few taps, or if you want to load up a game from the last saved point and avoid its title screen, you can set up shortcuts to do just that.
To access an app’s shortcuts, press and hold an app icon on your home screen. A menu should appear that will let you see what shortcut options are available for that app right now.
An important note is that holding down on an app icon is how you move apps around on your Android’s home screen, so be patient if you keep activating that feature instead of opening the shortcuts menu. You’ll get there eventually, so long as that app has shortcuts.
Some shortcuts you should be able to use right now if you have one of the latest versions of Android are the “Free up space” option on Google Photos and accessing a particular conversation in a chat app. Pressing down on Google Photos is how you reach the “Free up space” shortcut, which deletes any photos and videos you have backed up to the cloud from your phone.
Holding down on a chat app, like Facebook Messenger, gives you a menu of the last chats you’ve most recently responded to, so you can quickly get back in the conversation or tell everyone there about a development.
These shortcuts will make using your phone more efficient and more effective at whatever you do most with it.