General Android Tips & Tricks
The following tips might be known to experienced Android users, but those less savvy might find them pretty interesting. The list will probably grow in time, as the operating system is upgraded often and new functions and options are revealed.
One of the most important tips is a simple way to wake up your smartphone bypassing the lock screen. Basically, when the screen is off, you can double press the Menu button to bypass the lock screen and wake up the phone. This will only work if you didn’t activate the “Unlock Pattern” option.
Changing between ringing profiles can be easily accomplished by using the Volume keys. You can change from silent mode to ringer mode, just by pressing Volume up/down keys. If you have your phone set to silent mode, further pressing the volume down hardware button will activate vibration mode. This tip may not be compatible with all Android models, but it works on most of them.
When writing a message and you’re using the on-screen keyboard, you can do a space bar double tap instead of typing “.” then space for a new sentence. The keyboard will automatically do a full stop, space, and then capitalize the next letter.
You can use the phone’s trackball (if one is present) to scroll anywhere in a text message, instead of trying to put your finger in between some words or letters. This way is quicker and much easier. Using the trackball on the HTC Hero will also switch between home screens, replacing the swiping method.
Whenever you press the Menu button in App Drawer (Main menu), it will let you switch the view from Grid mode to List mode.
In case you don’t have a certain widget installed on your home screen you can just tap the notification bar to check the current date, which will appear in the upper-left corner of the screen.
Here is another interesting tip, turning your device face down while receiving a call will mute the ringtone. This tip is available for Android devices that feature a proximity sensor. You get the same result if you press the volume down button.
If you hold the Call button during a call, you can activate the speakers. The speakerphone can be turned on or off during calls by clicking on the Menu button.
For those that own an Android-based smartphone that includes the Search button (looks like a little magnifying glass), clicking on it will bring up a search function.
Clicking the Menu button on your device when you have an application open, will bring up a menu with various options.
You can find out lots of statistics and informations about your phone (including battery usage), by dialing * # * # 4 6 3 6 # * # * to bring up a hidden screen.
When tapping on a contact picture in the Messages or People / Contacts applicaiton, a pop-up box will be displayed. This will offer you quick links to certain actions: call, email, SMS, Google Talk, open contact, and find on map – depending on the data contained in the contact’s details.
Users that own Android phones with HTC Sense, can pinch the screen to bring up an overview of all the different homescreens, in order to quickly switch between them. This is also possible by pressing the Home key when the main screen is selected.
When setting a new custom wallpaper for the phone’s homescreen, be sure to check the box and select the largest possible area of the image, or the wallpaper may look pixelated.
If you want to add new photos to a new album, connect your Android phone to a PC via USB, create a new folder on the SD card and give it the name of your choice, using your computer’s file manager. You can add pictures to this folder, and the next time you start the Photos / Gallery application on your device, your new album will be listed.
Browsing the Web
Its engine provides a set of classes to display web content in windows, and implements browser features such as following links when clicked by the user, managing a back-forward list, and managing a history of pages recently visited.
There are some tips and shortcuts, that will probably make your web browsing experience even more easier, like holding down the Back button in the web browser, which will bring up a list of recently visited pages.
You can also double tap in the browser to zoom, and on Android devices with the multi-touch feature, you will be able to zoom by pinching the screen with two fingers. The tip is also available for the image gallery.
Tap and hold until a pop-up menu window appears and select Copy, to copy text in the web browser.
If you own a newer Android smartphone, you can use the two select marks that are shown instead of the pop-up menu window, when you tap and hold, and drag around to select text. There will be three icons displayed: the Pages icon, which will copy the selected text, the green upwards arrows that lets you share the text, and the magnifying glass, that let you have three more options (look up the selected text in Wikipedia, translate the text or look it up in the dictionary).
Saving an image or sharing it via email and MMS can be done by long pressing on it in the browser.
You will also be able to click on addresses and phone numbers that are displayed in the browser (even without links), to get the option to show the location in Google Maps or dial that specific number.
Long press action
Android OS features an intuitive interface, which enables users to easily navigate through its menus. There are also some things that might make your life even easier. These tips regard the long press action, which usually brings up an option menu.
A long press (tap and hold) anywhere in Android interface will bring up a pop-up menu with options, which would be the corespondent action for right clicking in Windows.
For those Android devices that feature a trackball, if you don’t want to press it to take a picture when using the camera, then you can simply tap and hold on the screen instead.
When you hold down the Home button it will list the six most recently launched applications, for convenient multi-tasking, much like a Task Manager.
If your Android device has a trackball, in many cases pressing and holding it will have the same result as a long press on the screen.
Creating a folder on the home screen is very easy on Android, just long press / click Folder / click New folder). To rename a folder that you previously created, simply tap and hold on the title and then you’ll be able to edit it.
For Android devices that feature the HTC Sense interface, just tap and hold on the word suggestion bar when writing with the on-screen keyboard, and you’ll be able to change its position by dragging it around.
If you want to Forward a text message that you just received, simply press and hold it and select Forward from the menu.
Holding down the Menu button will make the on-screen keyboard pop-up and you will be able to use it to start search, if there’s something searchable.
Here is another interesting tip: long-press on the home screen, select Shortcuts / Directions & Navigation, enter a destination, the way you wish to travel, and select an icon. This is how you can quickly place a Navigation shortcut on your home screen.
Media / Audio
Adding your own ringtones and alarm sounds on your Android device might seem easy, but if you don’t know how and where to copy these you won’t be able to use it. Each Android smartphone is coming with a rather limited number of ringtones, but adding more should not be a problem if you follow the next guide.
You will need a SD memory card to copy your own collection of ringtones, alarm and message sounds. Insert the memory card into your phone and connect the smartphone to your PC using the USB cable. Then choose the Mount option, so you can have access to the memory card.
The trick is that you need to create a folder named Media on the memory card, then another one called Audio placed inside the Media folder. If you don’t have a freshly formatted SD card, you might already have these folders created.
Follow the path Media / Audio and create three more folders called Ringtones, Alarms and Notifications. All three must be put in the Audio folder. Then copy your sounds to the appropriate folders that you just created. After you disconnect your smartphone you will be able to choose the ringtones you like from those place on the memory card.
You can also choose different notification sounds for various incoming messages that you receive. Either it’s a Gmail message, a MMS or a Calendar notification, by default Android smartphones are usually playing the same sound. If you want to recognize by the sound, which of the messages you received you can personalize the notification sounds.
Setting the default notification sound can be done from Settings / Sound & display / Notification sound. The Gmail ringtone can be set from Gmail / Menu / Settings / Select ringtone. The sounds for incoming MMS and SMS can be changed from Messaging / Menu / Settings / Select sound. For Calendar notifications go to Calendar / Menu / More / Settings / Reminder settings / Select ringtone. The latter tip is available for Android smartphone that are running HTC Sense UI.
Hiding music files and images from media players requires user to create a special file on their PC and copy it on the SD memory card. Just start a text editor on your PC and save the file as .nomedia. Before saving it, be sure that Save as type is set as All Files, otherwise you won’t be able to save the file using the .nomedia extension.
Then simply copy the file into the folder that contains the audio and image files that you don’t want to show on media player. Reboot the device and your files will be hidden from any media player. Unfortunately, you will still be able to find them using a file manager or the application that created them.
Contacts & Calls
The following guide will teach you the old way to block calls, but bear in mind that Android market is now full of applications that are doing a much better job. It’s you choice if you want to pay for one of those applications or simply follow these simple steps:
First of all, the number has to be included into your Contact list. Open that person’s profile, press the Menu button, click Options and check the Incoming calls box.
Users with Android devices that feature the HTC Sense UI have to do it another way. Open the People application, choose the contact you want to divert to voicemail, press the Menu button and select Edit option. Then scroll down and check the Send calls directly to Voicemail box.
If you don’t own a rooted Android smartphone or don’t want to pay for a third-party application to help you block unwanted calls, you can divert these calls directly to your voicemail. For a long time this was the only way Android users were able to blacklist certain calls, especially those with un-rooted devices. The first third-party applications developed were only available for those with unlocked devices, but later on these made their way on the Android market and could be installed on any device for a fee.
Feel free to add more tips and tricks below, especially if you’re an advanced Android user.