The 15 Best Google Pixel Tips and Tricks

Get your phone to do even more than before

The Google Pixel is a popular line of phones with a rich set of features and powerful specs. We're pretty sure you love your Pixel but are you using it to its fullest potential?

There are lots of Google Pixel tricks that you might not be aware of. Things that are just a button away from being used but aren't an obvious feature unless you like to dig through your Pixel's settings.

Below are some of our favorite Google Pixel tips and tricks so that you can get the most out of your phone. Most of them work on every edition of the Pixel so even you original Pixel owners should find this list very useful!

Some of the features mentioned below require the latest Android operating system. Learn how to update your phone to the latest OS so that you're able to use more of these tips.

01
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Quickly Open the Camera

System, Gestures, Jump to camera screens on Pixel

If you’ve ever missed a moment to take a great photo because it took too long to unlock your phone and find the camera app, this tip is one you don't want to miss.

There’s a setting within your phone that, if enabled, will open the camera when you double-press the power/lock button. Whether you're on the lock screen or in an app, the camera will immediately take over to give you those extra couple seconds you need to quickly take a picture or start recording.

To enable this, go to Settings > System > Gestures > Jump to camera.

02
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Identify Songs Automatically

Google Pixel Now Playing feature

This Google Pixel trick lets you see what song is playing nearby without opening an app or even unlocking your phone. It's like having Shazam on your lock screen forever, even if you don't use Shazam.

What's neat about this feature is that it works entirely offline, so nothing is ever sent to Google and you can use it even without a data connection. From the settings is also a whole list of all the songs it's identified. You can even make a shortcut to this list on your home screen to have instant access at any time.

Enable this through Settings > Sound > Now Playing. Songs are displayed both on the lock screen and in the notification pull-down menu.

Unfortunately, the original Pixel (2016) can't identify songs in this way.

03
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Squeeze Your Phone to Trigger Google Assistant

System, Gestures, Active Edge screens on Google Pixel

Yep, that’s right. You can actually squeeze your phone to open Google Assistant.

The next time you need to make a reminder, look up something, send a message, or check the weather, just squeeze the bottom half of your phone to get started.

Go to Settings > System > Gestures > Active Edge to enable this feature. It's there that you can also adjust the squeeze sensitivity and make it work when your screen is off.

Squeeze functionality arrived with Pixel 2, so the original Pixel doesn't support this.

04
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Get Live Captions for Any Audio On Your Phone

Google Pixel live caption feature

Live Caption provides real time captions for audio playing on your phone. If you’re in a quiet place without headphones but you still need to know what’s being said, just turn down the volume on your phone and enable Live Caption to read what’s being spoken.

This works with everything but phone calls, music, and VoIP, so turn it on for live broadcasts, archived videos, podcasts, or anything else.

Enable Live Caption on your Pixel through Settings > Accessibility > Live Caption. On that screen is an option to show the Live Caption toggle on the volume control menu to make it much easier to turn on and off.

Live Caption was introduced with Android 10 and is for Pixel 2 and newer devices only, with the exception of a few other Android phones.

05
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Automatically Screen Incoming Calls

Google Pixel call screen settings

Google Pixel phones have a feature called Call Screen which will basically answer phone calls for you. When you enable it for incoming calls, you can see the conversation happening between Google Assistant and the recipient in real time.

To take this a step further, you can even automatically screen calls. Spam calls can be auto-screened or silently declined so that you're not even notified about them. You can also have first-time callers and/or private/hidden numbers screened.

Open the Phone app to take advantage of this Pixel tip. From the three-dotted menu at the top right, go to Settings > Spam and Call Screen > Call Screen for all the options.

06
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Never Run Low on Photo & Video Storage

Google Photos free up space option on Pixel

This is a really handy Pixel trick that works on other phones, too, but is especially useful for Pixel owners.

All your photos and videos can be backed up to Google Photos, but as great as that is, you shouldn't overlook the space-saving feature built-in to it. It will automatically erase all the images and videos on your device that are already safely backed up to Google Photos.

Here's what to do: tap Library at the bottom of the app, choose Utilities > Free up space, and then tap Free up <amount> to recover potentially a lot of space on your phone that you can then use for other things like music, apps, and more photos and videos.

The extra tip you get as a Pixel owner is unlimited storage for all your photos and videos. This means you can take literally as many as you want, and store them all in your Google Photos account to never run low on local phone storage. As long as you use the Free up space button, you never have to use your phone's storage to hold your pictures and videos.

The only catch is that depending on what Pixel model you have, you might be limited to uploading only high quality media files instead of original/full resolution ones. You can check the current limitations here.

07
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Take Professional-Quality Portraits

Google Pixel Portrait mode and Blur settings

You already know that your phone's camera is one of the best out there, but a Pixel trick you might not be utilizing is Portrait mode.

Before you take a picture, slide over to Portrait. After it saves, your phone will automatically blur out the background of the subject, whether it's a selfie or a photo you took of someone or something else.

You can even do this with other pictures saved in Google Photos (if it features a person) and pictures that you didn't use Portrait mode on. Just use the edit button to adjust the Blur setting.

08
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Create App-Specific Shortcuts

App shortcuts on Google Pixel

Some apps have quick-access functions that you can open with a brief press-and-hold on the app’s icon. Try it with your camera and you’ll see a shortcut to take a video or a selfie.

This is extremely handy if you find yourself using an app for the same purpose over and over, like to open a playlist in your music app or to compose a new email. Just open this little menu to jump right to the function you want. You can also drag the shortcut onto the home screen to speed things up even more.

Try it on any app you have to see if there’s a quicker way to get places. YouTube, Shazam, Messages, banking apps, Phone, Settings, Twitter, Maps, and web browsers are just a few examples.

09
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Take Better Low-Light Photos With Night Sight

Google Pixel Night Sight example

Night Sight is a photography feature built-in to all Pixel devices that's basically "flash without the flash." It improves photos taken in low light, but you don't need to use a flash to make it work.

When you're ready to take a picture, tap Try Night Sight (if you see it) or swipe over to the Night Sight mode. After pressing the shutter button, wait a few seconds for the photo to finalize.

Learn how to use Night Sight on your Pixel for all the details.

10
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Silence Notifications When You Put Your Phone Down

System, Gestures, Flip to Shhh screens on Google Pixel

This is an awesome Google Pixel trick that enables Do Not Disturb mode if you lie your phone face down. If the screen is showing, you'll get notifications, but if it's not, everything will be silenced.

You can still toggle Do Not Disturb manually; this tweak just lets you do it hands-free at a moment's notice.

This is system gesture setting, so go to Settings > System > Gestures > Flip to Shhh to turn it on.

11
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Enable Dark Mode for Your Pixel

Settings and Display screens on Google Pixel

There's a global dark mode setting that you can turn on to make most of your Pixel use a black theme. This includes menus, the background of notifications and folders, Google Assistant, and lots of apps, even third-party ones.

Go to Settings > Display > Dark theme to toggle this tweak.

Any Pixel running Android 10 has access to the Dark theme.

12
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Use a VPN for Open Wi-Fi Networks

Network & internet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi preferences screens on Pixel

Auto-connecting to networks you're not familiar with isn't usually a good idea. You risk your privacy and security when you connect to unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks.

Pixel users, however, can not only turn on auto-connections for public Wi-Fi hotspots but simultaneously pair it with a VPN managed by Google.

Using public Wi-Fi networks reduces your data usage, and VPNs help to secure your connection so that you can safely use your phone like you would at home.

To turn this on, go to Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi preferences, and enable Connect to open networks.

This is an important Pixel trick that everyone should utilize. It works on Pixel and Nexus devices running Android 5.1 and newer, but only in select countries like the US, Canada, Mexico, and a few others.

13
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Take a Picture With Your Voice

Google Assistant take a selfie command

When you don't have someone on standby to take a picture, and you'd rather not pull out your selfie stick, countdown photos are the way to go. This Pixel trick uses Google Assistant to take pictures, and it's pretty awesome.

Just say OK Google, take a picture, or OK Google, take a selfie, to start the countdown. You'll have three seconds to position yourself or your group for a hands-free photo.

14
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Lock Down Your Phone in Seconds

Google Pixel Display and Lock screen display screens

You already know that pressing the power button once will lock your phone. What you might not know is that there's a feature on your Pixel called Lockdown that does even more.

When you enable Lockdown, it turns off Smart Lock, disables biometric unlocking, and suppresses all notifications on the lock screen.

You might do this if you feel someone might soon force you to give up your phone. You can't be coerced to provide your fingerprint because the fingerprint sensor is disabled, and messages and other sensitive information aren't display on your lock screen.

Enable Lockdown in Settings > Display > Advanced > Lock screen display > Show lockdown option. To use it, just press-and-hold the power button and then tap Lockdown. Everything will go back to normal after you enter the passcode.

15
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View Notifications With the Fingerprint Sensor

System, Gestures, Swipe fingerprint screens on Pixel

Controlling your phone with one hand can be difficult, but this Google Pixel trick can help. Instead of stretching your finger to the top of the screen to view notifications, all you have to do is swipe the fingerprint sensor on the back of your phone.

Simply swipe down on the sensor to view notifications, and swipe up to close them.

If your phone has a fingerprint reader, enable this trick here: Settings > System > Gestures > Swipe fingerprint for notifications.