Android iPhone and iPad

The Best Way To Apply a Screen Protector To Your Phone Or Tablet

Aaron Couch 10-12-2012

how to apply screen protectorHave you ever seen someone’s phone with a giant bubble in the middle between the screen protector and the screen? Perhaps you’ve been that person or are trying not to be that person. Whether you have tried applying screen protectors before with unsatisfactory results or are about to apply one for the first time, this is the article for you to learn how to apply screen a protector – what to do and what not to do when installing it.


What I’ll do is show you what you’ll need, the method I chose and why I chose it and then a couple more methods that you might try which have also proven to work flawlessly.

What You’re Going To Need

how to apply screen protector

This somewhat depends on your method, and there are a few. Some people just slap the screen protector on and usually that’s what creates the bubbles. Regardless of what you decide to do, there are a few things you’ll always need for applying a screen protector.

  • Caseless phone/tablet.
  • Clean, non-dusty area.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Plastic credit card.
  • Tape.
  • Lots of patience.

Depending on your preference you can either use your fingers or a plastic card. I used a card, but others have found success using their fingers.  The screen protector I got actually came with an installation card, but I felt it was too small for the job.

how to apply screen protector without dust


The Best Way Is The “Tape Method”

At first I was a little hesitant to try this, but by the end I had a perfect installation and I highly recommend you do this method for your screen protector.

First, always be sure to line up the screen protector. You want to be sure that the correct side is down (usually indicated with blue lettering) and that the screen protector matches your phone to your standard.

how to apply screen protector without dust

how to apply screen protector without dust


Once you’ve positioned it correctly, add a piece of tape to the side with the tag facing the phone. Again this is the tag with the blue text and also the tag connected to the side you’re going to pull away first. Add three pieces of tape: one on each end and one in the middle.

how to apply scren protector ipad

There’s a pretty neat method of folding this tape under the phone. You want to do this to each piece individually and be sure that the tape is already partially stuck to the side of the phone. What you will do is hold the phone horizontally and flat on the surface and then quickly pull towards you. The tape will fold under and stick to the underside of the phone.

how to apply scren protector ipad


Next you’ll flip the screen protector and wipe both the phone and the screen protector surfaces once more. Then, you’ll begin installation.

how to apply scren protector ipad

When you pull the screen protector away, you don’t want to rip it all the way off at once. Let me repeat this: don’t rip it all off at once. Only remove it slightly and for the whole length (although you’re facing it sideways so one might argue it’s the width) of the screen protector. As you remove it, pull equally across and push, either with a card or your fingers, the adhesive side against the screen.

This is where the patience comes in – you don’t want to be too anxious to just get it done. Take your time, but once you’ve started the process also don’t stop.


The Best Way To Apply a Screen Protector To Your Phone Or Tablet 2012 12 02 07

Now you will have bubbles at first, but you can push those out with your fingers or a card – again, depending on your preference. To me, a card seemed to work much better. However, there’s a technique to this.

  • Push at an angle to the nearest outside edge
  • Start in the middle – those are the most difficult to remove

The Best Way To Apply a Screen Protector To Your Phone Or Tablet 2012 12 02 09

Now all you do is grab the second tag (red text) and pull the top layer of the screen protector back. Then look for and remove any last bubbles. There really shouldn’t be any except for the occasional one along the edge.

The Best Way To Apply a Screen Protector To Your Phone Or Tablet 2012 12 02 20

The reasons why I decided this was the best method:

  • Extra security with the tape.
  • The ability to line up the screen protector perfectly and catch any “mistakes” before applying it.

Two Alternative Methods

These two methods do work, but they have their risks which is why I don’t recommend them as much. Nonetheless, they’re still options.

The End To End Method

I didn’t particularly try this method, but it has been proven to work on several occasions. The idea and technique is very similar to the tape method. The only difference is that with this one you start either at the top or bottom of the phone (depending on your preference), peel the bottom layer off slightly – just enough to stick the screen protector to the phone.

Once it’s stuck securely, continue to pull the bottom layer down revealing more of the stick side of the screen protector as you simultaneously push with either your finger or a credit card. Just like the tape method, it is important that you do both at the same time. Then the rest is the same – push out the bubbles, peel off the top layer and you’re good.

The downside to this one (and the reason the tape method is the best) is you don’t have the assurance that the screen protector is secure on the phone. With three pieces of tape, it’s not likely to move, but with only a small section of the screen protector stuck to the phone, I could see it slipping if it wasn’t pressed firmly down.

The Water Method

This one is a bit different and I hadn’t heard of it until I saw this video, but it seems to work alright. You basically wet the microfiber cloth, ring it out and wipe down the phone. Leave any leftover water on the screen (note: make sure your phone is off before you wipe it down). Then you peel off the whole bottom layer of the screen protector and without touching the sticky side, wet it and shake off any excess water (obviously there will be some still on it as you apply it to the phone and the water actually helps prevent bubbles). You carefully start at the top and holding the sides of the screen protector, press down working your way from one end to the other.

Personally, although I’ve never tried this, I’m not to crazy about peeling off the entire protective layer and risking it to my finger prints, dropping it, or placing it on the phone incorrectly. But according to the YouTube video, this works.

Some Important Things To Remember

  • There are three layers to the screen protector.
  • Wipe down everything on your phone (can’t get it too clean for this).
  • Remove any exterior protective phone case
  • Line up the screen protector to the phone before installing


how to apply screen protector

That piece of paper above was what came with my screen protector. Although I know how to apply one, I honestly couldn’t figure out what this thing was telling me to do. No wonder so many people screw up – they have terrible instructions like this! But thankfully, there is the Internet that we can all go to for articles, photos and videos to help us figure this sort of thing out.

Again, the tape method is the best, primarily because of the additional security with the tape.

Have you found success with a certain method mentioned here? What about a certain method not mentioned? We’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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  1. Andy
    July 30, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Excellent tips.

  2. robin guilford
    November 5, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I always make sure I order a pack of 10 (usually someone is selling bulk on e-bay) that way u have about 5 attempts to make one fit and about 3 years of screen protector life (I reckon they last a year and a half or so)....your method here is brilliant, what always gripes me is some how and don't ask me how one spec of dust or a hair or something always gets on the screen some how in the 10 secs between cleaning the phone and applying the protector!! I can buy individual ones for my phone as high as £9 or so and 10 packs as low as £1.99 and they are similar quality hence I always buy the 10 pack....and usually (for the last 10 years or so anyway) I always manage to get 2 to fit brilliantly out of a 10 pack, best of luck everyone

  3. Janet
    October 28, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Looked promising but did not work.

  4. Janet
    October 4, 2016 at 4:43 am

    Botched up the first screen protector that came with the phone & it's taken me ages to get hold of another one. I was paranoid about mucking it up again & also couldn't follow the tiny instructions & the incoherent "English" - so headed for google. The TAPE METHOD worked - thank you! I am so grateful.

  5. George
    September 2, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Dude your awesome!
    The best tutorial ever! I have destroyed many screen protectors before to finally make it work. I can't thank you enough. After so many failures in the past, I've tried your tape method and worked! I found that the main cause of failure was dust.

  6. Ichigo
    June 6, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks man, got the best screen protector on in years with the selotape method.

    Only 1 tiny dust at the very bottom, which is not noticeable. But this is the best I've ever gotten down to.

  7. Anonymous
    July 8, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Val C. You "then" used, not you "than" used lol

    • Mr. Wizard
      September 7, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Really? OMG! A grammar Nazi strikes again...

  8. Val C
    March 11, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Worked great. Never had a single air bubble. I used 91% rubbing alcohol on a paper eyeglass wipe to clean the screen. Than I used a dry one to clean some more. Great article.

    • Anonymous
      July 8, 2015 at 1:43 am

      I had heard never use alcohol or paper wipes on a smartphone or tablet, thanks for being the Ginny pig proving that wrong ;)

  9. Ginger
    March 10, 2015 at 12:32 am

    Thank you Aaron, I just finished putting on a new screen protector per your method and am amazed that it came out perfectly! I have wasted 5 others trying to use the vague instructions that came with them and would get so frustrated with all the air bubbles left and edges that wouldn't stick. I am keeping your method for future reference. Again, thanks.

  10. Aditya Narayan Ray
    March 9, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you it worked wonderfully. I live in the city of Kolkata in India where you can get this done at any mobile accessories shop for some bucks. First I was thinking of going there to get get it done by experts but when I saw this article I changed my mind. I did exactly what you said and my phone looks beautiful. Thank you so much for your help. Best wishes for you and your family.

  11. nancy
    December 21, 2014 at 4:49 am

    I tried your tape method. It worked fabulously well!! Used it on a tablet. It came out perfect! Your video with instructions was super helpful. Had to remove a piece of dust by the edge. Lifted the protector and got the dust piece with one the pieces of tape I used to secure the protector to the screen for mounting, used the card to secure it back down and eliminate bubbles. Great method.

    Thank you for sharing! I no longer dread applying a screen protector. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Happy holiday.

  12. Alex Perkins
    December 16, 2012 at 1:53 am

    Thanks, bubbles on a screen drive me nuts.

  13. Brenden Barlow
    December 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    awesome. i dont much care for screen protectors (they generally feel too filmy), but i may try it on my next phone.

  14. Damien Garcia
    December 12, 2012 at 1:40 am

    This is really helpful, thank you. which screen protector is a good choice to go with?

    • Aaron Couch
      December 14, 2012 at 7:50 pm


      Thanks! Glad it helped. Well, it's hard telling which would be the best because a certain brand may not make it for all devices. The one I used in this article just came with my Otter Box case it it worked fine (only had one attempt at putting it on — no pressure, right?).

      My advice would be to check out the reviews on the screen protectors and see what others are saying about them. Amazon or Ebay are probably my favorite places to get things such as this, but if you have a different preference, that's fine. Just make sure you can check out the reviews.

      • Damien Garcia
        December 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

        Thanks Aaron. Yeah i have an HTC Amaze right now but I am about to switch to an Iphone. I heard Invisishield is the best one out there and i also heard there was better. I bought one from amazon but it was not what i expected it kept falling off lol.

  15. RonW
    December 12, 2012 at 12:14 am

    When handling the screen protector, be sure to apply spray to your fingertips. Let the fluid flow down the fingers if necessary. In this manner you will not leave any finger prints on the surface being applied to the screen. Keep a clean, lint and dust free cloth handy to collect excess fluid immediately. Also apply fluid to top surface so that wiping card will flow smoothly and without scratching surface. Be sure your work surfaces (i.e., table, desk) are free of any other lint/dust causing substances. No pets allowed during the application process.

  16. Tony Yarbrough
    December 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Great tutorial! My first attempt at applying the thin film used all of my 4-pack. But I didn't give up. I allowed my son to ruin 2 more to learn... and he is G O O D ! Now, I can dive into it again with extreme confidence.

  17. Walter Gilbert
    December 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Excellent how to do. I will follow your step when I replace the screen protector.

    Thank you

  18. Gaeyle Gerrie-Boss
    December 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    great ways to approach getting the air out from under the screen protector!

  19. Syed Fouzan
    December 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    This will help me alot :) thanks for sharing

  20. Lönja Selter
    December 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    very useful, my cover is due for replacement any time now so will try this trick

  21. Ale
    December 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Great step by step guide. It´s one of those things everyone assumes how to do right but no one actually knows how to. Thanks!

  22. susendeep dutta
    December 11, 2012 at 8:18 am

    This article is very good as it's not so long and is aided with videos too.It'll help many new ones to learn it.

  23. Douglas Mutay
    December 11, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Thank for that article Aaron. I have recently bought a pack of 4 screen protector for my phone but had to mess up the process twice before I figure out the correct method. Now I still have one left and will surely use the tape method when time for replacement will come. It seems to be very efficient. Good article!!!

  24. Effendi Chung
    December 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

    This is a good tutorial. However, if I might add, for those pesky dust or debris trapped underneath the film, you can remove them by sticking them to a finger covered with a cellotape. I personally used the first method.

    • claudine ratelle
      December 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Ugh I hate when those dust/debris get stuck under! Right now I have one that has debris under it :( But my previous one was a Zagg and it was really easy to install, and there was no bubbles or debris!... Just a little bit expensive...

  25. Arshad Hasan
    December 11, 2012 at 6:41 am


  26. Junil Maharjan
    December 11, 2012 at 4:09 am

    everybody should know this so share more.

  27. Venkateswara Swamy Swarna
    December 11, 2012 at 2:54 am

    Thanks for a good tutorial. I am in a city where there are so many shops who do this day in and day out. So, I just go to one of them and get the job done by a professional for a small amount. That way I am happy and they make a living....

    • Aaron Couch
      December 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

      Really? That's interesting. I've never heard of shops that would do that. Do they do other things as well? It's hard for me to believe there is THAT much demand for it.

      Perhaps next time you get a screen protector you should try this method though. You might be amazed at how easy it really is and you can save a few bucks in the process.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Venkateswara Swamy Swarna
        December 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

        I live in the city of Hyderabad (India) where there are hundreds if not thousands of small shops that sell mobiles, accessories including screen guards, chargers etc. - some of them repair mobiles (a few of them can handle tablets too). I got a screen guard fixed for less than 2 bucks (US Dollars) last time. Now I have a tablet PC and got the screen guard gratis - I just need to pay a few cents to get the professional fix it for me cleanly.

        So, thanks for the suggestion, but I prefer to help that guy make a decent living and save myself the potential for making mistakes (being a senior citizen with some neurological issues, not completely ruled out). Best regards.

  28. Ron Lister
    December 11, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I used a screen protector once, took forever to get it right and get all the bubbles out, but I got it. It was definantely a pain in the butt. If I ever try another one i'll give your method a try and see if your tricks work, but as fast as the phones change I may just forego the idea all together.

    • Aaron Couch
      December 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm


      You should definitely try this method next time! It's a piece of cake.

  29. Dorfmeister Vazquez
    December 11, 2012 at 1:43 am

    no more bubbles into our smartphone´s screen!!!. Perfect Highly recommended

  30. Félix S. De Jesús
    December 11, 2012 at 12:56 am

    So useful recommendation!!

  31. Doc
    December 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    "wet the microfiber cloth, ring it out" *wring*

  32. Frank Zedmore
    December 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Great tutorial! I do this for all my big screen electronics

    • Aaron Couch
      December 14, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      Nice! Yeah this method is definitely superior to all other methods when applying to larger screens such as tablets.

  33. grandfred
    December 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    thank u so mutch , i'll try it :)

    • etown
      April 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm