android settings screen

Android has loads of settings available to let you customize your smartphone and give you control over security and privacy.

A lot of important Android settings are enabled by default, including the popular Find My Device feature. However, there a few Androud settings that need to be turned on (or off) manually to take your Android game to the next level.

Disable app shortcuts

New apps downloaded from the Play Store appear on your home screen as shortcuts by default. This is an annoying feature that doesn’t add much value, as not every app you download is important enough to take up precious space on the home screen. It’s especially annoying when you get a new phone and the device automatically downloads all the apps tied to your account, leaving you with dozens of icons to clean up.

Thankfully, it’s super easy to disable the feature. Long press on the home screen and tap the “Home settings” option that appears below. Then just switch off the “Add icon to Home screen” option and you’re good to go.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Long press on one of your home screens.
  2. Tap the “Home screen” option that appears below.
  3. Toggle off the “Add icon to Home screen” Android settings option.

Opt out of personalized ads

Google likes to track your online activities to learn more about you and show you personalized ads based on your interests, all in hopes of increasing the chances of you clicking on one of them. If you search for “cheap smartphones” on Google hoping to find a good deal on a handset, you’ll soon see ads from various retailers selling phones.

Some people don’t have a problem with Google’s strategy, while others do. If you’re part of the latter group, opting out of personalized ads is the way to go. To do so, go to Settings > Google > Ads and tap on “Opt out of Ads Personalization.”

This doesn’t mean those annoying ads will magically disappear from the internet. You’ll still see them, but they won’t be based on your interests anymore.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open the Android settings menu.
  2. Tap on “Google.”
  3. Select “Ads.”
  4. Tap the “Opt out of Ads Personalization” option.

Enable instant apps

Instant Apps lets you use an app without needing to fully download it onto your phone: just find it in the Play Store and select “Open App.” This is handy for apps you’ll only use once (or once in a while) and for those you’d like to try out before downloading. It’s sort of like taking a car for a test drive and then deciding whether to buy it.

Video: Android Instant Apps: what do they mean for users and developers?

To use the feature, you first have to enable it. Go to Settings > Google > Instant Apps and then tap on your Google account. Only a small number of apps support this feature for now, but that will change over time.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open the settings menu.
  2. Tap on “Google.”
  3. Select “Instant Apps.”
  4. Select the Google account to use with the feature.

Adjust Doze mode

Introduced with Android Marshmallow, Doze mode helps save battery life by shutting off network access if your phone goes unused for a while. Apps still work in the background, so you’ll get high-priority notifications like phone calls, texts, and so on right away. But other notifications might come through with a delay, which could be a problem if you’re expecting an important email from your boss or a message on Slack from a colleague.

Read next: 5 best battery saver apps for Android

You can quickly fix that by disabling Doze for the apps that are important to you. Go to Settings > Battery > Battery optimizations, where you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your phone. Then just turn off Doze for the apps you want by tapping on them and selecting “Don’t optimize.”

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open the settings menu.
  2. Tap on “Battery.’
  3. Select “Battery optimizations.”
  4. Tap on an app and select “Don’t optimize” to turn off Doze.

Hide sensitive info from the lock screen

You can check out notifications like texts and emails right on the lock screen of your Android device. Although this is a great feature to have, it isn’t the best when it comes to privacy. Other people can view these messages (or at least parts of them) if they get their hands on your device, even though it is locked.

To tighten up your privacy, you can choose to hide sensitive notifications on the lock screen. Just go to Settings > Notifications, and tap the gear icon in the top-right corner. Then select “On the lock screen” followed by “Hide sensitive notification content”.

Then next time you get a notification (like an SMS), the content of the message as well as the sender’s name won’t be displayed on the lock screen. Your nosy friends won’t see anything for your eyes only.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open the Andriod settings menu.
  2. Tap on “Notifications.”
  3. Select the gear icon in the top-right corner.
  4. Tap “On the lock screen” followed by “Hide sensitive notification content.”

These are our picks for the Android settings you should consider changing to level up things like security, privacy, and productivity. If you think of a few more that could be added to the list, make sure you let us know in the comments below.

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