(Note that most of the possibilities on this page require Android 11 or higher to work. That means if you’re still hangin’ onto a first-gen Pixel phone, they won’t be available for you, unfortunately. But don’t despair. You can still find lots of other worthwhile goodies in my Pixel Academy!) We’ll start with a simple but supremely helpful feature for copying text from practically anywhere in a snap. You can use it to snag words from something like a web page or a document, sure, but you can also use it to highlight and copy anything from within an image, a screenshot you’d previously saved, or even an area of Android that wouldn’t typically let you select and copy text — like a specific screen within the system settings, for instance.
Today, we’re gonna zoom into an especially possibility-packed part of the Pixel’s software setup, and that’s the Android Overview area. The simple-seeming interface for switching between recently used apps is overflowing with advanced actions on a Pixel phone, and once you discover (or maybe just remind yourself) what’s there, you’ll be saving time and flyin’ around your phone like nobody’s business. So as a supplement to my popular Pixel Academy e-course — a totally free seven-day email adventure that helps you uncover tons of next-level Pixel treasures — join me for this tour of outstanding and out-of-the-way Pixel Overview gems. Check ’em out, try ’em out, and then come sign up for the course for even more super-practical Pixel awesomeness.
Whatever the case may be, all you’ve gotta do is open up your Pixel’s Overview interface — by swiping up an inch or so from the bottom of the screen and then stopping, if you’re using Android’s current gesture system, or by tapping the square-shaped button at the bottom of the screen, if you’re still holding onto the old legacy three-button nav setup — and then press and hold your finger onto the words you want within the view of your most recently used app (or any other app in your current history).
In addition to copying and pasting text from anywhere, the Pixel’s Overview interface allows you to share text and send it directly into other apps and processes on your phone. It’s an even easier way to beam the info you need directly to the place where you want it, especially if the final destination is a new email, note, or message (as sharing will typically place the info in question into a new item instead of a draft you were already working on). Performing this feat is quite similar to pulling off our first bit of Pixel sorcery: Once more, you’ll open up the Overview interface and then press and hold your finger onto whatever text you want to copy within the preview of any recently used app. The only difference is that this time, you’ll select “Share” from the menu that comes up, then select whatever app you want to send the text to from there.
As long as your phone is running Android 11 or higher, you should see the text in question get selected. And you can then slide your finger around as needed to expand or refocus the selection. If you want to select all of the visible text on the screen, you can also use the relatively new “Select” command at the bottom of the Pixel Overview interface. Either way, once your text is selected, all that’s left is to hit the “Copy” command in the menu that comes up and then do a spritely little jig of celebration.* At that point, you can head into any other app or process you want — an in-progress email draft, a messaging app, or perhaps a note-taking tool of some sort — and press your finger down in any text editing field to pull up the “Paste” command and send your freshly copied contents wherever they need to be.
If what you require is context, you can also select “Search” instead of “Share,” and your Pixel will send the text into a new Google Search instance faster than you can say “Aw, shucks, Siri sucks.” Here’s a Pixel power you’d probably never know existed: If you highlight some text within your Pixel phone’s Overview interface that isn’t in your native tongue, your phone will automatically offer to translate the text on the spot for you.