HOW TO: Direct Dial Skype Contacts from Homescreen

radharose

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Jul 13, 2012
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As an Android user I feel a certain sense of entitlement when it comes to customization. It is my right as a smartphone user in this age of technology to customize my phone to satisfy my every capricious whim. Occasionally though, I find that there is some adjustment that I want to make to my phone that is seemingly impossible. The powers that be have decided that such a feature is unnecessary or irrelevant, and that they know better than I what features I need on my phone. I know there is some tyrant employed by every app producer whose sole purpose is choosing which extremely useful feature they are going to remove from the next update. When I encounter this I am filled with a sense of righteous indignation that I don't have utter control over my device and I go on the hunt for a solution.

The most recent of these such events proved somewhat challenging. My mobile phone provider charges exorbitant amounts for international calling (and the competitors are no better) so most of my calls are made over Skype. I hate having to open the app and navigate the interface to make a simple call. I was searching for a Direct Dial type shortcut for Skype calls and my efforts were turning up empty.

I immediately turned to my trusty mentor in all things Android: the internet. Today, however, the internet failed me. I couldn't find any apps that did what I was looking for. The one that came closest was Direct Dial with Skype. This is a decent app and gets the job done, but it is a widget, and I was not able to change the icon on my homescreen. This was not going to work for me, as I had several numbers that I wanted to Direct Dial, and I need different icons to easily tell them apart (not to mention I was searching for ultimate customizability). I returned to navigating the internet to solve my dilemma, torn between annoyance at this blatant lack of functionality and secret satisfaction at having a project over which to obsess.

I have used Any Cut before, so I sought it out again. The Skype menu had only a couple options though, and not the one I was looking for. I had to use the Make Your Own Shortcut feature, but I had no idea what intent and data to use. Another hour or more scouring the internet turned up a most blessed forum post by an angel named Martin that gave me my answers.


Following is a step-by-step guide on how to make homescreen shortcuts to:
-Call a Skype contact (Skype-call their username)
-Message/Skype-chat a Skype contact
-Call a contact's phone number using Skype (requires Skype credit or subscription)
-Message a contact using an application other than the default messaging app (I use TextFree to send free international SMS)
-Email a contact
-Combine all these actions into one folder for each contact for ease of use

NOTE: This is on Android Jelly Bean, but it should work on any version that the required apps support.




To create a shortcut to Skype Call a contact's Skype username:

1) Download Any Cut from the Android Market

2) Long-press your homescreen where you want to add the shortcut and select Shortcuts from the pop-up menu.
3) Select Any Cut from the next menu
4) Select "Make your own" from the Any Cut menu
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-11-27.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-12-32.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-12-52.png


5) In the "Action" field, enter the following text (case sensitive): android.intent.action.VIEW
6) In the "Data" field, enter the following text, but replace userid with the username of your Skype contact. skype:userid?call
Tip: make sure you enter their username, which is not necessarily the same as their display name.
7) Leave the "Type" field empty
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-22-08.png

8) Press OK

9) In the "Edit Shortcut" menu, name your shortcut with whatever description you would like to show on the homescreen and press OK.
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-22-44.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-25-30.png
You will now have a little green android on your homescreen which, when pressed will begin a Skype call to the username that you indicated in the preceding steps. Congratulations!



To Skype Chat a contact's Skype username:

Tip: Steps 1 - 5 are the same as steps 1 - 5 above

1) Download Any Cut from the Android Market

2) Long-press your homescreen where you want to add the shortcut and select Shortcuts from the pop-up menu.

3) Select Any Cut from the next menu

4) Select "Make your own" from the Any Cut menu


5) In the "Action" field, enter the following text (case sensitive): android.intent.action.VIEW
6) In the "Data" field, enter the following text, but replace userid with the username of your Skype contact. skype:userid?chat
Tip: make sure you enter their username, which is not necessarily the same as their display name.
7) Leave the "Type" field empty
Screenshot_2013-08-31-05-10-34.png

8) Press OK

9) In the "Edit Shortcut" menu, name your shortcut with whatever description you would like to show on the homescreen and press OK.
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-22-44.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-25-30.png

You will now have a little green android on your homescreen which, when pressed will begin a Skype chat to the username that you indicated in the preceding steps. Congratulations!



To call a contact's phone number using Skype (requires Skype credit or a Skype subscription):

Tip: Steps 1 - 5 are the same as steps 1 - 5 above

1) Download Any Cut from the Android Market

2) Long-press your homescreen where you want to add the shortcut and select Shortcuts from the pop-up menu.

3) Select Any Cut from the next menu

4) Select "Make your own" from the Any Cut menu


5) In the "Action" field, enter the following text (case sensitive): android.intent.action.VIEW
6) In the "Data" field, enter the following text, but replace phonenumber with the phone number of the contact you want to call. skype:+phonenumber?call
Tip: Make sure you include the plus sign(+) and the country code in front of the regular number. For example, a U.S. number (123) 456-7890 would be entered with the plus sign and the U.S. country code (1) in front: +11234567890. An Italian number would be entered with plus sign and country code (39) in front: +391234567890. And so on and so forth.
Screenshot_2013-08-31-05-14-35.png

7) Leave the "Type" field empty

8) Press OK

9) In the "Edit Shortcut" menu, name your shortcut with whatever description you would like to show on the homescreen and press OK.
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-22-44.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-25-30.png

You will now have a little green android on your homescreen which, when pressed will begin a Skype call to the phone number that you indicated in the preceding steps. Congratulations!





To message a contact using an app other than the default Messaging app:

1) Long-press your homescreen where you want to add the shortcut and select Shortcuts from the pop-up menu.
2) Scroll down the menu and select "Direct message" from the list.
3) Your contacts will appear in a list. Scroll through and select the contact you wish to Direct Message.
4) A little icon will appear on your homescreen with your contact's image (or lack thereof) and name. Tap this icon.
Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-11-27.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-32-17.png Screenshot_2013-08-30-22-35-15.png

5) A dialog window will open, asking you which app you want the phone to use to complete the action. It will display any apps that you have installed that are capable of messaging--in my case the default Messaging app, Whatsapp, Textfree and Skype. If you want one app to be the default messaging app for all your Direct messaging shortcuts, select that one (in my case Textfree), then select "Always". Otherwise, select the app you want to use, then select "Just Once".
Screenshot_2013-08-31-05-21-39.png

This is kind of a pain in the *** if you want to use direct message shortcuts for more than one messaging app, cause you have to choose which app to use every time. However, if you're using the default messaging app along with Whatsapp you can avoid this annoyance by keeping the stock Messaging app as default and following the nice easy guide embedded at the bottom of this post to create direct message shortcuts for Whatsapp.

You now have a shortcut to direct message your contact using alternate messaging apps. Congratulations!




If you want a shortcut to Direct Email a contact:

The easiest way I have found to do so is a nifty little app called xShortcut FREE. Just click the link to download it, then open it up and choose Direct Email. Follow the simple onscreen instructions and voil?! you have an email shortcut. Sweet.


To combine all these conveniences into an even more convenient folder:

So I now have all these convenient little shortcuts scattered across my screen. First I am going to change the icons so that they are easier to tell one from the other. I am doing this using Apex Launcher. You can use pretty much any launcher downloadable from the play store to customize your icons, or you can use an app such as Icon Changer.

Now that I have the icons all looking the way I want, I'm going to organize them into folders according to the contact that they belong to. You can do this by long-pressing a shortcut until you "grab" it, then just drag it over and drop it on top of another shortcut that you want in the same folder. Long-press and drag/drop the next icon onto the stack and repeat with all the shortcuts you want to put into the folder.
Screenshot_2013-08-31-04-17-44.png Screenshot_2013-08-31-04-19-21.png

Now you can see that I have all my shortcuts piled into folders, but the folder icon kind of creeps me out, the way that it is just a hole opened up in the wallpaper. This is especially creepy if I have a wallpaper that involves a person! So I'm going to long-press on the folder and assign it an icon that will tell me (in my mind) which contact it belongs to. This leaves plenty more space for other contacts on the screen. When you tap on the folder icon it will bring up all the new shortcuts that you just created and you can choose your preferred method of communication. :)
Screenshot_2013-08-31-04-40-04.png Screenshot_2013-08-31-04-40-12.png


I love tweaking my phone to work just the way I want it, and I hope this little long explanation has helped you to do so with yours. Many thanks to all the sites/apps that I linked to in this post.

-Rose ;)



Whatsapp shortcuts:
Create WhatsApp Contact Shortcut for Direct Chat on Android HomeScreen - YouTube
 

Family Gorges

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Apr 1, 2014
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Nice but this seems to not work anymore?!
Anycut has removed "Make your own shortcut" feature and self-made shortcuts created by other apps still having this are corrupt.
Even Launcher is crashing sometimes.
How did you manage now?
 

Nimesh Madhavan

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Jan 11, 2015
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Not entirely on topic, but I have released an app on Play Store which makes calling you Android contacts with Skype a breeze. Please search for "com.nimeshm.skydialer" on the play store to download it. Hope you find it useful!
 

MrGolden

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Dec 15, 2013
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This no longer works because the new version of AnyCut doesn't have the "Make your own shortcut" option. However, I was able to find an older version of the app at Any Cut 1.0.apk | Download free android apk files, which does have the option.

I'm using it successfully on Android Nougat. The only minor issue is that the app crashes if I attempt to edit a shortcut. For any changes, an existing shortcut has to be deleted then recreated. I don't consider that to be a deal-breaker :)
 

ycherio

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Sep 13, 2017
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Great write-up! Is there a way to use multiple contacts in one shortcut? e.g. I frequently call my parents and simply talk to the first who picks up. I tried specifying username1,username2 (comma separated) and username1+username2 (plus separated) but it didn't work. It opens up Skype call screen, rings for 1 second and then simply stops. I've got to believe there is a way to use multiple usernames

UPDATE. I believe I found the answer to my question here https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn745882. Essentially it is not possible on mobile platforms (see "Caveats" section).
 
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Mike-EEE

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Aug 1, 2018
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Wow what useful information, especially for someone that is a beginner learning about Android. I myself am interested in doing this for Google Voice Direct Messaging. It's been incredibly frustrating as even though a Google Contact has a Google Voice number listed, when "Text" is invoked, it tries to open the SMS application. It doesn't help that Google Voice cannot be set as the default SMS application.

FWIW, in my case the phone doesn't have a SIM card installed and we're using it as a simple device for the house. In any case, does someone know where the magic codes/keys/actions would be for Google Voice and/or Hangouts? I am also checking out Nimesh Madhavan's Sky Dialer... although we are primarily interested in texting, as well. Thank you in advance for any assistance!