How to Set Up Pixel 6 Phone Buttons

Choose between buttons and gestures to get around your phone

What to Know

  • Head into the Settings app and select Settings > Gestures to find a bevy of gesture-related options.
  • Once in the Gestures menu, tap on System Navigation to choose between gestures and a three-button navigation system.
  • Select 3-Button Navigation to activate the Go back, Home, and switch apps buttons.

This article explains how Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro users can switch between gesture-based and button-based screen and menu navigation.

How Do I Set Up the Navigation Buttons on a Pixel 6?

One of the biggest draws when it comes to the Pixel 6, and the Android ecosystem as a whole is the ability to customize it exactly to your liking. One critical change you can make is how you navigate through every screen, with gesture-based navigation or a more retro three-button navigation style being your two choices.

If you prefer the classic feel of three buttons at the bottom of every screen, the following is how you can activate it through Android's system menus.

  1. To switch to the three-button navigation method, begin by opening your Pixel 6's Settings app.

    Pixel 6 settings icon
  2. Once in the Settings app, select System > Gestures > System Navigation to access the Pixel 6's navigation options.

    Where to find the System option in the Pixel 6 settings app.
    Where to find the Gestures option in Android 12's Settings app.
    Where to find the System navigation option under Gestures in Android 12.
  3. From here, select 3-Button Navigation to enable the Go back, Home, and switch apps buttons. Once chosen, you will now have the classic three-button setup at the bottom of your screen.

    Where to choose between Gesture and 3-button navigation in Android 12.
    The three buttons are featured at the bottom of the main screen of a Pixel 6.

What Are the Three Navigation Buttons?

Despite a short time during the Android Pie era where Google removed them from the operating system, Android has almost always offered a three-button navigation system in some capacity. This classic method of getting around the smartphone's various screens and systems has gone through different iterations. The most recent versions have relegated it to an option rather than the system default.

Traditionally, the three buttons are Go back, Home, and switch apps. The three buttons work as follows:

  • Go back provides a quick option if you want to return to the previous menu or screen, rather than swiping from right to left when using gestures.
  • The home button is a way to get out of whatever app or menu you're currently browsing to head straight to the device's home screen, rather than having to swipe upwards from the bottom of the device.
  • Once tapped, the switch apps button would pull every active app you have open and organize them into a cascading line of windows. Since Android has long been capable of multi-tasking, this button allows you to quickly switch between apps or choose which ones to shut down with a quick upward swipe.

Once activated, the three navigation buttons typically remain at the bottom of the screen, regardless of which app is running.

Was this page helpful?