5 hidden tricks to try on your Android phone

5 hidden tricks to try on your Android phone

1. Bring back lost notifications

Notification log

Bring your notifications back from the dead with the Widgets menu.

It happens—you accidentally swiped away one of the notifications that you wanted to read fully and now you have a nagging sense someone emailed you, but are not sure. If you want to review all of your recent notifications on Android, you’re in luck. This ability is possible—though the option isn’t easy to find.

Tap and hold on an empty part of the home screen, and a screen-adjusting mode will pop up. Choose Widgets, and find the Settings shortcut. Drag this icon to an empty space on one of your home screens and drop it in place, and a list will automatically pop up. Choose Notification log from the list and tap the icon to open up Android’s notification history.

2. Activate one-handed mode

One-handed mode

This keyboard tweak makes your phone easier to use one-handed.

As today’s phones continue to grow in size, they become harder and harder to operate one-handed. So Google’s custom keyboard, which is the default option on certain Android phones, has a solution: A special one-handed mode that you can switch to with a simple shortcut. If you own a Pixel or Nexus device, this keyboard will be your default typing option. If you’re on a Samsung or LG phone, you’ll have to first download Google’s version and set it as your default keyboard (as demonstrated in tip 8).

Open up the keyboard as normal and tap and hold on the comma key. Drag up to the right-hand icon to enable one-handed mode. The arrow lets you switch this smaller keyboard from side to side, the bottom icon lets you reposition it, and the top icon restores the full-size keyboard. Other phone keyboards may also have one-handed modes, but they can be harder to access than Google’s. Try looking up your phone model and searching “one-handed keyboard” to learn more.

3. Lock phone borrowers inside one app

Screen pinning

What happens when you want to lend a friend or young family member your phone, but don’t want them rooting through your private information or posting to your social media accounts? Screen pinning lets you be generous without giving up your privacy. Pinning one app to the screen means that your phone will only run that app until someone enters the lock screen code again. Essentially, the user won’t be able to access any other parts of your phone without your code.

Screen pinning is easy to set up. Open Settings, go to the Security menu, and enable screen pinning. Once you’ve turned on the feature, launch the app your friend needs to use. Then open Overview by tapping the square navigation button below the phone screen. On the window for the most recently opened app, you should see a pin icon (it looks like a little thumbtack) in the lower right-hand corner. Tap the pin button to pin that app to the screen.

4. Make text and images more visible

Display size

More text and less images, or viceversa? On Android you can choose.

If you’re struggling to see what’s on the screen—or, alternatively, if you want to cram as much content as possible onto the display and don’t mind doing a bit of squinting along the way—you can zoom in or out on text and objects. Not all the apps will respond to these adjustments, but most of them will.

To change size settings, open the Android Settings app and go to the Display heading. From the Display menu, tap the Font size link to change the default font size. Select the Display size link to make on-screen objects larger or smaller.

5. Run apps side-by-side

Split screen

Multitask like a pro using two apps side-by-side.

One of the new features added in Android 7.0 Nougat is the option to run apps side-by-side or one above the other. This view comes in handy when you want to display photos, optimize your social networking, or multitask, although it’s a bit too laggy for gaming.

To set it up, tap the Overview button (the square icon below the screen to the left), and choose which of your recently used apps you want to see. Hold and drag it to the top or left of the display, then choose another open app to appear alongside or under it.

And since we’re already talking about the Overview button, here’s a pro tip: Double-tap rather than single-tap it to quickly switch between the two apps you’ve been using most recently.

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