Android App Review Special Series, Part 1: The Apps *MY* Phone Absolutely Must Have Installed. Today’s Feature: Smart Shortcuts

Thanks to popular demand, I’m going to write about which apps I need to have.

This is a project that many Android app review sites have done; people have actually asked me for *MY* list.  I am thrilled to deliver!  However…

I could only narrow the list down to something like… 40-45 apps.  That’s right; 40-45 apps I HAVE to have in order to be happy with my Android.  I imagine a great deal of you don’t even have that many apps total on your phone, and that’s perfectly normal.  I am an unapologetic app junkie though, and you might be too once you’ve finished reading through the lists I am going to publish.

Today, I am only going to be talking about one app.  Without this app, my phone would be incredibly difficult to navigate through.  It’d take me ages to wade through the massive throng of apps in my drawer like a lost child at Woodstock to find what I was looking for, without it.  I would not be the helpless Android addict I am today if it were not for…



Smart Shortcuts is an amazing organizational tool, and particularly for app hoarders like myself, it is a godsend.  It isn’t just a clever name, folks; these really are smart shortcuts.  What it does is allow you to categorize any and all of your apps, bookmarks, contacts, files/folders and make them accessible as a group in one 1×1 widget.  Kinda underwhelming, considering it is my #1 most necessary application, huh?  I completely disagree.

This is my homescreen.  I can access every application on my phone from it, without touching the app drawer, and find everything I want to easily and quickly.

For a little bit of perspective, I have over 175 applications installed, and have had as many as 250.  If I’ve drawn a picture before, both of my app addiction and of this app’s utility, now I’ve colored it in.

Allow me to sell you on it a little more.  I have 6 categories for my apps: Creativity, Games, Media, Tools, Soc/GPS, and Toys.  Every click-worthy app on my phone is listed in one of these 6 folders.  No app drawer-diving for the buried treasure of ‘that cool thing I wanted to show ya’ ever again.

If I were to click my ‘Creativity’ shortcut on the homescreen above (my icon for it happens to be blank in my build – *I* made it that way.  There are a great deal of icons to choose from, and plenty to find online to use to customize it to your liking!  Oh shit, I was talking about something else…), I’d see the apps I’d listed in that category only, in a sensible, scrollable pop-up list that acts like a mini-app drawer.  It is a very smooth animation, and click any app in there, that app opens.  Click anywhere outside the box, the pop-up closes again.  You can change how these apps are ordered, mark some as faves so they stay at the top of their box, remove the text – lots of options for within the ‘mini-drawer’ as I’m choosing to describe it.

Here’s what’s within ‘Application Shortcuts’ – your list of tags, along with ‘Other Shortcuts’. 

← closed, and

 …………. expanded.→

This free app is ad-supported, but the ads are never bothersome or intrusive, and a donation of $2.49 removes them.

The first thing you’d likely do is alter the tags to match how you’d like to sort your applications; how mine are labelled aren’t how they come by default.  Once you’ve done that, you go into your ‘Other Shortcuts’, and click an application – the list of tags you’ve created comes up, with checkboxes.  Check the appropriate one(s), and hit OK.  There, its in that mini-drawer now!  Read the MouseOver descriptions!

If you own(ed) an Android device that runs Android 1.6 (Donut), 2.0/2.1 (Eclair), 2.2 (Froyo), or 2.3 (Gingerbread) – You may very well have used or are using LauncherPro, one of the most popular home replacements of all time.  What initially made me fall completely in love with Smart Shortcuts is that you can place your SS widgets into the app dock, essentially being able to split your apps into separate drawers at the bottom of your screen.  Sadly, LauncherPro has gotten well behind in updates, as its developer is busy working on a total re-write and other projects (as far as any of us were told) and it is not optimal for Android 4.0+ (Ice Cream Sandwich). *We miss your work, Fede!*

Now, all of that there is more than enough to make it my most necessary and favorite application; easily worth my two fitty of donation cash.  Allow me a Billy Mays channeling moment… BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

You can do the same thing you did with your apps with your Bookmarks, Contacts, or Files and Folders!  Split your Bookmarks into categories (tags) and have them at a button press; Smart Shortcuts can use your local (on-phone) bookmarks, or import your Chrome bookmarks through your Google profile!

You can split your Contacts into Friends, Family, Pizza Places, and Dipshits if you want, and have them all in neat little segregation!  You can organize your on-tablet files beautifully so that the Jones account and Budinski account .pdf’s are in seperate folders, despite having extremely similar names!  (based on an actual complaint at work recently, names changed for posterity)

Choice options for adding to a Freestyle Shortcut set

The most amazing function, however, is the Freestyle Shortcuts.  What this does is let you take any Application, Bookmark, Contact, File or Folder and drop it in – or – put in a whole damn tag!  You can have like… a tag with 3 contacts in it, one bookmark, another tag with 6 of your most highly used apps, and 2 pictures of your dog – in one mini-drawer, accessible through one little widget!  It’s SHORTCUT-CEPTION!

At the low price of free, if you love searching for and trying new apps, this tool is essential.  I’ve used it and pressured others to try it since Android 1.6, and I still use it today on my Galaxy Nexus, running Android 4.0.3.  Sure, ICS has the ‘folder’ option which does something similar – but you’re limited to a certain number of shortcuts, can’t drop folders in other folders, and it isn’t nearly as easy to set up as Smart Shortcuts.


  • The best easy way to organize everything on your Android.  Required for app and bookmark hoarders.
  • I love it.  A lot.  So much so that my wife gives it dirty looks.
  • The above isn’t true.  She doesn’t give it dirty looks.
  • An amazing amount of utility for nothing; but I strongly suggest you donate to support the fantastic devs behind this little piece of genius.

I apologize for running so long with this one;  I must have come across like that girl who loves cats on Youtube.  Coming up next in this series, I will give reviews… brief reviews… on the apps that I absolutely MUST have on my phone from each of my tags in Smart Shortcuts.  Next Time: Tools!



4 thoughts on “Android App Review Special Series, Part 1: The Apps *MY* Phone Absolutely Must Have Installed. Today’s Feature: Smart Shortcuts

  1. Hey I just started up a blog with iPhone/iPod/iPad app reviews and technology discussions, come check out my blog at:
    My latest discussion is: Should I jailbreak my iDevice?

  2. Pingback: The State of my Galaxy Nexus (CDMA/LTE) 1/11/2012 | JUST REBOOT!

  3. Pingback: The State of my Galaxy Nexus (CDMA/LTE) 1/25/2012 | JUST REBOOT!

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