Common Android Gestures for Your Phone or Tablet

Knowing the basics will get you moving more quickly

Android devices can sense a variety of gestures, along with multiple touches at once (known as multi-touch). Here's a list of common gestures you can use to interact with your Android phone.

These gestures are available on most Android devices, regardless of manufacturer and software version. However, not every phone, version, and app uses every type of touch.

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Tap, Click, or Touch

Phone touchscreen


Programmers know this as a click rather than a tap because the coding refers to it as onClick(). However you refer to it, this is the most basic interaction and is performed with a light touch of your finger. Use this for pressing buttons, selecting things, and tapping keyboard keys.

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Double Touch or Double Tap

Android double tap

This gesture is also called double click. This is similar to the double click of a computer mouse. Rapidly touch the screen, lift your finger, and touch again. Double-taps are often used to zoom in on maps or to select items.

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Long Click, Long Press, or Long Touch

Android long tap

Long pressing is touching an item and pressing for a few seconds without sliding your finger.

Long presses on application icons in the system tray allow you to move them to the desktop. Long presses on widgets allow you to move or adjust the size. Long touches on the old desktop clock allowed you to remove it. Generally, the long press is used to display a contextual menu when the app supports it.

A variation is the long-press drag. This is a long press that allows you to move objects that would ordinarily be harder to move, such as rearranging icons on the Home screen.

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Drag, Swipe, or Fling

Android swipe

Slide your fingers along the screen to type or drag items from one screen location to another, or to swipe between Home screens. The difference between a drag and a fling is in style. Drags are controlled, slow motions with which you do something on the screen. Swipes and flings are general flicks around the screen, like the motion used to turn a page in a book.

Scrolls are swipes or flings with an up and down motion rather than side to side.

Drag from the top or bottom edge of the screen into the middle of the screen to open menus in many programs. Pull downward (drag or fling) from the top area of the screen to the middle of the screen to refresh the contents in apps such as Mail.

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Pinch Open and Pinch Closed

Android pinch

Move two fingers close together in a pinching motion, or spread them farther apart. This is a universal way to adjust the size of something within apps, such as a photograph inside a web page.

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Twirl and Tilt

Android twist

Twirl two fingers to spin selected objects in some programs. A two-fingered drag often tilts 3D objects within apps such as Google Maps.

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The Android Buttons

Android buttons

Many Android phones and tablets have buttons, though they're not physical buttons anymore.

A common arrangement is a Home button in the center with an Overview and Back button on either side. The arrangement might be slightly different based on your device, but the general idea is standardized on Android now.

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