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Rooting a phone is naturally your best option if you’re looking to unleash the full potential of your Android device. However, rooting doesn’t come without a few downsides.

For one, when you root your phone, you’re putting full trust in the root method’s developer not to have included harmful code or backdoor access. After all, rooting a phone is a process that, by its nature, must bypass any security measures that the device’s manufacturer put into place, exposing your phone to any number of potential compromises. Fortunately the developer community for Android is generally helpful and full of good will, so in practice this sort of dirty dealing has been rare in our experience. Nevertheless, the fact that there are thousands of active developers working on so many different devices makes this a legitimate concern.

Second, rooting an Android device usually isn’t as simple as installing and running an app. It’s possible for rooting procedures to go wrong, and sometimes this results in a “bricked” device that is no longer usable. Since rooting a phone violates your terms of use, you can almost certainly kiss your warranty goodbye in these situations.

The good news is that the Android operating system has advanced considerably since its infancy, and many users are finding that they no longer need to root their phones to unlock the capabilities they want to take advantage of. Here’s are some of our favorite ‘hacks’ that you can pull off with an unrooted phone even though they seem off the beaten trail. None of them are quite as exciting or advanced as you’d get with a root app, but some of these ‘hacks’ are still pretty cool ways to do more with your phone.

Create Custom Widgets

Beautiful Widgets - best android apps

Widgets are a great way to use the capabilities of certain apps right from the convenience of your home screen. Unfortunately, you tend to be limited by the imagination and aesthetic sensibilities of a given app’s developer. If you want to make your home screen really reflective of your own taste and personality, try downloading an app like Beautiful Widgets to give your phone a more personal touch. You can also set up shortcuts that keep you from having to navigate the same familiar menus time and time again.

Use “Edge Display” on your Android


The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge came with the Edge Display, a way of indicating notifications by illuminating the pixels on the beveled edge of the screen. Everyone quickly agreed that this was the absolute sexiest way to receive notifications imaginable, but the S6 Edge’s unique shape made the full Edge Display effect impossible to replicate on other devices.

Fortunately, you no longer have to languish in the uncool wasteland of LED notifications. An app called Edge Color Notifications creates a pair of sidebars on the edge of your screen that very closely replicates Edge Display. Sure, it’s not perfect since your non-S6 Edge phone probably doesn’t have a screen that wraps around the edges of your device, but it’s a pretty close second.

Download the app and start receiving notifications in a much slicker way.

Remotely Control Your Desktop Computer

Chrome Remote Desktop Play Store

Google’s Remote Desktop app makes using your Android to control your PC from anywhere a breeze. You don’t have to install any heavy software, and setup is so fast that you can be up and running in less than ten minutes. Heck, maybe even five minutes if you’re good at multitasking. There are two halves to this installation process. On one hand, you need to install and configure the Chrome app on your PC. On the other, you have to get the Android App from the Google Play store.

It’s a flexible process, but let’s start with the PC side of things.  First, download the Chrome Remote Desktop app in the Chrome Store. Once the app is installed, the interface will guide you through a chain of prompts.  Just follow the instructions and grant the app the permissions it needs, and you’ll be good to go in no time.

After Chrome Remote Desktop is installed, you will be prompted to provide a 6-digit PIN. Remember this number because you will need it to access your computer from your Android device.

Speaking of your Android device, go grab that thing and let’s get the other half of this process finished off.  On your phone, download the Chrome Remote Desktop app in the Play Store. No complications here; just install the app, open it up, tap the name of the computer you just configured, and then enter the PIN you created.

Boom. You can now control your PC using your phone from anywhere.

Record Your Screen


For a long time, recording video of an Android screen was something of a hassle. However, Android 5.0 Lollipop added screen recording API capabilities, so developers have been able to create much more stable screen recording apps.

One of these apps is AZ Screen Recorder. This app is lean, customizable, and has additional features such as a countdown timer that work together to make recording your screen a very pain-free experience. It integrates with the phone’s camera and you can even draw on the screen during videos. While other screen recording apps only offer basic recording functionality, AZ Screen Recorder lets you edit and trim videos right inside the application.

Downsides, you ask? Well, since this app leans on the new API, you’re out of luck if you don’t have Lollipop.

Play Old Games with an Emulator

n64 emulator android

Revisit your old favorite games by downloading an emulator. Having an N64 in your pocket isn’t much more than a novelty unless you invest in a physical controller for it, but Gameboy games and SNES/NES games run like a dream on Android.

I’m currently replaying through Pokemon and you better believe my Charizard was so overpowered by the time I got to Misty that her Starmie didn’t even stand a chance. Type disadvantage means nothing when you grind your team leader into a living god that feasts on the souls of a thousand unprepared Pidgeys.

Read more:

12 best emulators for Android

December 1, 2016

Re-configure Navigation Buttons


Home2 Shortcut is a brilliant little app that lets you re-assign new shortcuts to the navigation buttons that appear at the bottom of your phone’s screen. With Home2 Shortcut, you can easily configure your home button, for instance, to launch a specific app when you tap it twice. I’ve discovered that the app I use the most is Google Play Music, so assigning that as a shortcut was a no-brainer for me.

Use IFTTT to Automate your Settings

IFTTT update

In the past, Tasker was your best bet for turning your phone into a completely automatic machine that dynamically adapted to your surroundings. Although Tasker remains the most powerful option available–especially for users with programming experience–IFTTT offers many similar functions in a much more user-friendly package.

For instance, I frequently forget to turn my Android wifi back on when I get back to my house, so I have an IFTTT recipe that turns on my wifi whenever I come home. It’s not complicated, but it saves me precious mobile data.

Since IFTTT links up to so many different “channels” and services, your imagination is your only limit when it comes to concocting creative recipes. Make an account and IFTTT will recommend some pre-configured recipes for you. After using these for a little while, you’ll probably want to start crafting your own to suit your specific needs.

Change your DPI


Some phones do offer tools for changing DPI, though many do not. While it’s easy enough to change your display’s DPI if you’re rooted, the reality is that you can do it even without root. And it is actually pretty easy.

1. Enable USB debugging from Settings> Developer Options. If you’ve never enabled Developer Options before, you’ll first need to go to Settings> About Phone and then tap on “Build Number” 7 times.

2. Download and install ABD drivers and minimal ADB for Windows. After installing Minimal ADB, a command prompt will open up. Leave it open for now.

3. Connect your Android device to the PC. You may get a prompt asking you to authorize the PC for debugging, and you’ll want to tap Ok.

4. To change the DPI you’ll want to go back to the Minimal ADB command prompt window and use the following command:

adb shell wm density “DPI”

 adb reboot

Note: where “DPI” is listed, replace with the value you’d like to use. A lower DPI means more information displayed on screen. A higher DPI will do the opposite. 

5. Your device will automatically restart and you should see the change in place. If for any reason you want to reset the DPI back to the original, go back to ADB and type:

adb shell wm size reset

adb reboot


The Android operating system has come a long way in terms of what it’s capable of accomplishing without modification. While increased security features are making devices more difficult to root, this downside is offset by the incredible degree of freedom you can achieve with an Android device right out of the box. Things that would have previously required complicated modification are now as easy as installing an app and tapping a few settings.

These are our favorite rootless Android “hacks.” If you’ve got some more useful ones, let us know in the comments!

Looking for some more advanced ways to customize your phone experience? Here’s some of our favorite Tasker-oriented ‘customization’ pieces from our very own John Feist (note that many of these do require root, however):

For those that want to take the next step, here’s a piece that gives you a few things to think about if you are considering rooting your device.

  • Satish

    The game killer thing is bullshit!

    • Modman

      The Gamekiller link is down. You can get it from another source but requires root. Closes if it doesn’t find root.

  • crisban

    Surprised IFTTT got a mention over Tasker. Tasker is far and away the best way to take control of a phone without root.

    • Tony T.

      The article is geared towards less tech savvy/enthusiasts. If you’re willing to root, you’re probably willing to go through some trial and error with Tasker. Whereas IFTTT is more simplified and would appeal to a broader crowd with somewhat similar results.

  • Chad

    Gamekiller link is dead.


    I used to have game killer on Note 2 what was rooted and I was pretty sure it required rooted device! First of all link you provided says “The requested URL /gamekiller2.html was not found on this server.” so I googled it and downloaded again on my new Note 4 what is not rooted and guess what? It needs rooted device! Rest are not hacks just normal everyday shit and apps. People who can work with their phones know this is nothing special. As much as I love you Android Authority this is most pointless and most bullshit article I have ever read not saying about misleading text saying game killer doesn’t require rooted device.WTF!

  • Adriel Olvera

    The game killer doesn’t work. Couldn’t find the app.

  • jordanman

    I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it…

    Heres what I do It’sYourOwnChoiceToGetASmartLifeOrNot


  • Nick

    Game Killer’s download link is down

  • BB

    Android Authority is the most useless website for anything Android. What a completely bullshit article. No more reading anything this hack site publishes.

  • Jay

    Great article, but one problem. I’ve found AutomateIt pro to be much more powerful than IFTTT. Tasker is still without a doubt the best, and that’s what I use, but when I was a beginner, AutomateIt pro was my app. In fact, I still have a few actions I haven’t been able to figure out in Tasker that I use AutomateIt pro to take care of for me.

  • Gibbs


  • Dominic “Dom” Fischer

    Gamekiller requires root access, don’t get mislead by a popular source of information.

  • Bolla

    The website to game killer without root is no longer available. Is there another site I can go to?

  • Rysa

    You can download Game Killer from this website:

  • Amanda

    Installed Game Killer on my Android tablet and it won’t even let me go into the app without rooting. Dialogue box pops up saying I need to root then has the option for browse (to get the root file) or “cancel”. Cancel option closes the app :/

  • Tj Hariharan

    didn’t mention dpi change, something most would think requires root but doesn’t. Not to mention gamekiller requires root

  • Raphael Alexander

    Ifttt didn’t work for Me.

  • Raphael Alexander

    Game killer is fake you liers it did that stupid human verification needed thing.?????

  • Arch Stanton

    I have found, at least with the Samsung Edge 7 that there is 100% no need for rooting.
    I was an avid Cyanogenmod user, I swore by it. Every phone that supported it I changed to CM.
    I found over time CM became more buggy and things just didn’t work. From CM11 to 13 my audio would crackle while using it over Blue Tooth.
    CM 12 and 13 would recognize my 2.4 and not my 5g between updates and CM13 ultimately I would have to toggle Airplane mode to get access to the internet.

    They would add functions without fixing the older issues or work on bugs that had nothing to do with the main functionality of the device.
    The only response I would get from the mods was, it’s free now live with it. Complaints also get you banned.

    Point being, there is a free package disabler for Samsung phones and it works 100%, no root so you can disable all bloatware and it even says it can remove them as well.
    There is no need to remove anything because the Edge 7 has plenty of storage and it’s not running.
    It avoids root and it avoids tripping the warranty bit. It also allows for updating the phone. It’s ALL Win Win for everyone.

    What’s the point of rooting anyway other than getting rid of bloatware, getting extra lives on Candy Crush? NOTHING! Especially when custom roms like CM are full of bugs.

    Look, do what you want but I’m telling you as soon as I flashed Marshmallow onto my GS5 before I bought the GS7 I went from PO’ed to wow, everything works without crackling sounds.

  • Shu

    Game killer app is bs…. needs a code to open it..and u have to do surveys that dont end…. useless

  • Meline11

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  • Doris Brown

    contact for any type of hacking, he is a professional hacker that specializes in exposing cheating spouse,and every other hacking related issues. he is a cyber guru , he helps catch cheating spouse by hacking their communications like call, Facebook, text, emails, Skype and many more. i have used this service before and he did a very good job, he gave me every proof i needed to know that my fiancee was cheating. You can contact him on his email to help you catch your cheating spouse, or for any other hacking related problems, like hacking websites, bank statement, grades and many more. he will definitely help you, he has helped a lot of people, contact him and figure out your relationship status. i wish you the best too

  • chris

    Do you require the services of a hacker? for your ethical and unethical hacks,he’s time conscious,very discreet and reliable,he’s the best i’ve worked with so far and he helped do a mobile phone hack remotely.check him out and you won’t be disappointed.

  • J

    “hacks”? what are emulators doing here? custom widgets? why not custom live wallpapers too? and no mention of custom notification bars? Omega Statusbar? custom keyboards? screen dimmers for night use? always showing statusbar? terminal emulators are not “hacks” but game emulators are? these are “cool things” not “hacks”…
    please don’t spread “hack” in this way, or lots of people will be like ‘yeah, I’m a hacker, look at this cool app I have’…I’m not trying to insult offend anyone, but rather this style(and article)…there’s tons of stuff much “hackyer” than those here…even if this is meant for “noobs” and non-techies, above still applies…