35 best Android tutorials, tips and tricks

Whether you're new to Android or a seasoned pro, there will be something in our list of the 35 most useful Android tips and tricks to take your fancy. Here we show you exactly how to do that thing you really want to do on your Android phone or tablet. Also see: best Android tablets and best Android smartphones 2014. 

For each tip just click on the headline to view more detailed step-by-step instructions. Also see: 30 best iPhone tutorials. 

1. How to use Android 

If you are new to Android, a good place to start is with our beginner's guide to Android. We'll show you exactly how to use and get the most out of your Android smartphone or tablet. 

2. How to update Android OS 

To get the best performance from your Android phone or tablet you should ensure you're always running the latest available software for it. Android is heavily criticised for its device fragmentation - as of 12 August only 20.9 percent of devices were running Android KitKat - so it may be that an operating system update isn't available for your model. Or it might be that one is available and you simply haven't installed it. Follow our tips to check whether an Android update is available and, if so, how to install that update. 

3. How to get Android L now 

Some of us don't do waiting. The next version of Android, for now known only as Android L, isn't expected until the autumn, but if you're not prepared to wait and you have a Nexus 7 tablet or Nexus 5 smartphone you can download it now. Follow our advice to see how. 

4. How to unlock Android  

With the best intentions you set up a pattern-, PIN- or password lock for your Android phone or tablet. Now you're experiencing sudden memory loss and you can't remember how to access your device. Don't hang around locked out - we'll show you how to bypass those security measures. 

5. How to factory reset an Android phone or tablet  

If you're about to sell or give away your device or are having problems with your Android phone or tablet, a factory reset might be in order. Note that this wipes all the data on your device, so if you are planning on hanging on to it make sure you have that stuff backed up in a safe place. Our instructions are for tablets running Honeycomb or later, but the process should also apply to your Android smartphone. 

6. How to change your Google ID 

It's quite possible to assign more than one Google ID to your phone or tablet, which may be useful if, like me, you have both personal and business Google accounts. Switching between the two is also simple, although you should note that any content purchased through one ID will be locked to that account. Here's how to change your Google ID. 

7. How to delete Android devices from Google Play  

Google not only keeps track of the apps you download but the devices you use to log into your Google account. We review a lot of Android phones and tablets here at PC Advisor, so naturally that list can become rather confused - especially when some devices are referred to by their model name rather than their actual product name. Luckily you can remove these devices from Google Play. 

8. How to undo updates on Android apps  

Time and again you'll hear that you should always ensure you're running the latest software. In fact, we told you as much in tip 2. But when it comes to apps, occasionally you'll download a new update only to find it's buggy or crashes. Sometimes, if it ain't broke, you should just leave it alone. Fortunately it is possible to revert to older versions of an Android app. 

9. How to password-protect Android apps 

I hate having password security on my smartphone. My phone never leaves my side and, to be honest, if you can somehow manage to prise it away from me then you fully deserve access to whatever's stored on it. But there are some apps on my phone I'd rather no-one else got to see, if only to stop my boyfriend telling all my Facebook friends that I just ran over a cat. (I didn't. And he isn't funny.) I prefer to use a free app that lets you lock down only certain apps on your device, rather than password-protecting the whole lot. 

10. How to set up parental controls on Android  

Kids are increasingly tech-savvy these days, and even a toddler will manage to use your Android phone or tablet in ways you didn't even know where possible. Fortunately, with Android Jelly Bean came the provision for parental control in Android via restricted profiles. We'll show you how to set up restricted profiles and keep your kids safe. 

11. How to set any song as a ringtone on Android 

Anyone can set a ringtone on their Android phone, but how do you set a specific song as your ringtone? More accurately, how do you set just a specific portion - say, the chorus - as your ringtone? We'll show you how to edit an MP3 using a free Android app, then set it as either your ringtone or notification tone. 

12. How to take a screenshot on Android  

 

You don't realise quite how useful is the ability to take a screenshot on an Android phone or tablet until you start doing so. Perhaps you want to capture a segment of a map to view offline, or you want to save a snapshot of your shopping basket, or you want to grab a screen from a video, or you want evidence of a particular email or text conversation, or whatever. The process of taking a screenshot in Android varies by device. We'll show you the options. 

13. How to send group texts 

Most of the time we stick to just the one texting partner, but if you're tyring to arrange a group meeting such as a book club or a pub crawl then the ability to send texts to multiple recipients is a boon. We're not talking simply about adding several recipients to a single message - we'll show you how to ensure the whole group gets to follow the entire conversation. 

14. How to copy and paste on Android 

If you're the sort of person who responds to chain messages and texts, you already know how useful a capability is copy and paste. For the rest of us, how much easier would your life be if you were able to copy from one app data such as phone numbers and addresses and paste it into another app, rather than trying to remember that info and repeatedly going to and fro between the two? Copying and pasting on Android is easy; here's how to do it. 

15. How to use OK Google from any screen on your phone 

You've probably seen the TV ads for OK Google, but what is OK Google and how do you use it? We explain everything you need to know about OK Google, including how to access the Google Now voice search from any screen on your phone - even if you live outside the US. 

16. How to use Google Device Manager  

You would never believe it was possible for someone to lose phone after phone after phone, even phones that are on loan for review and don't even belong to them. But it is. Just ask David Court, PCA's ex-online editor who is now losing phone after phone for PC Pro. (Probably.) If you're also pretty good at losing your phone, or worse your phone is stolen, Google Device Manager is your best friend. Provided you've set it up in advance, you can remotely track and/or wipe a lost or stolen phone. You can also cause it to sound an alarm in case you suspect it is somewhere nearby. We'll send DC the link. 

17. How to stop Android apps automatically updating  

If you have a lot of apps on your Android phone or tablet, it can become annoying having to constantly approve app updates. So maybe you've set all apps to update automatically. For many users, especially beginners, that's the recommended strategy. But if apps are automatically updating over a 3G/4G connection and you have a limited data plan then it can become a problem. We'll show you how to stop those pesky apps automatically updating in Android. 

18. How to transfer files and apps to SD card 

If you've got a cheap Android phone or tablet then it may have very little internal storage. Even if you have a more expensive device, many are supplied with just 16GB of internal storage. Given that the Android OS itself will take up a couple of gigs, that doesn't leave a lot of room for photos, videos, apps and more. Fortunately, more and more Android phones and tablets are coming with support for storage expansion through microSD. Photos and videos are simple to move on to the SD card; apps can be a little more tricky, however, and some devices will let you move only part of an app's data to SD. We'll show you how to transfer your files and apps to microSD in Android. 

19. How to fix Android's insufficient storage available error 

Still on the theme of storage, that little icon that pops up in the notification bar warning us that we're running low on storage, or the notification that an app update hasn't been installed due to insufficient storage available, really drives us nuts. And that's an understatement. If you've already followed the advice in our above tip, and moved everything you can to the microSD card, it can feel like you're running out of options. You're not. 

20. How to get more storage on Android 

We're in danger of banging on about it now, but insufficient storage is a massive wind up when it stops us doing what we want to do. Luckily, there are several options for getting more storage space for your stuff, and not all start with micro and end with SD. 

21. How to connect an Android phone or tablet to a TV  

Tablets are perfect for individual users – lightweight with very long battery life, and with bright, sharp screens that make light work of everything from watching films to reviewing photos. Bigger crowds call for bigger screens, though: here’s how to connect your tablet to your TV without spending a fortune or drowning in a sea of cables. 

22. How to use your Android smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot  

There's nothing worse than working on the go, from a hotel room or airport for example, to find there's no Wi-Fi internet access, or that it's so rubbish it keeps dropping out. Alternatively, what happens if your ISP serving your home network goes down and leaves you without access to the web? We'll show you how your Android phone or tablet can save the day. 

23. How to set a data usage limit on Android 

An Android smartphone or tablet is a great way to access the web and web-enabled services on the move. But such appsand websites can drain your mobile data usage, leaving you with a hefty bill at the end of the month. Here we show you how to set monthly limits for mobile data use, so you get a warning when you are nearing your limit, and cut off cellulardata if you are about to cost yourself money. 

24. How to avoid data roaming charges on Android  

If you’ve read recent scare stories of massive mobile data roaming charges – where naïve users have racked up thousands of pounds on their mobile bills just by browsing the internet or downloading a few files or email attachments – then you might be worried about taking your Android smartphone abroad with you. Don't be, at least not when armed with our tips. 

25. How to download YouTube videos on Android 

YouTube is one of the most popular apps for Android. The only problem is it doesn't work offline - at least not yet. While we don't advocate the downloading of YouTube videos (also see is it illegal to download YouTube videos), where there is a will there is a way.  

26. How to play YouTube videos in the background on Android  

YouTube isn't just great for watching video, it's also a useful platform for listening to music. Until you decide you want to do something else on your Android device, like send a text or go online. YouTube doesn't like it when you play with other apps. But you can force YouTube to continue playing videos in the background whether it likes it or not. 

27. How to transfer music and files to Android 

Your Android phone or tablet is as good a platform as any for watching movies, listening to music, viewing photos and documents and more. So how do you get those things on there so you can do all that neat stuff? We'll show you how. 

28. How to transfer your iTunes library to Android 

Were you once an iOS user and have now seen the light? Well done, you made a great choice. The only tiny problem with switching platform loyalty is what to do with all that content you've purchased or have stored on the previous OS. Want to know how to get your music collection from the iTunes account on your PC to your Android device? You're in the right place. 

29. How to add Flash to Android  

 

Adobe may have cut support for Flash in Android Jelly Bean and beyond, but the great many sites and services that continue to make heavy use of the standard suggest it's far from dead. For those of us relying on a Jelly Bean or KitKat phone or tablet as our main computer, and who still want to access Flash content such as catch-up TV, online games and video, it's a real problem. Here's how to get around the issue and add Flash to Android, including Android KitKat. 

30. How to install WhatsApp on an Android tablet 

According to WhatsApp, you can't install and use its instant-messaging service on a Wi-Fi-only tablet. Yes, you can. We'll show you how to use WhatsApp on an Android tablet with no 3G or 4G connectivity, and how to bypass its phone number verification system. 

31. How to stop WhatsApp saving photos, video and media on your Android phone 

On the subject of WhatsApp, its tendency to save any media sent to you on your device can be an issue if you're short on storage. (Once again we refer you to tips 18, 19 and 20.) The good news is a simple tweak will put a stop to WhatsApp saving photos, video and other media to your device. 

32. How to watch US Netflix on an Android phone or tablet  

They get all the good stuff the other side of the pond. That's not fair, and if we're all paying for the same service then we don't accept not fair. Using a VPN app will allow you to watch American Netflix on your Android smartphone or tablet in the UK. 

33. How to get free Kindle books on your Android  

Android has its own bookstore via Google Play, but it's nowhere near as good as Amazon's alternative. Plus, there are literally thousands of Kindle books that you can download for free on your Android smartphone or tablet. 

34. How to play Android apps on a PC  

Well, this is PC Advisor after all. There are various methods of running Android apps on a PC, but they can be tricky to set up and vary greatly in the levels of performance and compatibility provided. Genymotion is relatively simple to install and provides pre-packaged Android installations that  you can download and run on your PC. Best of all, it’s fast and supports accelerated graphics quick enough to run even some 3D Android games. 

35. How to root Android phones and tablets 

Rooting an Android device is the process of gaining privileged or full control of the sub-system or operating system. This gives the user root access and hence is known as 'rooting'. It's a bit like having a VIP pass at a gig - you can go anywhere you like. It's not for the faint-hearted, but if you're willing to give it a try then we'll show you how to root your Android device.

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