19 Android Settings You May Not Know About
If you are one typical smartphone user, you average nearly five hours a day on your phone now. But beyond video and social media apps, you may not know about the tweaks and settings that can make those hours easier, or even shorter.
The Android Settings screen is packed with more options than you probably realize, options that can make your phone more convenient to use, keep your data safer, and enable faster connections to other devices. These all appear in the Settings app on the latest version of Android 13 in so-called “pure Android”, which you get on Google Pixel devices and other lightly affected models, but other phones, such as those from Samsung or Motorola, should have similar options in similar places.
Turn on Wi-Fi automatically
You can have Wi-Fi turned off when you are away from home or the office. If so, Android can turn it back on for you when you come back within range of a network you’ve previously logged into. Set the course towards Network and Internetthereafter Internet, and Network settings to find Turn on Wi-Fi automatically switch.
Use less data
If you’re in a foreign country, on a limited data plan, or in an area with unstable mobile coverage, you can make your phone use less data by tapping Network and Internet and Data saver. This works in a number of different ways: for example, certain apps may check for updates less frequently, while images on the web may not load until you tap them.
Add extra security for contactless payments
Apps like Google Pay allow you to pay with your phone through the magic of NFC, meaning anyone who picks up your handset can potentially pay with it. You can prevent that by making sure NFC payments require screen unlock. Set the course towards Connected devices, connection settings, NFCand turn on Require device unlock for NFC.
Start driving mode automatically
Android now comes with a special mode for when you’re driving, which makes it easier to perform certain actions with voice commands and suppresses other notifications. You can make this mode start automatically when your phone connects to your car’s Bluetooth stereo: To set up this feature, select Connected devices, Connection settingsand Driving mode.
Set default apps on your phone
Certain actions, such as opening links or answering calls, need default apps associated with them. To control which apps are associated with which jobs, select Apps and then Default apps— You can then select a type of app (such as a browser) and choose which one to use first. All available apps matching that type will be listed on the screen.
Manage what apps can do on your phone
Apps often ask for permission to access certain data or parts of your device, such as your contacts and your phone’s location. To view—and, if necessary, edit—these permissions or restrict access to only when using the app, open Apps and then select See all apps to select a specific app, then tap Permissions to check the settings and make changes. You will also be shown the last time a particular set of permissions was used.
Pause permissions on unused apps
You don’t want old apps you no longer use to keep their permissions, which is why by default Android now pauses permissions on apps you haven’t used in a while. To control this for individual apps, select Appsthereafter See all appsthen select an app and select Permissions and Pause app activity if not in use. (Now is a good time to remove apps you don’t really use anymore, by the way.)
Check your notification log
Android keeps track of your notifications, in case you swiped them away too quickly and need to get them back. You can turn on the feature and see recent notifications from your apps by selecting Alerts and then Notification history. Note that notifications that are currently snoozed will appear in this list, as well as notifications that you have dismissed.
Hide sensitive notifications on the lock screen
You don’t necessarily want sensitive or personal notifications to appear on your lock screen for anyone to read. You can stop this by selecting Alerts and disable Sensitive alerts rocker switch. The sensitivity of a notification is actually controlled by the developer of the app sending it, but instant messages will usually be included.
Hide silent notifications
You probably get enough notifications without all the silent ones. These are the ones that might tell you the weather, or that there’s traffic in your area, or that a podcast is downloading in the background. If you also don’t want these to appear on your phone and distract you, select Alerts and activate Hide silent notifications in the status bar.
Show the battery percentage in the status bar
It can be difficult to see how much battery life you have left on your phone by looking at the little icon in the status bar. To get a percentage reading next to it, select Battery and then turn on Battery percentage rocker switch. All the other status bar icons will shift to the left accordingly, and the usual battery life icon will remain in place.
See which apps use the most storage space
If you’re running out of space on your phone, you can see which apps are taking up the most space by going to Storage and then Apps. The largest apps in terms of storage space appear at the top of the list. The numbers shown include all the files for an app – so downloaded Spotify playlists and Netflix shows count in addition to the actual Spotify and Netflix apps, for example.
Add live captions to videos
The ability to caption speech in videos – in real time – is available on a growing number of Android phones, and it’s useful even if you’re not hearing impaired. You can find the option by pressing Sound and vibration and then Direct text. Captions generated by Google’s AI processing will then appear automatically whenever speech is detected, whether in a video on social media or in a video call.
Make the screen lock before
Your lock screen protects your phone from unwelcome users, so ideally you want it to activate as quickly as possible after you put it down. You can change this duration by opening up Show and then select Screen timeout from the list – you will usually be able to select durations from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Make everything on the screen bigger
If you struggle to read text on the screen, go to Show and Screen size and text in Settings. You will see two sliders, one for Font size (which makes the text bigger or smaller) and a for screen size (which does everything larger or smaller, including icons and menus). Press Reset settings to return to default settings.
Unlock your device at trusted locations
If there are certain places you’re sure no untrustworthy will get to your phone—like at home—you can have the screen unlock automatically in those places for added convenience. Set the course towards Safetythereafter Advanced settingsthereafter Smart Lockand finally Trusted sites. Add a location and you’re good to go.
Add medical information
Suppose you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an emergency medical situation. If so, you may not be able to tell first responders about your blood type, medications, allergies, and other important information. However, you can tell your phone – via Safety and preparedness and Medical information– and these details will then be available from the lock screen.
Set limits on app usage
If you’re worried that you’re spending too much time on TikTok or Twitter, Android can help you out here. If you press Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controlsand then select Dashboardyou can see how much time you’ve spent on certain apps during the day – and, if necessary, set limits on how much time you can spend on them in the future.
Enable guest mode
Guest mode is a great way to let others use your phone without them being able to access your social media accounts, banking apps or game points. It works just like a user account on macOS or Windows, and you can set it up on Android by choosing System, More usersand then activate Allow multiple users.