Access hidden menus in apps on Android phone and iPhone

Your iPhone or Android phone has hidden menus. Use them!

There are hidden menus on your phone that you may not be aware of and they are so useful you will use them all the time once you discover how to access them. They work on iOS and Android.

If you have an old iPhone or once owned an old iPhone, you will be familiar with the Force Touch or 3D Touch feature. The screen could detect the amount of pressure applied to it by a finger and depending on how hard you pressed, different menus could be displayed.

Force Touch and 3D Touch are no longer incorporated into iPhones and it was abandoned several generations ago. However, it has been replaced by a long-press or press-and-hold feature that performs a similar function.

Android phones never had Force Touch, 3D Touch or anything similar. They went straight to the long press feature. Press and hold and a menu or action is performed. It is good to get to know the features that are available because they make working with apps much easier and quicker.

Long press menus boost your productivity by enabling you to access features and functions without having to open and app and search through menus or toolbar buttons to find what you want.

Let’s take a look at some menus from various apps on the iPhone and Android phones. Ignore the system functions like removing an app or editing the home screen. Just focus on the app shortcuts menu.

Take notes, photos and more

How did we manage before we had smartphones with notes apps to remember things? You always have your phone, so when you need to remember something, just press and hold on the iPhone Notes app for a menu. You can create a new note or checklist, take a photo or scan a document. It is quicker and easier becuase it saves having to open the app and find these functions.

Hidden menu for the iPhone Notes app
Long press the Notes app on the iPhone

Google Keep is the Android phone equivalent of Notes on the iPhone and when you press and hold on the Keep icon, a useful menu appears. You can create a new note or list, take a photo and save it to a note or record and store an audio note. You don’t even need to type it! You get fast access to common functions.

Google Keep hidden menu
Long press the Keep icon on Android phone

There are many more notes apps for iPhones and Android phones, so if you use something else, try pressing and holding on the icon and see what appears on the menu that is displayed.

Outlook email and calendars

Access to emails as they arrive in your inbox is one of the benefits of smartphones. We are always contactable no matter where we are. Mostly that is useful, although it can be an irritation to get work emails out of work hours. Press and hold the Microsoft Outlook icon on an iPhone and a useful menu appears with options to create a new email or new event, or to view your calendar.

Hidden menu for the Outlook app on the iPhone
Long press the Outlook icon for a menu on iPhone

Users of the Outlook app will know that it is a dual function app that is used to access both your email and calendar. Press and hold on the Outlook icon on an Android phone and a menu appears with New email, New Event, and View calendar options. There are also a couple of recently accessed contacts and tapping one creates a new email addressed to that person.

Hidden menu for the Outlook app on an Android phone
Long press the Outlook icon for a menu on Android

The hidden Outlook menus are very useful for going straight to actions in the app like creating new emails and events. They save you having to open the app and select the calendar too. You can go straight to it.

Read a book, browse for more

Do you read ebooks on your phone? It is good to carry a few with you for those times when you have some time to fill and don’t want to work. I don’t know about you, but I often have a couple of books on the go and will read one then next time I will read the other. Press and hold on the Books app on the iPhone and it lists three recent books and enables you to search the Book Store for more books to read.

Hidden menu for the iPhone Books app
Long press the iPhone Books app for a hidden menu

Google Play Books is the equivalent app on Android phones and if you press and hold on the icon, a similar menu is displayed. Shop enables you to search for books, buy and download them. Library shows the books you have added to your library. Then there are three recent books, with the top one being the one you are currently reading. Tap it to continue.

Hidden menu for the Play Books app on Android phones
Long press Play Books on Android for a hidden menu

There are other ebook apps of course, so if you use something else, press and hold on the icon and see if it shows a useful menu.

Create notes and more with OneNote

So far, the apps we have looked at are fairly similar on iPhone and Android phone, however, this is not always the case. OneNote on iOS has just one menu option and that is to view recent notes, which isn’t any different to tapping the icon and opening it. Press and hold on the Android OneNote icon and you get a very useful menu though.

Hidden menu for OneNote on Android phones
Long press OneNote on Android for a menu

The hidden menu enables you to dive straight into common actions like creating a new page, creating a to-do list, inserting a photo or recording audio. These actions are very useful, so it is a shame the iOS app does not have them.

WhatsApp hidden menu actions

Sometimes the reverse is true and the iOS app has a great hidden menu full of useful functions, but the Android app does not. Press and hold on the WhatsApp icon on the iPhone for this hidden menu that enables you to search chats, start a new chat, take a photo or access your QR code.

WhatsApp hidden menu on the iPhone
Long press WhatsApp on iPhone for a hidden menu

The Android app has just two items, one to take a photo and one to open a recent chat. The iOS menu has more features.

Scan documents and whiteboards

Press and hold the OneDrive app on Android and there is no menu at all. Nothing, apart from system functions like removing the app. The OneDrive app on the iPhone is much better and there are a couple of useful functions, one to scan a whiteboard and another to scan a document. The scans are uploaded and stored on OneDrive.

Hidden menu for OneDrive on the iPhone
Long press OneDrive for a hidden menu

I have looked at just a handful of apps here to show the sort of hidden menus that are available. The quick actions available vary from app to app and some have few or even none, while other apps have very useful actions. There is no way of telling which apps have useful hidden menus and which don’t. You just have to try them all.

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