How to Control Your Android Phone Without Touching the Screen

A photo of an Android phone in a person's hand

Have I got a nifty Android tip for you! Over the past few weeks, I was thrilled to discover several ways to control my Android phone without touching the screen and going through various apps.

This is especially useful when you’re having trouble getting your phone out of your pocket, have gloves on and can’t navigate the touchscreen, or simply need to get to frequently used functions in a pinch. These shortcuts have made my phone a lot easier to use – let me show you how to set things up on your device.

Control Audio Playback with the Volume Buttons

A clever little app called Volumee lets you configure long-press actions for your volume buttons when music or other media content is playing.

For example, you can long-press each of the volume buttons to skip tracks forward or backward, and you can press both buttons at the same time to pause and resume playback.

Volumee Lets You Control Media Playback Using Your Volume Buttons
Volumee lets you control media playback using your volume buttons

I use these when walking my dog, or listening to podcasts while doing chores. I also like that you can avoid accidental presses by setting the app to only function when the screen is off.

If you’re feeling fancy, you can unlock the Pro version to favorite your Spotify tracks with a shortcut of your choosing.

Read more: learn how to add custom gestures on Android.

Launch Apps with the Volume Buttons

Volumee is great for controlling your audio, but Key Mapper takes things several steps further by letting you launch any app, toggle quick settings on or off, and more with your volume buttons.

Before we proceed, I’d love to introduce you to app shortcuts. These are functions within apps that you can access directly. For example, updating your weight in Google Fit usually takes a few taps in the app, but you can go straight to typing in your weight by using an app shortcut. These shortcuts can typically be accessed through home screen launchers and tools like Key Mapper.

App Shortcuts Trigger Actions Within An App Directly
App shortcuts trigger actions within an app directly

Now that you know about app shortcuts, let’s get cooking. I’ve got a simple volume button-press combination to quickly open up Google Pay; that’s volume up-down-down. I’ve got another one to start recording a voice note for brainstorming on the go – that’s thanks to an app shortcut within Easy Voice Recorder Pro that I can configure for this button-press combo.

Key Mapper Can Configure Any Button Press Combo To Trigger A Wide Range Of Actions
Key Mapper can configure any button-press combo to trigger a wide range of actions

Bonus tip: Follow our guide to brainstorming with voice notes for tips on doing it right, and choosing the best app for the job.

If you have apps that you find yourself using daily, you’ll want to check if they offer shortcuts that you can use with Key Mapper in the configuration menu for a button-press combo. This might need a bit of experimentation, as some shortcuts may be not descriptively labeled.

Read more: Learn how to add a shortcut on your Android home screen.

Tap the Back of Your Phone

If you’re rocking a Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phone, you can simply tap the rear panel of your phone twice to launch an app or trigger a quick setting. Google calls this Quick Tap, and Samsung has the Back Tap feature in its Good Lock app for Galaxy handsets.

If you have an Android phone from a different brand, or want more control over what this gesture does, try Tap Tap. This free app lets you configure shortcuts for both double and triple tapping the back of your device.

Tap Tap Lets You Trigger All Kinds Of Shortcuts Just By Double Or Triple Tapping The Back Of Your Android Phone
Tap Tap lets you trigger all kinds of shortcuts just by double or triple tapping the back of your Android phone

Besides the usual bunch of options like launching apps and shortcuts, it can also trigger Tasker tasks, simulate gestures like swiping up or down on the screen, and switch to the most recently used app.

I’ve got the double tap set to open the Kindle app, so I can read a couple of pages of a book instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. The triple tap is set to launch Google Keep, where I capture to-dos and short notes. You could also have Google Maps guide you back home without having to press anything.

Touch the Notch

Okay, so with this tip, you are kind of touching your screen – but let it slide and hear me out. If, like most phones, yours has a front camera or a notch, you can use the Touch the Notch app to turn that into a button. By default, it’s set to launch the Camera app; you can configure this to open anything else you like, of course.

Touch The Notch Can Trigger Actions When You Simply Touch Your Phone's Front Camera
Touch the Notch can trigger actions when you simply touch your phone’s front camera

You can also add actions for long press, double tap, and swiping horizontally on it. There’s also support for setting up automated tasks, dialing a phone number, and toggling between ringer modes.

There you have it, a bunch of clever ways to control your Android phone without touching the screen. Which one is most useful for you, and how do you have it set up? Share your configurations in the comments.

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Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Abhimanyu is obsessed with finding apps and gadgets that extend our capabilities, whether that’s a second brain in the cloud or a new way to create art. He’s been covering consumer tech over a decade as a journalist and editor. When he’s not busy trying new devices, he’s out motorcycling across South India.

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