I’d been wanting a quick and easy way to compose a new email. I tried my hand at whipping up a simple program that just installed a homescreen shortcut, but ran into namespace issues and didn’t feel like putting more than an hour into it.

A few days later while messing around with my homescreen shortcuts/widgets and discovered how to use the Custom Shortcuts option available in some aftermarket launcher programs such as ADW Launcher and LauncherPro. I’ve been running CyanogenMod 6 (based on Android 2.2/Froyo) for about a month now, which includes ADW, so my screenshots and examples will reflect that.

Any Android hacks you’d like to share in the comments?

How to Create a “New Email” Shortcut (Google Doc)

On the homescreen and either long-press on empty space or hit Menu, Add:

Select “Custom shortcut” from the list:

Select “Pick your activity”:

Select “Activities” (this displays a list of all activities for every installed program):

Tap “Gmail” in the list:

Sift through the various activities available within the messaging app to find “Compose(.ComposeActivityGmail)”:

Once you have selected the activity, it will return you to the Custom shortcut dialog. Enter a name, if you don’t like the default, that will display on the homescreen (you can also change the icon by touching the default icon.)
Hit “Ok” when you are done:

Huzzah! You’ve added a Custom Shortcut

These instructions relate to semi-stock Android 2.2 your mileage may vary. You can also do the same for pretty much any other application that has a “Compose…” or “Edit…” activity. I was able to create a New Gmail, New Event, and New Tweet shortcut, just had to hunt the right activity down in the list (though this didn’t work for the default messaging application).