The Best Android Tips You Should Be Using Right Now

Twenty ways to make your Android device better

There are many ways to customize an Android device and maximize performance. In addition to changing the look and feel of the interface, set up your smartphone so that autocorrect doesn't embarrass you, the right app launches when you need it, the battery lasts longer, and you never go over your data limit. There are also features that make the device easier to use and manage. Here are twenty tips to customize your Android phone and increase your productivity.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, though many are common across multiple versions of the operating system. These tips should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Keep Notifications at Bay

Having a smartphone means always being connected and reachable, but everyone needs quiet time and privacy. New in Android 8.0 is the ability to snooze notifications. Notification Dots appear on app icons, so you can see unread notifications by app, and view and dismiss notifications at any time.

Tap a notification to reschedule it for 15 minutes to two hours later. Take advantage of other notification features offered in Android Marshmallow and after, including Do Not Disturb, which blocks all notifications or only lets the most urgent ones through.

Snooze Android Notifications

Lose the Bloatware

Often, the only way to uninstall pre-installed apps is to root the phone. However, these apps can be disabled. Then, you won't get unnecessary notifications or updates that take up storage space. Learn how to conquer bloatware once and for all.

System App Remover on Android

Track Data Usage

If you don't have an unlimited data plan, you have to keep an eye on how much you use every month. Android makes it easy to keep track of data usage and set limits. To access these options, open the Settings app and go to the Wireless and Networks section. There are also third-party apps that track usage week-by-week or day-by-day.

Track data usage on Android

Reduce Data Consumption

Using too much data? Often, a phone may consume data in the background, which can be a big culprit. Open the Settings app and look at your data usage to see which apps use the most data. Then, turn off background data on the worst offenders. It's also a good idea to use Wi-Fi whenever possible. Learn more about cutting down on data usage.

Android Mobile Data Settings

Set Default Apps

When you click a link or open a photo on a new smartphone, you're prompted to choose which app to use and whether to use that app Always or Just Once. If you select Always and change your mind, set and clear default apps. Open the Settings and look under Applications. This shows which apps are set as defaults, and depending on the operating system you can either clear defaults all at once or one-by-one.

Android set default apps

Save Battery Life

There are many simple ways to save battery life. Reducing data usage is one fix, especially if you restrict the apps that are allowed to run in the background. Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you're not using them. There are also third-party apps available that can help conserve battery life.

Accubattery Android app

Gain Storage Space

Even with a memory card slot, an Android device can fill up fast if you download a lot of apps, snap a lot of photos, and take a lot of videos. To free up space quickly, delete unused apps, and move older photos and videos to the cloud or to a computer. Move as much data as you can to a memory card if the phone has one, then swap it out for an empty card when it fills up.

Android storage settings

Find the File Manager

On Android Marshmallow, access the Android file manager to delete and copy files and folders. The file manager shows how much storage is used and how much room is left. This is another easy way to make space on your smartphone since you can access files that are usually hidden away.

Android file manager

Try Some Widgets

Want at-a-glance weather information, quick access to music controls, or an overview of your appointments? Get all of this and more by adding widgets to the Home screen. Many apps offer one or more widgets of various sizes that offer top-line information, including those for fitness, productivity, messaging, navigation, and more.

Android widgets

Download a Launcher

One of the great things about Android is that if you don't like something about it, change it, and you don't have to root the device. An Android launcher is one such example. Use a launcher to manage apps, customize screens, and change the way you interact with the interface by adding gesture controls and more.

Android Nova Launcher

Move Your Data to a New Device

Setting up a new smartphone can be tedious, but it doesn't have to be. Android makes it simple to move contacts, apps, photos, and other data from one device to another. In some cases, you can use NFC, which is one of the fastest methods, and much preferable to paying a wireless carrier to do it. Be sure to back up your data too, just in case. New Pixel devices come with a cable for data transfer.

Android making backups

Take Screenshots

Whether you want to save a screen from your favorite game or a snippet from the web to share with friends, knowing how to take a screenshot is important. To take a screenshot, hold the Power/Lock button and the Home button. If the device has a soft key for the Home button, hold the Power/Lock and the Volume Down button.

Android screenshot settings

There's also a variety of third-party screenshot apps for Android that offer additional capabilities such as the ability to crop images, share screenshots, and add highlights and annotations.

Tether For Free

Using a smartphone as a mobile hotspot used to require an add-on plan from most carriers. Now, this feature is free in most cases, and when it's not, download a third-party app. Open the Settings app and look for the Tethering section. There you can enable the mobile hotspot feature, as well as Bluetooth and USB tethering. This uses mobile data.

Android hotspot settings

Stay on Top of Security

Android has had some high profile security issues, so it's important to be proactive about protecting devices. See our security guide, which includes eight important tips to keep you and your device safe. New to Android 8.0 is Google Play Protect, which continuously scans apps in the store to ensure they're legit.

Android security settings

Use Find My Device

Protect your privacy with the Find My Device feature (previously called the Android Device Manager), which enables you to track the device location and lock and reset it remotely. Resetting it means wiping the data from the device if you lose it permanently. You can also make your device emit a sound even if it's in silent mode if it is misplaced.

Google Find My Device on Android

Set Up Google Smart Lock

It can be annoying to constantly unlock a device when you're at home or at the office. Google Smart Lock (also known as Android Smart Lock) lets you personalize the settings so that your device stays unlocked in certain locations and situations. This way, if you spend the day on the couch, your device won't lock every time it goes idle.

Google Smart Lock on Android

Customize Your Lock Screen

There are plenty of options to customize the Lock screen. When you lock the screen, choose a method to unlock it: pattern, pin code, or password. You can also specify whether notifications appear on-screen and how much detail display. There are apps that offer even more options, including custom themes and the ability to display widgets.

Android customize lock screen

Install a Keyboard

If you use your smartphone to send messages, particularly for work, you need a great typing experience. There are many third-party keyboards available that make typing easier and more efficient, with built-in dictionaries and autocorrect. Many are free, and paid keyboards are usually no more than a few dollars. Test more than one to see which is right for you, then select that one as your default keyboard.

SwiftKey keyboard on Android

Improve Autocorrect

Speaking of autocorrect, tweak the settings so that you're not shaking your fist and shouting at your smartphone. Add your own lingo to the dictionary and let the keyboard learn from you so you're not constantly pressing the Delete key. On the other hand, disable autocorrect altogether if you don't want to use the feature.

Android custom autocorrect dictionary

Easily Root Your Smartphone

Rooting an Android device may sound intimidating, but it's not that difficult a process. The most important thing is to backup your data, then follow the rooting instructions closely and carefully. Unroot the device if you change your mind. 

Magisk root app on Android