One feature that brings a serious level of efficiency to Android is App Actions. With these handy additions, you can do things like gain quick access to specific features of certain apps, without opening the apps themselves. Say, for example, you want to compose a quick email, and you don’t want to open the Gmail app. App Actions make this possible. Even with such quick access to app features, you can make this even more efficient by adding app shortcuts to your Android home screen.

Let me show you how.

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What you need

App Actions came into being with Android Oreo. So your device needs to be running Android 8 or newer. That’s all you need.

Accessing app actions

First, you need to know how to access App Actions. This is simple. I’ll demonstrate with the Gmail application (running on a Pixel 3 with Android Pie). From your Android home screen, locate the Gmail app and long press the launcher. You should see a pop-up menu, which includes all of the available App Actions for Gmail (Figure A).

Figure A

If you tap the Compose entry the Gmail compose window will open, and you can begin crafting a new email. Once you send that email, you’ll be taken back to your home screen (no Gmail app open–it’s magic).

Creating an app shortcut

If you thought that was efficient, let’s take it to the next level. Go ahead and open that App Action menu on Gmail once more. This time, however, instead of tapping Compose entry, tap and drag it to your home screen. You should now see a new launcher, labeled Compose, on your home screen (Figure B).

Figure B

If you tap that new app shortcut, the Gmail compose window will open (without having to go through the App Actions menu). Create as many of these app shortcuts as you need on your home screen. You can then create a new folder that contains nothing but app shortcuts, to keep your home screen from getting too cluttered. That folder makes for an incredibly efficient means to access the various features of your installed apps.

Not every app includes App Actions. I suggest you go through all of your apps to find out which do, so you can create a folder of app shortcuts to make your Android life as efficient as possible. The last thing you need is to get bogged down by opening various apps while you’re on the go. With app shortcuts, you cut a few steps out of your daily grind–steps that can add up throughout the day.