4 Tips & Tricks Every Android User Needs to Know

Ben Stegner 17-02-2015

Android is an awesome mobile operating system Android Only: 10 Apps That Aren't Available on IPhone or IPad The iPhone used to be home to all the best exclusive apps, but times have changed. Now we're taking a look at ten of the best Android-exclusive apps out there. Read More , but feeling lost while using it is completely understandable. To make sure you’re not alone, we’ve written a guide for absolute beginners New To Android? Make Your Smartphone Work For You, Not Against Do you have a smartphone that you just can't seem to figure out? Learn the basics and start conquering your Android phone now! Read More detailing how to get a grip on your device, and a sequel New To Android? Part Two: Master Using Your Phone Part two of the Android guide for absolute beginners. Get a grip on the basics of using your smartphone! Read More ensuring you’ve mastered all the basics.


If you’re ready to move onto some more tips for your Android device, you’ve come to the right place. Today we’ll cover some beginner-level tricks; while they might not be as obvious or essential to daily use as what’s been covered in the other posts, they’ll give you even more control over your device. Let’s begin!

Control Your Default Apps and Notifications

When you open a link on Android, if you have multiple apps that can handle it, you’ll have to choose which one you’d like to use. This pop-up includes two choices: Just Once and Always. Choosing the former means you’ll be asked next time you try to open a similar link, while the latter sets that app as default for those kind of links.

Let’s take an example. Say you have multiple Twitter apps on your phone, and you click on a link to a tweet. That link can be opened in your Chrome browser by taking you to the mobile webpage, but it can also be opened in the official Twitter app or any others you have installed. If you only use the alternative Twitter app, it makes sense to set it as default.


Once you click Always (it does happen by accident!), you won’t be asked next time you try to open a link like that. Should you need to clear that app due to a mistake, just head to Settings > Apps > [App Name] and choose Clear Defaults to reset your choice.


While you’re here, you can also clear the Show Notifications box if you’d prefer not to be notified by an app at all. Notification ads are easily removed How to Block Popup Ads on Android Seeing annoying popups on your phone? Here's how to stop popup ads on your Android phone browser, apps, and notification shade. Read More if you suspect a problem.


You can change your choices as many times as you’d like. For some apps, such as your favorite browser 5 Android Browsers That Are a Cut Above the Rest While there are many browsers on the Google Play Store, only a few provide an overall great experience. Read More , you probably won’t have to change the default often. Others, though, may have you change your mind more frequently.

Mihir has covered an alternative solution to app defaults How to Remove, Change, and Set Default Apps in Android Here's everything you should know about setting and adjusting default apps on Android, including changing how links open. Read More if you’re dissatisfied with how Android handles it natively.


Make Changes to Your Apps on the Play Store

Google Play is the place to get all kinds of apps for your Android; we’ve shown you some essential ones for newcomers New Android Phone? Here Are The 4 Apps You Must Install Right Away Were you the lucky recipient of a new Android phone over the holidays? If you were, you are in for a real treat. Read More if you need some suggestions. Out of the box, though, Google Play exhibits a few behaviors you might find irritating. Here’s how to fix them.

First, you might notice that apps automatically update without you having to explicitly tell them to. Since keeping everything up to date keeps you safe Why Do Apps Nag Me to Update & Should I Listen? [Windows] Software update notifications seem like a constant companion on every computer. Every app wants to update regularly, and they nag us with notifications until we give in and update. These notifications can be inconvenient, especially... Read More , it’s wise to leave this enabled so your apps don’t become horribly outdated. However, some may be concerned about these updates using their data plan or otherwise object to the practice.

If you want to take on the responsibility for updates, open the Play Store on your phone and tap the slide-out menu in the top left, followed by Settings. In this menu, you can turn auto updates off completely, enable them on WiFi only, or let them run at any time. The WiFi option is probably the wisest choice, but it’s up to you.



These settings also hold some other options you should examine. The Add icon to Home screen option automatically adds shortcuts to your launcher Which Android Launcher Should You Use? We Compare the Best! These awesome launchers will have your Android device feeling brand new. Read More every time you install an app; this is annoying, and you’ll probably want to disable it.

Finally, the Require authentication for purchases option will force you to enter your Google account password whenever you buy an app. You can choose it to ask every half-hour, every time, or never. Since in-app purchases What Are In-App Purchases & How Can I Disable Them? [MakeUseOf Explains] "I can’t believe it!" my cousin said to me the other day, "someone’s just bought a $10 in-app purchase on my mother’s phone, and she doesn’t even know what I’m talking about!". Sounds familiar? How... Read More are so rampant and mistakes happen, setting this to 30 minutes is a good idea.


Shut Off Autocorrect

Autocorrect is essential on most Android devices, as typing on a tiny keyboard doesn’t lend itself well to accuracy. The best keyboards MakeUseOf Tests: What Is The Best Android Keyboard? In this follow-up to our post from 2011 featuring 6+ fantastic Honeycomb keyboards, I’d like to take a good hard look at four of the most popular and well-regarded sliding keyboard. Call it a “keyboard... Read More all implement autocorrect with varying degrees of success, but sometimes you don’t want your phone to assume it knows what you mean. For those times when you’re just jotting down notes Better Than a Notepad: The 3 Fastest Ways To Jot Down Notes on Android Whether you need to jot down ideas for your next project or items you want to pick up at the store, it's always good to have something ready for taking notes. Many people carry around... Read More or practicing your typing accuracy, you can easily turn off auto-correction.


Using the stock Google keyboard, head to Settings > Language & Input > Google Keyboard > Text Correction > Auto-correction and you can set it to Off. If you’d like, you can also make it more aggressive here.


Other keyboards How To Choose The Best Android Keyboard For Your Own Needs If there’s one reason to pick Android over any other type of smartphone, it would be customizability. Whether you’re looking for different kinds of apps, themes, or ROMs, you’re always just one click away from... Read More , like SwiftKey or Swype, will be different and may not even allow for autocorrect to be turned off since it’s the backbone of their service.

Take a Screenshot

In nearly every article about Android we write, you see plenty of screenshots to accompany the text. Screenshots are extremely useful for illustrating an issue you’re having or for capturing a funny moment, perhaps in a text message or on Facebook.

Thankfully, in recent versions of Android, the action for taking a screenshot has been simplified. Just push Power + Volume Down at any time to take a picture of what’s on the screen. It will be saved to your Gallery; from there you can send it to a friend or post it online.


This combination might not work for you if you’re on an older Android device. Hopefully not many people are using outdated phones, but if you’re having trouble taking a screenshot, see Chris’ guide for multiple workarounds The 5 Best Ways to Take a Screenshot on Any Android Phone We show you how to take a screenshot on Android. Choose between default shortcuts and apps to capture your Android phone. Read More .

Feel Like an Expert?

It takes lots of time to learn Android and become comfortable with how it works. Mastering these tips is another step on your journey to becoming an Android expert; make sure to share this list with a friend who’s just starting out too!

We have even more resources available if you’re a novice looking for knowledge. Check out what to do right away with a new phone 5 Things You Should Do With A New Android Phone Small features can make all the difference in day-to-day use and cool apps will tailor the device to your needs. Read More , as well as the best apps for any user The Best Android Apps on the Google Play Store for 2019 Looking for the best Android apps for your phone or tablet? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for Android. Read More .

What other questions do you have about using Android? Did these tips answer any of your questions? Leave a comment if you’re a newer user and let me know where you’re at!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Simranjit Singh
    March 12, 2015 at 7:23 am

    How can I change font style of Lava iris fuel50? Please help me.

  2. Denise Gabbard
    February 19, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I've made the Android twitter app default....but it still takes me to a log - in screen (that even says install Twitter app)... annoying when I am trying to follow a bunch of people from a Facebook group. Anybody help?!

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Are you saying that when you click on a Twitter link inside an app, it opens up your browser with a Twitter log-in page?

      If this is so, try finding your browser and clearing its defaults. That may be your problem.

  3. Shelley
    February 19, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Is there any way to use an Android device as a hearing amplifier. I have a couple of applications call "Hearing Aid," but the latency (delay) between the spoken word and the earbud gives me delayed sound and overlapped hearing.

    I know it's possible, because I have a RadioShack amplifier that has ZERO latency. How can I get this with my Android device.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      I haven't looked into any apps or ways to do this, but let me look around and maybe we could turn this into an article!

  4. Althea Day
    February 19, 2015 at 12:07 am

    I think I could just plug speakers into the jack.

  5. Russell
    February 18, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    For rank beginners this article might be OK, but for those who already have a number of apps on their phone (and that happens pretty quickly) I can't agree that automatically installing updates is always a good idea -- for one reason -- app developers often want change for changes sake, with some new versions working less well than older ones; and these new versions often expect people to only have their apps installed -- new versions of Google apps are often HUGE, resulting in the need to move other apps if one is to have these new versions -- me, I go for "equivalent" apps from non-Google sources whenever I can, as these are often smaller, permitting me to have a "more functional" device, capable of doing a broader range of tasks.

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 12:01 am

      This is a good point, but I do remind you that this article was specifically pointed at beginners. While frequent updates might be annoying and take up extra space, for a novice user the convenience of having their apps always up-to-date for greater security is more important in the long run.

  6. Althea Day
    February 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Hello. Helpful article. I'm interested in teeny tiny little speakers that have a great sound to go with an Android tablet. Any suggestions?

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Are you looking for a Bluetooth speaker you can use wirelessly or speakers you can plug into your headphone jack?

  7. shane
    February 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you for all your tips. I do have a question: The Battery Doctor app keeps reminding me of all the apps running and asking if i want to "optimiza now" i say yes and x number of apps are closed. However the apps seem to restart all the time. So what good is the B. Doctor app?

    • Ben S
      February 19, 2015 at 12:00 am

      I haven't used Battery Doctor, but often apps that want to "optimize" all the time are more harm than good. Check out Joel's article on these apps for a better explanation.


      In short: I'd stop using that app for a while and see if you notice a difference.

  8. Pam
    February 18, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I am so glad I found this information! I am new to all this and just received a Samsung tablet for Christmas. I am currently trying to figure out why my emails suddenly changed from showing the most recent on top, which is my preference, to what appears to be almost random. I am used to a PC and Outlook where I have control over most of the functions and appearance of the application.
    Your tips help me feel that I am not as lost as I have been. Thank you.

    • Ben S
      February 18, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      So glad I could help you, Pam! I hope you checked out the other Android beginner pieces I linked to in the beginning - they should prove useful for you, too.

  9. Muhammad Tehseen
    February 18, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Every Android Hardcore user know these stuff & maybe more than that

    • Ben S
      February 18, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Did you read the article? In the beginning, I explicitly stated that this article is for beginners and features basic tips. It isn't meant for "hardcore" users.

    • diablo135
      February 19, 2015 at 1:54 am

      I wish I was Muhammed Tehseen. He is sooooo cool and hip

  10. Roxy
    February 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Screen shot-for my Note4, power + volume does nothing but lower my volume. I have to use power + home for screen shot. Same for Galaxy 3.

    • Double
      February 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm

      I had the same problem, until I read on a different web site that you have ot hold the combination for a second. That worked

  11. Zhong
    February 18, 2015 at 4:19 am

    I assume there's not a way to hide an app from appearing in your home launcher?

  12. Wayne S
    February 18, 2015 at 2:21 am

    I have a Note 4 and I have to use powerbutton and menu button for screen shot! Did so on Note 3 also.

  13. Charles
    February 18, 2015 at 12:55 am

    my motorola screen goes blank while I'm talking on the phone why can't I tip it down and the screen come back on?

    • Ben S
      February 18, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      That's a normal function (the screen goes out when it senses it's close to your face). Try pressing a button or pulling it away from your face for a second. That should re-enable the screen during a call.

  14. Crepusculous
    February 18, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Try Fliktu for managing both your default apps and your share menu. Allows you to pick a default but also 'flick' your phone 'tu' make one off choices (did you see what they did there?!?

    It's an alternative to the alternative Mihir mentions in his article.

  15. Hyder
    February 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    unlike iPhone, how do i transfer installed apps to SD card.

  16. Bob Ashmore-Harris
    February 17, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    It's not just older devices that use an alternative key combination for screenshots. Most, if not all Samsung Galaxy Phones use the Home + Power/Lock Key for screenshots.

    • Ben S
      February 18, 2015 at 11:55 pm

      I figured Samsung devices used something different since they still have physical buttons most of the time. Thanks for the tip!

  17. likefunbutnot
    February 17, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    It's much, MUCH easier to push application installs out from the desktop to your new Android device, rather than manually selecting them via the Play store interface on your device. Sign in to on using your desktop or laptop and you can very quickly tell your phone or tablet to install a dozen apps in the time it takes to bring up one or two from the device itself.

    Swype for Android can synchronize user dictionaries between multiple devices.

    Many people don't know this, but Play Music and Play Books both allow uploads from outside Google's ecosystem. Uploaded content becomes available for streaming or viewing on any other device signed into your account that can access the service. And in the case of books, yes, Google keeps track of your reading progress.

    The stand-alone Amazon app for Android allows users to install purchases from Amazon's App Store.

    • Ben S
      February 17, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      All great tips! I love the app install push from the Web interface of the Play Store, because when I read about a cool new app to try I don't have to pull out my phone.

      SwiftKey also syncs your dictionary across devices using your Google account, which is awesome.

      I knew about the book uploads, but I didn't think it was an essential tip. It's great to be able to bring all your ebooks into one ecosystem, though.

      And I love the idea of Amazon's free app of the day, but it's usually junk, unfortunately.

    • likefunbutnot
      February 17, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      @Ben S, I specifically mentioned the Books and Music tips because many users seem to believe that the Google software represent bloatware.