5 ways to manage Android Home screen shortcuts

The Android Home screen shortcuts are the fastest way to access your favorite apps and contacts. You can add or remove shortcuts, move them around, and group them into folders on your smartphone's Home screen. This tutorial illustrates everything you need to know to manage your Android Home screen shortcuts:

NOTE: For this tutorial, we used an ASUS ZenFone Max Pro device running Android 9 Pie. The procedures are similar on all Android-powered devices, so you should be good to go even if you have a smartphone from Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, or some other manufacturer. If you do not know your Android version, read How to check the Android version on your smartphone or tablet.

1. Add app shortcuts to your Android Home screen

The first thing we do on a new smartphone, after changing the wallpaper and choosing a new ringtone, is to add the shortcuts to our favorite apps to the Home screen. To add a new app shortcut on your Home screen, begin by opening the All Apps screen. To do that, swipe up on the Home screen or tap on the All apps button, available on most Android smartphones.

Swipe up to access All Apps

In the All Apps screen, find the app you want to be added to your Home screen. For this tutorial, we decided to use Firefox Focus - Mozilla's privacy-focused browser.

TIP: The apps are arranged in alphabetical order. If you can't find the app you're looking for, you can also type its name in the Search apps field displayed at the top of the All Apps screen.

Find the app you need

Tap and hold on the app, and then move your finger on the screen to grab it. The app's icon starts floating, following your finger. This lets you drag the icon to an empty space on your Home screen.

Drag and drop the icon to create Home screen shortcut

Lifting your finger off the screen drops the shortcut to the position of your choice on the Home screen.

The shortcut is placed on the Home screen

That's it. The shortcut is created, and you can now use it to access your app.

2. Add contact shortcuts to your Android Home screen

If you call someone often, like your best friend or your significant other, you can add a shortcut to their contact on your Android Home screen for faster access. First, access the All Apps screen by swiping up from the Home screen or using the All apps button.

Swiping up accesses All Apps

In the All Apps screen, open the Contacts app by tapping on it.

Tap on Contacts

On your list of contacts, find the name of the person you wish you could reach more easily. Tap on the contact to open it.

Access the contact you want on the Home screen

Tap the More options button in the upper-right corner. It looks like three vertical dots.

Tap the button for More options

Select "Add to Home screen" from the options available.

Tap on Add to Home screen

Now you can choose how to add the contact's shortcut to the Home screen. Tap and hold on the icon to add the shortcut manually, or press Add automatically.

Choose how to place the shortcut

The shortcut for the contact is added to your Home screen, and you can start using it to get in touch with your loved ones faster.

NOTE: We found no difference between selecting to place the shortcut manually or automatically, because, on our device, regardless of the choice we make, it is always placed in the same spot: the first available space on our second Home screen.

The contact shortcut is added to the Home screen

Tapping on the shortcut lets you access the same options you get in the Contacts app, such as Call, Text, Edit contact, and More options.

TIP: If you want a shortcut to fast dial the number of a person you know, read: How to create a shortcut to fast dial or direct message a contact, in Android.

3. Remove a shortcut from your Android Home screen

If you keep adding shortcuts to it, your Home screen becomes cluttered. So, from time to time, we recommend removing some of the shortcuts for the apps you're no longer using all that often. The same quick and simple process is used for both app and contact shortcuts. Tap and hold on the Android Home screen shortcut that you want to get rid of, and you should see a Remove button appear at the top of the screen. Drag the icon you grabbed over Remove and release it there.

Drag and drop the shortcut onto Remove

The shortcut is erased from the Home screen, freeing the space it previously occupied.

NOTE: Removing an app's shortcut from the Home screen does not uninstall the app from your device. To learn how to get rid of an app completely, read 4 ways to uninstall apps on Android.

4. Move shortcuts around on your Android Home screen

You can arrange your Android Home screen shortcuts any way you like. Tap and hold on a shortcut to grab it and then drag it around to another location. A nearby circle appears on the screen indicating the closest available position for the shortcut.

Drag the icon around on the Home screen

As you move your finger dragging the shortcut, other elements on your Home screen might shift position, allowing you to drop the icon in their place.

Other screen elements make room to place your shortcut

Drag an icon to the edge of the Home screen to move it to the next or the previous Home screen.

Move the icon to the edge to go to the next screen

When you decide on a spot, drop the icon to that position by lifting your finger from the screen. The shortcut can now be found at the new location.

5. Create and organize groups or folders of shortcuts on the Android Home screen

To free up valuable space on the Home screen while keeping things organized, you can also group shortcuts into folders (or groups). By default, your Android smartphone might already come with some app groups on its Home screen - our smartphone's Home screen had two such folders, called Google and ASUS. You can have folders with both contacts and app shortcuts.

Creating groups is easy. All you need to do is drag a shortcut on top of another one that is already found on the Home screen. Below, we dragged the WhatsApp shortcut on top of the one for Facebook's Messenger.

Drag a shortcut onto another

A group containing the shortcuts of the two apps is instantly created on your Home screen. The folder's icon shows the two apps it contains. Drop more icons onto the group to add other shortcuts. Tap on the group to quickly access them.

The group is added to the Home screen

Tapping on the group opens it, letting you use the shortcuts it holds. When you create a folder, it is unnamed. Tap on Unnamed Folder to choose a name for your group.

TIP: The process is the same when renaming a group on your Home screen: open the folder and tap on its name to change it.

Tap on Unnamed Folder to pick a name

Use the on-screen keyboard to insert a name for your folder - we named ours Communicate. Tap on the checkmark button or anywhere on your Home screen to save your changes.

Enter a new name for your folder

The new name is displayed under your folder's icon on the Home screen of your Android smartphone.

The folder's name is shown on the Home screen

The shortcuts inside your folders can be organized similarly to the ones on your Home screen. Tap and hold on a shortcut to grab its icon and move it around to reposition it, previewing the changes. When you decide, lift your finger to drop the icon to the chosen spot.

Repositioning the YouTube shortcut inside the Google folder

To remove a shortcut from a folder, tap and hold on it. Then, move your finger to drag it outside the folder. If you want to keep the shortcut, drop it on your Home screen. Drag the shortcut and release it onto the Remove button on top if you don't need it anymore.

Drag and drop the shortcut to add it to the Home screen

When there is only one shortcut left inside a folder, that shortcut is returned to the Home screen, and the group disappears.

A group can only exist if it has two shortcuts

If you want to get rid of a folder and all the shortcuts in it, you can also delete it just like any other shortcut. Folders can be removed by pressing and holding on them and then dragging them onto the Remove option on top of the screen.

Remove a group or folder

How often do you manage your shortcuts?

We enjoy personalizing our Android Home screens, and the shortcuts are a big part of that. Because we use smartphones for both work and fun, our needs in terms of apps can change very often, so organizing our Home screen shortcuts becomes a continuous process. What about you? How often do you take time to manage your Android Home screen shortcuts? Let us know in a comment below.

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