A handy hack for the Pixel’s new shortcut system

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Well, Pixel friends: we’ve talked a lot about it buried treasures you can dig into your oh-so-googley phone, especially thanks to the arrival of Android 12. But there’s a cool new feature you can make uniform Moreover useful with a little crafty customization.

I’m talking about Quick Tap system introduced the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro last month and now also available on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G.

The quick touch, in case you haven’t discovered it yet, is a gorgeous new shortcut system linked to the physical pressures of your favorite phalanx. Once you’ve set it up, you can simply double tap the back of your Pixel’s body to trigger a specific action on your phone.

Nice is not it? I really think so. It’s a clever time saver and a great way to create your own quick access shortcut to any function you want. The problem is just that the list of available options is annoyingly limited at the moment and what would be the most practical and logical shortcut for that setup, especially for those of us with the new Pixel 6 models, is missing in action.

As with most things on Android though, where there is a will, there is a way. And I’ve come up with a super simple method to improve Pixel’s Quick Tap feature and have it do the one obvious and incredibly useful thing it won’t do now.

[Psst: There’s lots more Pixel magic where this came from. Check out my free Pixel Academy e-course to uncover tons of advanced intelligence lurking within your current Pixel phone!]

Read on and I’ll explain.

Pixel’s quick tap limitation

We’ll get to that right away – the missing feature I’m worrying about is the simple and easy ability to mute your phone within the Pixel’s new touch shortcut system. That’d be a welcome option for Quick Tap on any Pixel, really, but there’s a reason it’s particularly relevant to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

The newer Pixel devices, you see, no longer have the convenient shortcut to mute all Pixels before them. On previous Pixels, a quick press of the power and volume up buttons would silence the phone in a flash. It has always been the easiest and most affordable way to put your phone to the test in a second, without having to fiddle with any on-screen menus or options.

On the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, however, Google has eliminated this option. The reason, apparently, is that it conflicts with the awkward new configuration where the devices’ power button now goes up Google Assistant by default. For this reason, the combination of power and volume has become the way to evoke the default power menu which actually allows you to shut down or restart the device.

It’s a bit of a mess, frankly, and more than a bit silly. I mean, come on: it’s called power button – not the Assistant button! But it’s also another indication of how hard Google is working put the assistant anywhere and everywhere and make it as smooth as possible to use.

(The same configuration is also available on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, but unlike the new Pixel 6 models, if you opt Not to get the power button to turn on the assistant, the old shortcut to power up volume still works. On the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, it’s not there at all, whatever you do.)

Now for the fix.

The Pixel Quick Tap expansion

By default, the new Pixel Quick Tap system can handle six different functions:

Google Pixel, Android 12: quick touch JR

Why mute the phone isn’t part of that list is beyond me. But with about 20 seconds of retouching, gosh, we can change that.

The trick ties into the last Pixel Quick Tap option: the one to open an app on your phone. And it revolves around a simple and completely free app from the Play Store called, quite aptly, Mute.

After much research and experimentation, I stumbled upon this random little gem and realized it was the perfect answer to our pressing problem. It doesn’t look like much, and it hasn’t even been updated in nearly five years. But don’t let it get you down. For our current purposes, it is Exactly what we need.

All you have to do is install the app and then open it once. You will be asked to allow mute to change your system settings, a permission it obviously needs if it is able to mute your phone for you. The app doesn’t ask for any other permissions or access modes, and it can’t even access the internet. All it does, literally, is silence the phone every time it is activated.

Do you see where we are going with this? The next step is to open your Pixel’s quick tap settings, by going to the System section of your Pixel’s settings, then tapping “Gestures” followed by “Quick tap” (again, only available on Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro , Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G).

Make sure the switch at the top of the screen is on and active. Then, select the “Open App” option at the bottom of the list, then tap the gear-shaped settings icon next to it and select “Mute” from the list of choices that appears.

Go back to the home screen and that’s it: now, every time you double tap the back of your Pixel, you’ll feel a short vibration and you’ll see a small visual confirmation that mute has been activated. Your phone’s media and ringtone volume will drop completely to zero and Android’s Do Not Disturb mode will be activated. Double-tap again and the Do Not Disturb feature will turn off while the volume settings return to their previous levels.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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