Is it possible to create create a launcher icon that will start a certain streaming video URL in an app registered to the specific media type? (or offer the app chooser menu, in case there are multiple apps matching the content filter).

In my case it is a M3U playlist URL pointing to a DASH stream and I would like to open it directly in a default app for the content type (i.e. mxplayer).

I am aware that it is possible to create a launcher shortcut from Chrome or other browser via Add To Desktop option, but in this case tapping the launcher will open the web browser first and then will redirect to whichever app can handle the content type. Can this be done in a way that does not require a web browser?

In broader terms, the question is how to create a launcher to a URL or local file that can be tapped from the desktop and would open in whatever app(s) can handle the content type?

  • Do you know the URL for sure? If yes, you can use Tasker to feed that URL as data when launching your video player. Further, you can use the Tasker widget to launch that task from desktop. You can alternatively send an intent that could show the apps in a bottom sheet to launch the URL.
    – Firelord
    Dec 8, 2018 at 17:17
  • yes, i know the exact url, but tasker afaik is a paid app, and apart from that i want to avoid running a dedicated service for that; basically I'm looking for an easy way to get a launcher which will start the intent with the correct arguments without me having to manually edit it
    – ccpizza
    Dec 8, 2018 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


Stock android does not offer the possibility of creating custom desktop shortcuts since that's something handled by the launcher which is just an app like any other. While some launchers do offer to option to create buttons for any activity (e.g. Nova and others) they don't currently have the option of setting additional arguments for the shortcuts such as URLs or file names.

After trying half a dozen of apps from the play store I have identified at least two apps which can create generic shortcuts which will keep working even after the apps are uninstalled: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=krow.dev.scheme.

With Intents the configuration that worked with VLC player is:

Other shortcut creation apps I tried register the shortcuts to themselves and therefore uninstalling them will also delete the shortcuts.

  • If there are many shortcuts like this, adding ACTIVITY_NEW_DOCUMENT flag in Intent app is needed to launch them independently (rather than bringing up previous instance of VLC with previous stream running in the background). Aug 7, 2021 at 10:06
  • Just out of curiosity, would it be possible save the url as a bookmark and call on that via intent/activity shortcut?
    – Arctiic
    Aug 8, 2021 at 18:12

If you have a file manager (I use ES File Manager version that can create shortcuts to the desktop, then it is possible to do what you ask.

  1. From ES File Manager, press the file, select More.


  2. Select Open As. A window appears with options. Choose either Audio or Video


  3. A new window will appear with the options to select the app to open the file with. Select Set as the default app, then select your favorite app for playing the m3u streams. The app will open and play the stream. Close the streaming app.


  4. Select again the file, click More followes by Add to Desktop.

  5. A shortcut will be created; clicking it will open the stream using the app selected during step 3.
  • 1
    ES File Manager registers the launcher it its own intent type, and it's not possible to create a launcher for a URL, only for a local file. I tried putting the streaming URL into an m3u or m3u8 file but then the launcher opens it in ES Managers's own audio player which is unable to play it.
    – ccpizza
    Dec 9, 2018 at 9:12
  • Remove the shortcut created that open using ES Manager's own audio player, then follow the steps included. Dec 9, 2018 at 10:07
  • the shortcuts are deleted if es explorer is uninstalled and apart from that the app is extremely intrusive, so not really a viable/safe option for me
    – ccpizza
    Dec 9, 2018 at 10:08
  • You can choose another app to create shortcuts. Yes the shortcut(s) will be deleted if the app is removed Dec 9, 2018 at 10:10
  • As mentioned in my answer there are some apps which will create 'app-independent' shortcuts which will keep working even after the apps are uninstalled.
    – ccpizza
    Dec 9, 2018 at 14:54

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