Pixel shortcut: how to get the most out of Quick Tap

The Google Pixel 6 in Sorta Seafoam color resting on a bridge

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

In the early smartphone years, devices had multiple buttons, both below the display and on the sides. Modern minimalist designs have done away with most of these physical buttons, reducing the options for setting hardware-based shortcuts. However, the latest Pixels have come up with a way to include a shortcut without adding extra physical buttons. This hidden but great customizable shortcut is not enabled by default. The official name of the feature is Quick Tap and it is a double tap on the back of the phone.

What is Quick Tap and how do I activate it?

Quick Tap lets you choose one of many possible actions to perform when you double-tap the back of your Pixel. I see it a bit like knocking on a door and opening something in response. You can set that to take a screenshot, launch Google Assistant, play/pause media, or open any app or action within that app – ie launcher app shortcuts, if you remember what those are. The biggest limitation is that it only works when the device is in use, so unlocked.

I think of Quick Tap a bit like knocking on a door and opening something in response.

To set up Quick Tap, open your Pixel’s settings, then go to . to go System > Gesture > Quick Tap. Enable the feature and then choose the option that best suits your needs. You may also need stronger taps to activate the shortcut. I recommend not enabling that first and then paying attention to whether the action is often triggered by accident. If that happens, turn on the stronger taps setting; otherwise you don’t need to change anything.

What are the best shortcut ideas for your Pixel?

The possibilities with Quick Tap are almost endless. However, since it only works when the phone is already unlocked and in use, think of it as more than just a regular shortcut. It’s a quick way to do something while using other apps. (Otherwise it would be the same as a shortcut on the home screen.) So what would be the perfect use case for that?

Since there are several ways to launch the Assistant or take a screenshot on a Pixel, I wouldn’t waste this extra shortcut on that. Pausing/playing media is a good choice, but only if you’re not using Bluetooth earbuds or headphones. Now that those choices have been rejected, it’s time to delve into apps and in-app actions.

One of the best uses is to display my vaccination certificate or launch my two-factor authentication app.

My favorite usage scenario is to show my vaccination certificate. This is possible because the French track-and-trace app (Google Play) provides an in-app shortcut for health passes. If your country’s app has similar functionality and you need to present your QR code everywhere, Quick Tap is a great way to get there.

Another cool idea is to have it open your favorite password manager or two-factor authentication app. A double tap is definitely better than searching for the app when trying to log into a service. If you commute often, you can also save a lot of time by setting up Quick Tap to take you home or to work in Google Maps or CityMapper. For productivity enthusiasts, adding a reminder or task in Google Calendar is perfect. Workaholics will appreciate that it can be set up to open any channel in Slack or the inbox of any account in Gmail, while social bees will love the deep integration with Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others. Or you can be the boring person who assigns it to the calculator or clock – hey, I’m only partially judging.

What did you set up Quick Tap to do on your Pixel?

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Personally, I love the versatility and simplicity of Quick Tap. My only problem with it is that it’s limited to a single two-tap shortcut. Google should allow us to activate triple and – why not – quadruple taps as well. That gives so many more shortcut options for Pixel users, and the time-saving hacks enthusiast in me would appreciate any of them.

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