Common Android Gestures for Your Phone or Tablet

Knowing the basics will get you moving more quickly

Man swiping through pictures of his family on his smart phone.

wundervisuals / Getty Images 

Android devices can sense a variety of gestures, and in most cases, Android devices can sense multiple touches at once, known as multi-touch. Here's a list of common gestures you can use to interact with your phone. However, not every program uses every type of touch.

All of the gestures below should be equally available no matter which company makes your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

01
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Tap, Click, or Touch

Phone touchscreen

 Pixabay

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

02
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Double Touch or Double Tap

Android double tap screenshot

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

03
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Long Click, Long Press, or Long Touch

Android long tap screenshot

The long click is a gesture used often on Android mobile devices, although not as often as the simple (short) tap or click. 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, and 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 to rearrange icons on the Home screen.

04
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Drag, Swipe, or Fling

Android swipe screenshot

Slide your fingers along the screen to type or drag items from one screen location to another. You can also swipe between Home screens. The difference between a drag and a fling is in style. Drags are controlled, slow motions, where you do something on the screen, while swipes and flings are general flickings around the screen similar to the motion you'd use to turn a page in a book.

Scrolls are swipes or flings that you do 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 somewhere in the middle of the screen to refresh the contents in apps like Mail.

05
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Pinch Open and Pinch Closed

Android pinch screenshot

Using two fingers, either move your fingers closer together in a pinching motion or spread them further apart in a spreading motion. This is a universal way to adjust the size of something within apps, such as a photograph inside a web page.

06
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Twirl and Tilt

Android twist screenshot

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

07
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The Android Buttons

Android buttons screenshot

Many Android phones and tablets have hard 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.