If you’ve been an Android user for several years, you might think you know the Android settings menu inside out. After all, there’s no way you’d have accidentally overlooked a useful option, right?
Unfortunately, you probably have overlooked something. These days, the Android settings menu is a sprawling maze of menu and sub-menus. It’s hard to find the more obscure options.
But which of the settings you’ve overlooked are useful, and which can live on in peaceful obscurity? Let’s find out. (Depending on your device’s manufacturer, some of these settings might not be available.)
1. Screen Magnification
Do you ever come across a really small font or tiny picture while you’re browsing the web?
If you’re using a browser on a desktop machine, it’s easy to zoom in and take a closer look. And, of course, Windows and macOS both offer a robust set of accessibility tools.
On mobile, it’s a different story. Some web pages allow you to use the pinch-to-zoom gesture, whereas others aren’t compatible with the feature. It all depends on how the site is coded.
Android offers a solution. Open the Settings app and navigate to Accessibility > System > Magnification Gesture and slide the toggle into the On position.
When enabled, triple-tap the screen to zoom in, and navigate by dragging two fingers around the display. You can adjust the level of zoom by pinching. Triple-tap again to return to the standard view.
Alternatively, triple-tap the screen and keep your finger pressed down on the third tap. It will temporarily zoom the screen until you release your finger.
2. Invert Screen Colors
The accessibility menu offers a couple of other useful features that we’ll look at. Firstly, let’s check out how to invert your screen’s colors.
For someone with a visual impairment, this has obvious advantages. But it’s also useful for everyone else.
Just think, how many times have you wished an app had a “dark” theme? And how many times have you given yourself sore eyes because you’ve used a bright screen in a dark room? Sure, there are third-party apps that can alter your screen’s color temperature, but this is an easy-to-use native alternative.
To invert your Android’s screen, open the Settings app and go to Accessibility > Display > Color Inversion. Slide the toggle into the On position to get started.
Using the feature has a couple of caveats. Firstly, your device may not perform as efficiently. Secondly, there’s no shortcut -– you’ll have to go into the Settings menu every time you want to enable or disable the inversion.
3. Add More Printing Services
Occasionally, it’s useful to be able to print a document from your smartphone. Perhaps you forgot an important letter or need to produce a copy of your ID.
Google Cloud Print has been part of the Android operating system for a long time. However, despite being a long-term feature, the service doesn’t feel solid. Print jobs often fail, and if you’re using an old printer, adding it into the app is a painstaking process.
Luckily, you can easily add more printers to your devices. Plugins are available from all the leading printer manufacturers, including HP, Brother, Canon, Xerox, and Epson. There are also a few cross-printer third-party apps to choose from.
To add a printer plugin, go to Settings > Printing > Add Service. A list of all the available plugins will appear. To add one to your phone, tap on the icon and click Install.
4. Make Passwords Visible
If you follow proper security etiquette, your password should be long, use a mix of numbers and letters, include uppercase and lowercase characters, and use some special characters.
On paper, that sounds great. In practice, it’s annoying –- especially on a mobile device. It takes a long time to enter it when you’re using an on-screen keyboard. Worse yet, you don’t even know if you made an error; your phone typically obscures your password using stars or dots.
If you find that you have to constantly re-enter passwords due to typos, this setting could be for you. Enabling it will mean your password will be visible on-screen in plain text.
To make all your passwords visible, go to Settings > Security > Passwords > Make passwords visible and slide the toggle into the On position.
Warning: This setting has obvious security implications. If you enable it, make sure nobody is looking over your shoulder when using your online banking or other sensitive services.
5. Set Your Billing Cycle
Although the general global trend is towards an unlimited data allowance on your cell phone contract, there are many carriers –- especially in the United States — that restrict your allowance.
If you go over your allowance, you’ll either be forced to pay out for an expensive add-on to keep you online, or you’ll receive a shock when your bill arrives.
If you set your billing cycle, you can monitor how much data you’re using over the 30-day period and adjust your usage accordingly.
To set up your bill date, go to Settings > Data Usage > Billing cycle > Billing cycle. In this menu, you can also choose whether you receive warnings when you get close to your limit, and even disable mobile data entirely if you go over it.
To see how much data you have used in a given period, tap on Mobile data usage. You’ll be able to see a neat graph that shows you which days your usage was unusually light or heavy.
6. Touch and Hold Delay
For the final setting, we head back to the Accessibility menu. Did you know it was possible to change how much time you need to hold your finger down for during a “long press”?
If you frequently find yourself needing access to the copy and paste context menu, setting the time to the shortest available option is a huge timesaver.
To make your selection, open the Settings app and navigate to Accessibility > System > Touch and hold delay. You can choose from Short, Medium, or Long.
What Other Android Settings Are Useful?
In this article, we’ve introduced you to six underused and underappreciated Android settings on your device.
Which little-known options do you rely on every day? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions in the comments below.