10 Secret Android Shortcuts That Make It Faster Than Ever

Dan Price 27-04-2017

Here at MakeUseOf, we’re staunch believers in the benefits of memorizing and using some key desktop shortcuts Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More . They can dramatically speed up your workflow and make you more productive.


What we’ve spent less time looking at, however, are shortcuts for your smartphone. Like their desktop counterparts, learning and utilizing them can lead to a faster and more enjoyable user experience.

But which Android shortcuts should you memorize? Which are the ones that experts and geeks use every single day? Keep reading to find out.

Note: All the shortcuts discussed below are available on phones running stock Android 7.0 Nougat. None of this requires a third-party app.

1. Ignore Unwanted Calls

We live in a world of cold calls and unsolicited approaches. They’re annoying to receive, especially if you’re in a productive mood and deep in thought. Of course, you could put your phone on silent or use the “Priority Mode” How to Set Up Android's Priority Mode (and Get Back Silent Mode) Volume controls changed a lot in Lollipop, so we're here to help you make sense of all of it. Read More feature, but then you’re liable to miss something important.

Instead, you can instantly kill the ringer by pressing the Volume Down button. You won’t be distracted for more than a couple of seconds, and the cold caller will be left with the frustration of your phone ringing out. Double win.


2. Take a Screenshot

Want to grab a screenshot of an SMS conversation or a funny meme? Thankfully, the Android operating system offers an easy way to take screenshots The 5 Best Ways to Take a Screenshot on Any Android Phone We show you how to take a screenshot on Android. Choose between default shortcuts and apps to capture your Android phone. Read More .

android gesture swipe
Image Credit: Holla Wise via Shutterstock

Just press Power + Volume Down simultaneously — whatever is on your screen at that moment will be saved to your device, and a notification will appear that will let you share or delete it.

3. Force a Restart

The Android operating system is a lot more stable nowadays than it was a few years ago. Nonetheless, smartphones can still crash from time to time. You might find your phone stuck on a certain screen one day, and no amount of taps or swipes will make it work.


In the pre-smartphone era, this wasn’t a problem — you could just pop out the battery. These days, that’s not possible on the vast majority of handsets. Try pressing and holding Power + Volume Up for a few seconds, and your phone should turn itself off.

4. Instantly Launch the Camera

It’s amazingly difficult to capture perfect photographs 7 Key Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners These photography tips will help you take better photos, whether you're a beginner or have some practice already. Read More  — the window of opportunity to take them often lasts for mere seconds. By the time you’ve found your phone, unlocked it, fired up the camera app, and got the scene in focus, the moment is long gone.

But, Android offers a shortcut. Double tap the Power button twice in quick succession to automatically launch the camera app. If it doesn’t work for you, check that the feature is enabled in Settings > Display > Press Power Button Twice For Camera.

5. “Ok, Google”

Using the “Ok, Google” voice command is a time shortcut rather than a settings shortcut.


Google’s rapidly improving smart assistant can perform lots of tasks OK, Google: 20 Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Google Assistant can help you get a lot done on your phone. Here are a whole bunch of basic but useful OK Google commands to try. Read More . For example, it can make phone calls, send messages, give you directions, set alarms and reminders, give you a weather forecast, remind you of upcoming events, play music, and answer your general queries.

Used correctly, it can save you a lot of time and taps.

6. App Info

Finding out information about a particular app on your phone can be a bit tedious. You have to navigate to Settings > Apps, wait for the phone to populate the list, scroll down through the (often extensive) list of software, and finally wait for the new screen to open.

Or do you? Actually, there’s an easier way.


android app info

Open the app drawer by tapping the six-dot icon in the bottom-center of your homescreen, and find the app you want. Tap and drag it up to the top of the screen, and let go of it once it’s hovering over App Info. Same information, less time.

7. Create a Notification Log

Every accidentally swiped away a notification before you’ve properly read it, only to realize later that it was rather important?

Don’t worry. Spend a few seconds creating a notification log shortcut on your home screen, and you’ll never encounter the problem again.

android notification log

First, press on hold your finger on the homescreen. Then go to Widgets > Settings and choose Notification Log from the pop-up menu. You’ll now have a one-press shortcut to your entire notification history right on your homescreen.

8. Quickly Switch Between Two Apps

If you asked average Android users how they switch between apps, most of them would probably say they use the Recents button (the square icon in the navigation bar) and choose from the scrollable on-screen list.

If you need to access an app that you previously accessed a while ago, that’s the best way. But if you want to flick back and forth between two apps quickly, did you know you can just double tap the Recents button? It’s much faster.

9. Type Numbers Quickly

When you’re writing a message or an email, the numbers on your Android’s keyboard The 5 Best GIF Keyboards for Texting and Emojis on Android What's the best GIF keyboard for Android? These keyboards make it easy to add GIFs and emojis to anything you type. Read More are hidden behind the ?123 icon. Therefore, to type a number, you need to press the ?123 icon to switch to number/symbol mode, then tap the number, then tap the ABC icon to return to letter mode.

However, this definitely isn’t the fastest way. Instead, press and hold the letter that has the corresponding small number beside it (Q for 1, W for 2, and so on). The number will appear on-screen, but the keyboard will remain in “letter mode.”

10. Quick Response

Be honest, how many times have you rejected a call because you were busy, then labored to secretly write an SMS or WhatsApp message telling the caller why you couldn’t answer?

You should use a Quick Response. They’ve been around since Android 4.0, but they’re a startlingly underused feature.

android quick response

When your phone is ringing, tap the message icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. You’ll be given a list of pre-determined responses to choose from, or you can even craft your own by heading to Dialer App > Settings > Quick Responses.

What Shortcuts Do You Use?

I’ve introduced you to 10 of the best time-saving shortcuts that are native to the Android 7.0 operating system. Of course, there are plenty more — but in my opinion, these are the ones every Android owner should be using every day.

Now it’s your turn to offer your input. Which shortcuts do you find the most valuable? Which ones do you use all the time?

You can leave all your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions in the comments below.

Related topics: Android, Android Tips.

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  1. Geek
    August 6, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Useless article. Everyone knows that.

  2. likefunbutnot
    April 27, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    The most basic concept is not mentioned. Make folders on your home screen so you don't have to flip through pages of extra junk.

    Second: I generally don't like widgets but I do find that having widgets to turn screen rotation and vibration on and off to be very helpful. On a related note: remove widgets you don't use.