You rely on your smartphone for a lot and are perhaps reading this very piece on your smartphone. It’s the perfect tool for all sorts of situations and keeps you constantly connected to the outside world. It only makes sense that you want to get the most out of it. Yet knowing how to do that doesn’t come naturally given that a lot of functionality is hidden behind peripherals, special settings, and apps you would never find out about by searching on the app store. We want to help you get the most out of this device.
So here are some tips and tricks for your smartphone that will help you do more, run it better, or try out new things:
There has usually been a way to record your phone screen with the right combination of apps and settings, but now it is not nearly so complex. If you want to record what you are doing on your screen, just follow the instructions below:
For Android Phones, follow the instructions described here.
For iPhones (or other Apple devices), follow these instructions instead.
Once the screen recording is done, then you want to make sure you can access it and view it, so check your gallery or the appropriate folder when you get a chance. You might want to do a second take, and you want your mind to be on the script when you do that.
Ever swipe away at notifications that you didn’t mean to? Us too. Fortunately, there is a way to check on them and see what you missed without guessing around in your apps.
If you want to look at your old notifications, you can look at the Notification Log. It might not be the most needed feature and most of the information will not be lost forever even if you don’t check it, but sometimes you want to know exactly what a notification looked like.
Some conversations on your smartphone are more important than others. Whether it is a family member, a close colleague, or someone else, you want to know the second they message you while not being bothered by the conversations that can wait.
To do so, you need to consider the app you are using as well as the settings within the app. However, it is nonetheless possible. Look for Priority Mode, and set up the contacts and apps of your choice to be a priority. Also, don’t forget that in most social media apps you can fine-tune what gets made into a notification. Perhaps you don’t need to know every detail of that 50-person group chat.
A lock screen can be a hassle if you are checking your phone regularly and you know your phone is safe at home where no one else can get at it.
With the right settings, you can make it so that the lock screen exists when you are outside the home (or other trusted places) or the phone is away from your person. If you are home, who is going to snoop on your screen? If you are concerned about this of course, then you will want to try and keep your phone locked at all times you’re not using it.
Note that the system isn’t perfect, and your phone cannot necessarily tell you apart from another person by proximity alone. This means that if you are in an unknown area or especially concerned, keep the settings right where they are.
One of the most useful features that most people don’t know about is the ability to change the font size and image size on your phone.
To do so, you will want to go into your settings,, then accessibility, then the option that equates to “display and text size” (it might be slightly different depending on the phone). Then select your preferred sizes and see if they are best for you. It is easy to switch as needed, and easy to test out. Don’t like it? Just take five seconds to switch it back.
Most people will want to increase the text if anything, but people with exceptionally good vision (and screens) can also opt for smaller text.
Depending on the app, this might be something you can do on many mobile apps as well, further changing the amount of clarity available. Note that changing the settings in this way and on the phone might affect the pages and layout of what you look at. They mostly weren’t designed with that size in mind, after all.
At least on Android phones, there is a feature that allows you to run several apps side-by-side, either to compare notes, watch something while working on a project or message, or whatever you want. There will be no more need to go back and forth constantly or take notes before you forget a vital bit of information.
To set it up on your Android phone, tap the icon with three bars on the bottom left of your screen. Then hold down on the icon above the app view on this screen. You can then “open in split-screen view” and select another app.
There might be some difficulties in screen space if you have a smaller phone, and your processor might be put to the test if you are running more intensive apps, but this feature certainly has its place. Try it out the next time you are doing research or a video comparison.
Cybersecurity is one of the most important things in today’s connected world, and the development of malware happens daily. Cybersecurity experts and companies do their best to make sure that the impact is minimal and people’s devices are protected, but you need to do your part in this as well. We can’t go into everything here, but mobile cybersecurity has its own set of rules and general guidelines you should follow.
Note that the security needs of an iPhone and an Android device will be quite different. Android is a much more open system, and as a rule more open to attacks. With iPhones, you aren’t immune from threats, but malware will not be your biggest concern. Instead, you need to worry more about giving your information away yourself through fraud or a scam.
Now would also be a great time to brush up on what the latest scams and schemes are, so you can protect yourself and your information. Billions are lost to cybercrime and identity fraud each year. Make sure that you don’t lose anything. Avoid public networks, consider using a VPN, and try to make sure that you are regularly keeping yourself up to date on potential threats.
There may be circumstances where you are looking for interesting apps on your computer. Perhaps you read an article like this one where an app comes up, and you want to install it right away. Perhaps you are charging your phone and are on your computer. Maybe you just don’t feel like looking at your phone screen right now.
Fortunately, if you have an account connected and the right settings on your account, you can click on the app on your computer or other devices and have it installed automatically on your Smartphone. You may or may not need to have your smartphone connected to a WiFi network, but it will happen at the next possible opportunity. If you have a connected account, explore the appropriate app store for your phone sometimes.
Want to wake up at a certain time, but are afraid of your phone suddenly blasting you awake with loud music? You can set it up so that your alarm gradually increases in volume after set intervals. It’ll give a little bit of time from waking the entire house up, and it will be a nicer wake-up call. If the option is not available in your default timer or alarm app, you can easily find one that has this feature for free and with little hassle.
You can also likely find a similar app or tool on iPhone. You might want to pick out a song you like as well, as opposed to a blaring alarm that is not what you want to greet your day.
People might need to borrow your phone you might want to have someone look at a video or some pictures, but similarly, you don’t want someone rooting away through everything on your device, which can have a lot of sensitive information on it. Fortunately, you have screen pinning for that, which is a way to keep someone in one app.
To utilize screen or app pinning, you will want to go to your phone’s settings app. Then go to “Security”, then “Advanced” on most phones, and finally look for “app pinning”.
If you use an iOS device, you will want to look into “guided access”, which is a similar but more in-depth version of screen pinning where you can control the inputs on certain apps.
Similarly, screen pinning can be great if you are letting your child play a game on your phone but you don’t want them messing around with any other apps on your device. It can be a great way to set boundaries without having to constantly be monitoring every tap of your phone. It can be annoying if you don’t share your phone often, though, so it might be something you use or keep on only when needed.
Experts agree that taking time away from screens before bed can help with sleep and help you with trying to get to sleep and stay asleep. We agree with this recommendation, but also understand that it might not be entirely realistic for some people. Perhaps you watch something or listen to a track to help you get to bed, or need to keep it close for work. However, there is a middle ground: turning on night mode or the “blue light filter” on your phone. It should be easily found on your phone’s quick settings bar.
Some apps and programs allow you to filter out the blue light available for each operating system. Also note that if you use your computer late at night, there are similar programs that will remove the blue light from your computer screen. You might find yourself getting sleepier earlier at night, but that only means that it is working just as intended.
Need to charge your phone quickly? We have all been there. Some cords do better, wireless chargers that charge faster, and optimal conditions for good charges. Yet those are things you might want to search for yourself depending on your model. However, most settings are universal, and the airplane mode on your phone can be useful for charging as well. It will turn off the features that often use the most charge (the transmitting and receiving of signals), meaning your phone will reach the top shape faster.
Overall, depending on your phone and several other factors, you can potentially charge your phone twice as quickly using airplane mode. However, this is extreme. You will save at least a few minutes, though.
Perhaps obviously, you can also charge your phone faster by reducing usage when it is charging overall. If you turn your phone off before charging it will charge the fastest. If you don’t use it, it will help as well. If you do any of these things, though, make sure that you won’t need to take a call or are expecting any messages.
Speaking of your battery, you usually want to make it last as long as possible on a single charge, even if you plug it in regularly. Some of this comes down to your location, how old your battery is, and other factors mostly outside of your control. However, what you can have control over is your screen, and the following things:
Whether at the grocery store or at a nightclub, sometimes a song comes on that resonates with you. And it’s not like you can type in musical notes and hope to get a result, even if you could identify that. And lyrics can sometimes help but are not perfect. An app or dedicated tool to identify those songs is best. There are several options, though Shazam, Soundhound, and Musixmatch seem to occupy the top of the charts.
In the major music streaming apps, you might also find such options (or at least relevant partnerships), which will allow you to buy or stream that music in nearly an instant. Remember to act quickly before the song ends, as most apps require a little bit of time to get an accurate reading.
Scanned documents can have their place on your smartphone and in your work environment. And as long as the scan is of high enough equality, a fair number of apps can search for words in these scanned documents, making them much more useful and removing most of the disadvantages of having to start with a physical copy in the first place.
As for how to do it, there are plenty of options. On an iPhone, you can tap the camera button, then hit “scan documents”. Then you need to line up the document with the camera. There is a chance that it will automatically scan, especially with good lighting, but you can hit the shutter to scan it manually.
Additionally, there are apps you can use, and a quick search will yield you the best options. On Android, we recommend using the Google Drive App. Remember to line up as good a scan as possible and to get good lighting. You don’t want anyone to have to squint when reading it later.
Need to take a quick shot but don’t know how to get your camera app open in time? You can double-tap the power button on your Android phone to immediately get it open and on the camera app. This way you don’t have to delay when you need to act fast.
Note that you won’t be able to do much else or access your gallery from here to delete a photo. You’ll need to enter your PIN or get through your security for that. But a quick snap? Just whip out your phone, line up the shot, and get to it!
Not everything needs to be an audiobook for it to be read out to you. You can instead get assistance from your phone itself by method of an automated voice. The voice might sound a little robotic, but it is a vast improvement for people who have vision issues or would have trouble reading the text otherwise. Even if you just need something read out loud to make sure that you are hearing things right, it can be a temporary aid.
To activate it on Android via Google Assistant, you will want to go into your device’s settings, then go to “Accessibility”. After this, you may need to select vision, but in any case you’ll want to find the “select to speak” option. With this on, you should be able to tap a section of your screen to hear it read aloud. Experiment with it and see if it is for you.
On your iPhone, you will go through a similar process. You can either have your iPhone read your screen from top to bottom, or have it read aloud text you highlight. Your options might be more varied, but you will need to get used to them.
Your notifications can be a great tool to keep you on track of things or a point of endless annoyance. If you are getting a dozen notifications a minute, you are just going to start ignoring them (even the important ones). If you haven’t customized your notification settings yet, we urge you to do so for your own sanity. You can set some of them to vibrate or others to be silent.
On Android, it is relatively easy to do. Go into “Settings”, then “Apps”, then “Your Apps”. Select the app you want to change alerts for, and then change what you want notifications for and what those notifications will sound like (or vibrate). In truth, with most apps, you’ll want to turn notifications off entirely, but we’ll leave that decision-making up to you.
If you look into it more deeply, you can do some fun things such as add your own custom sounds. Experiment, and you’ll save yourself time and remove distractions from your life in the long run.
Your smartphone probably has somewhere between 32GB and 128GB of storage by default, but that might not be enough depending on what you do with your smartphone. Some apps and games use up a lot of space, and music, photos, and videos quickly add up. Fortunately, with most phones you can install a microSD card to greatly expand your storage for a relatively decent price. As of this writing, you can get a 256GB card for around $30, and larger storage options are still available if you need them.
On how exactly to install it, we recommend consulting the manual and instructions for your smartphone (if you lost them, a quick online search should give you what you need). It will likely only take you a minute or two plus the time it takes to turn your phone on and off.
If you need a space to put everything on your phone quick, note that with the right cable and adaptor you can easily connect your smartphone to an external hard drive (preferably flash memory or an SSD. Then keep that in a safe space and you have a backup. Similarly, cloud storage services range from incredibly cheap to free, depending on how much storage you want. You have plenty of options; all you need to do is choose between them.
Your smartphone is one of the most distracting inventions or devices to have ever been invented. There is an endless amount of potential connections and entertainment on it, and it’s small enough to carry around with you anywhere. Even a TV needs to be in a room and stay there. The average person in the United States spends five to six hours a day on a smartphone. As much as a smartphone could be useful, that might be a bit much.
If you’re struggling to stay focused while you are working, then consider using an app to give yourself a little resistance. The Freedom app can tell you what you are spending your time on your phone doing. The Forest app gives you a little forest to grow and tend to by not going your smartphone for periods of time. The BlockSite app can keep you away from distracting sites as well. Experiment with the apps and settings that work for you so you can get what you want done.
Take a quick count of how many apps you have on your phone. How many do you have? More importantly, how often do you need or use each of them? Unless you have an exact answer for why an app is on a phone, it might be a good idea to simply delete it. You can get it back when needed, you clear up space on your phone, and your life will feel less cluttered by it.
Note that there are some apps that you won’t be able to remove, such as the Play Store or many of the ones installed by default on your smartphone. You can disable them in the meanwhile, however, making them not a factor in the regular operation of your phone.
Similarly, it can be helpful to clear out the files on your smartphone occasionally. Are there songs or albums you downloaded that you don’t listen to anymore? Is there a massive collection of photos that should perhaps be moved to your computer or the cloud? Videos take up a lot of space, so moving them elsewhere can be great. There might even be games or large downloads you forgot about that are cutting into your storage space.
Whatever your exact need or situation, you will receive the benefit of having a better idea of what’s on your phone and clearing up space.
There is so much more that you can do with your smartphone that we could fill a book with the information. And given how smartphones, operating systems, and related devices are changing constantly, there is a sense that we will never stop coming up with new and amazing ideas. We hope that the above information has been helpful to you, and that you have picked up a few things. Come back as you need and enjoy your smartphone like never before!