10 settings to instantly disable on your phone
Your smartphone knows a lot about you, and in some cases too much. Some features and settings are enabled on Android by default, and we think you might want to disable them right now.
A word of caution, just disabling a few settings on your Android smartphone won’t instantly return it to where it was the day you bought it. That said, it can improve your day-to-day experience and give you a little extra control in areas you didn’t know you had.
Be sure to enable developer options before diving into this list, otherwise you’ll be left scratching your head trying to figure out each of the settings and features. Just go to Settings > About Phone > Build Number. Press it seven times and enter your PIN or pattern to access a wonderful world of additional phone functionality.
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Limit background processes
If you have an older phone or a modest phone with low RAM, you can limit or disable the default background process limit. This may not make an immediate difference to your day-to-day experience, but down the line it may prove useful to limit how many concurrent background apps are kept idle at any given time.
Go to Settings > Developer Options > Background Process Limit. From here you can set the process limit between 0 and 4. This means you can play around to find the right setting for you and your device.
Wi-Fi + Bluetooth scanning
Another way to potentially reduce battery usage is to disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning on your Android phone. Simply put, these features mean that your phone is able to scan for Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices even when both settings are disabled for better location accuracy or GPS determination.
Both settings are in the same place in Android on the Pixel, so it’s not difficult to disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi scanning at the same time. To do so, go to Settings > Location > Wi-Fi scanning and Settings > Location > Bluetooth scanning, and turn these options to “off”.
Google location history
Your Android phone and Google Maps are capable of tracking your movement history, and while some people simply don’t care, you might not want to let it happen automatically. This is linked to your account and is used to provide better personalized results in Maps, plus better recommendations based on the places you visit. It’s a trade-off you have to decide to make.
There are a couple of options here that might be helpful. You can disable the feature entirely, or set the location log to be deleted automatically after a preset period of time – anywhere from three to 36 months to be exact. To adjust or disable the default settings for Google Location History on your Android device, open Settings > Location > Location Services > Google Location History > Sign in to your Google Account.
This should open the “Activity Controls” page and you can turn off location history entirely or scroll down and select “Choose an automatic deletion option”, then select the “Delete activity older than automatic” drop-down menu from three, 18 or 36 months.
Add icons to the home screen
Most Android phones today will automatically add brand new apps or re-installed apps to the home screen. Now that’s great if you like to have everything on multiple pages. We still think the app drawer does a better job of keeping things tidy for apps you might not need very often but want to keep on your phone.
Depending on your device launcher, you can enable or disable this feature by long-pressing an empty area on the home screen or sidebars and tapping “Home Settings” or “Settings.” From here, check or uncheck “Add app icons to home screen” to suit your personal preferences.
Limit the use of background data
Sometimes apps on your Android device will access your cellular data or Wi-Fi connection to do things like refresh your feeds in the background and save time loading until you reopen. But with potentially hundreds of apps on your phone that can do this, you can rack up a ton of data usage if you’re on a limited plan.
This can pause or limit notifications on your phone, but you have the option to adjust this on an app-by-app basis, so it means only apps you choose will be affected. There are a few ways to enable or disable background data usage for apps installed on your phone. The easiest and most obvious is to go to the app in question by opening Settings > Apps > Select an app you want to adjust data, then Settings > Mobile data & Wi-Fi > Background data.
Another way to reach this menu and see updated data usage information on Pixel phones is to go to Settings > Network & Internet > Internet > Non-carrier data usage > Select an app > Background data.
Disable mobile data that is always active
Similar to apps accessing background data, you may want to limit how mobile data is used by your device. On most Android phones, mobile data is technically always available even when you’re connected to a fast, stable Wi-Fi network. Sure, this means that quickly switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data is seamless, but so does potential battery life.
We suggest you disable this functionality right out of the gate because there’s no real penalty when you leave a Wi-Fi network and reconnect to data channels. To disable this, go to Settings > System > Developer options > Mobile data is always on > Turn off.
Notify public networks
When you’re out and about, you can get notifications on your phone to alert you that an open or public Wi-Fi network is available. In most cases, this can be a little annoying if you are in a busy area or if you don’t intend to connect to public/unsecured networks.
Although it may be useful, you have the option to disable this functionality at any time. If you have a low data allowance, we suggest you keep it active, but for everyone else, you can disable this by going to Settings > Network & Internet or Wi-Fi > Network Settings > Notify for Public Networks > Enable/Disable. This may be hidden under an “Advanced” section on some Android devices.
Use and diagnostics
In an effort to help improve the Android operating system, you may not realize that certain diagnostic and usage information is shared with Google when you encounter problems, app crashes, or delays. It’s worth noting that this information is completely anonymous and usually only relates to things like battery level, extensive app usage, and the quality of your network and Bluetooth connections.
Because of that, it is fair for you to want to disable these extra settings on your Android, as there are many others who can provide that information. To disable usage and diagnostics information, open Settings > Google > tap the three-dot menu at the top right > Usage and diagnostics > “Off”.
Opt out of personalization of ads
Whether you’re signed in to your Android phone with your Google account or not, you’ll get search or banner ads on around two million+ websites that use Google’s ad platform. These ads are tailored to your interests and even your most common search terms to try to make ads more relevant to you. Understandably, you may not want such ads to appear, and Google makes it quite easy to disable and adjust these ad settings on your Android phone.
To adjust, go to Settings > Google > Ads > Tap your Google Account > Data & privacy > Ad settings > Personalize ads. This panel shows you all the information that Google has obtained from the data you have provided to create an advertising profile based on your account. If you want less personalized ads in your account, just switch this setting to “Off”.
Require device unlock for NFC
This option should be disabled by default on most phones, but we recommend checking it to be 100% sure, as this could mean NFC payments are possible for anyone using your phone. Basically, when you use Google Pay or another wireless payment method on your phone, the feature blocks your ability to do so unless you unlock your phone first.
In most cases, that’s fine. But if you lose your phone, someone can make multiple payments before you can block a card. Conversely, you may want quick access when using public transport or making super-fast payments throughout the day. You can choose whichever setting you prefer, but we would definitely suggest leaving it as it is. To check go to Settings > Connectivity Settings > NFC > Require Device Unlock for NFC.
While the lock screen blocks people from accessing your device with biometrics, PIN or password, it’s not completely foolproof because of how notifications are displayed by default. Android allows you to hide notifications in a similar way that iOS handles them. Instead of showing who a message or notification is from, you’ll just see that a notification is waiting. You can even disable notifications from appearing on the lock screen entirely if you want extra peace of mind.
Activation is as a heading to Settings > Notifications > Sensitive notifications. On Samsung phones: Settings > Lock screen > Notifications > Hide content.
Which Android settings do you immediately disable on your device?
We want to know exactly which settings or settings you disable as soon as you turn on and configure your Android phone. Is there something you literally can’t live without? Let us know in the comments section below.
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