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Android OS tips and tricks

UPDATED for Android 2.+:

Android is a very powerful and very customizable OS.  Here are some tips that might help you along the way.  These definitely aren't the only way to do things, nor will they be the preferred method that people choose.  Feel free to add your suggestions to this document or put them in the comments below and I'll add them.  If you need more details send me an email through this forum.

  • TASK MANAGERS ARE COMPLETELY UNNCESSARY. You do not need to Force Close applications on your Android phone.  Android knows when to shut down programs if you haven't properly backed out of them.  There is a built in Task Manager on Android 2.+.  Menu -> Settings -> Applications -> Running Services.  Don't force close things like voicemail, phone apps, Messages app, etc. You will miss text messages, phone calls, etc.  Great article located here.


  • Contacts, Calendar and Google Sync: It is best to take a few minutes (or hours) plunking all your contacts into your google account online (Gmail Contacts).  In the least you can enter names and phone numbers.  You can also easily add several phones, several email addresses, home postal addresses, birthdays, etc.  You can import contacts into google contacts several ways and from several different programs....Just export your contacts using a .CSV file and then import into Gmail contacts.  Gmail Contacts also automatically detects duplicate contacts so you can keep your contacts clean.  The HTC Hero or Evo will also sync with your MS exchange contacts as well.  As you add new contacts to your phone, make them "google" contacts under type of contact.  These will automatically sync with your Android powered phone (Menu -> Settings -> Accounts and Sync).  The reason you want to use this method is that it will always be backed up in case you A) lose your phone, B) damage your phone or C) have to update your phone.  Doing this now will save you tons of time in the future.  (As a bonus, you can SMS and call people directly from Gmail).  Inorder for this to work seamlessly, you must have the background data synchronization turned on (Menu -> Settings -> Accounts and Sync).  You may choose to update these items yourself manually and save a ton of battery life, but then you wouldn't be using the best feature of a google Android phone.

  • To exit an application use the "back arrow" hardkey until you back out of the application.  Hitting the "home" key will leave the app running in the background, which is okay if you are going to be using it frequently.  Android will close this application when it needs to free up RAM.  It is good to get in the practice of backing out of apps rather than hitting the home key.

  • Calibrate your keyboard and accelerometer. Menu -> settings -> Language & Keyboard -> Touch Input -> Text Input -> Calibration Tool

  • Remove saved words from your dictionary: If you add words to your dictionary on accident like "di" instead of "if" or "do" then you can erase all saved words in your dictionsary, you can also remove single words from the list of remembered words.  Menu -> settings -> Language & Keyboard -> Touch Input -> User Dictionary.  Then you can add and remove words as necessary.

  • If you can't find options first try "Menu" hardkey, then try long pressing on it.

  • MicroSD cards are used to store information, the HTC Hero and Samsung Moment came with a 2GB microSD card stock, the HTC Evo4G comes with an 8GB card already.  In Android 2.2+ you are able to run some of your applications directly off your SD Card (that's up to the developer, don't expect to move them all over automatically.....a good app for this is SDmove).  Currently the Samsung Moment, HTC Hero and HTC Evo4G all support up to 32GB microSD cards.  The best cards to get are that of "class 6" rating.  (it will have a little 6 within a circle on it).  8GB class 6 cards are ~ 15-20 bucks on amazon.com.  32GB Micro SDHC cards are very expensive still.

  • File Browsers:  ASTRO File Manager is a free (currently) application in the Android Market.  You can use a file manager to manager your files on your SD card directly from your phone.  This will allow you to copy, paste, delete, rename, or create folders, files and directories like you would from your desktop or laptop computer.  This particular app also has a utility to back up your applications to your SD card (again, the apps can't run off your SD card, they are just stored there).  This is a handy feature when you need to do factory resets OR firmware upgrades.  Another handy backup application is BookmarkBR which makes a backup file of your Browser applications web bookmarks.  Before firmware upgrades it is recommended to back up these items.  You may also find a program that will backup your SMS and MMS messages if they are needed after firmware or factory resets.  Your emails are held on the server and will repopulate after you update or reset your phone.

  • Any MP3 can be made into a ringer by using the built in HTC ringtone trimmer or Ringdroid (which is a more complete app that allows better fine tuning).  Alternatively, one can just search an App like "Zedge" which has tons of free ringtones and wallpapers.  Tip: Make three folders somewhere on your SD card named "ringers", "notifications" and "alarms".  Then place your ringers, etc. into the appropriate folders.  This will make them appear in the Notifications sounds when you are setting a specific ringtone.  You can manage your SD card from your phone by using Astro File Manager (Market) or by plugging it into a computer and mounting it as a disk drive (see above).

  • Managing music: connect your Android phone to a PC and select USB Connected, then Mount SD Card.  This will mount your phone's SD card like a flash or thumb drive on your computer.  You can just drag and drop MP3s or other formats directly on to your SD card anywhere and the Music app will recognize it. If you want to organize your music it might make it easier to add and remove in the future.  When finished make sure to "Turn off USB storage" before disconnecting the device.

  • Downloading / Removing apps from the Android Market: You can easily add apps from the market by following the installation instructions.  If you ever want to remove an application, go to the Android Market -> downloads section and remove the app using this method.  There are other ways to remove applications, this (I feel) is the best so it is off your account).  If you have paid for an app and you want to remove it (after the 24 hour refund time) you will be able to reinstall the application free of charge as long as you use the same google account on the phone.  Periodically you can check for application updates by visiting the Android Market -> Downloads section.  It is good to read the release notes on the application updates.  Some updates will only add advertising to the application, which can be an annoyance.

  • Rountinely Clearing the Cache on your phone: If your phone appears to be sluggish or running out of room.  You can go into Menu -> Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications.  Once the list populates (may take a while), you can order them by size.  Clearing the cache on the apps that are consuming the most ROM and RAM is a good idea occasionally.  The two apps that have the biggest caches are the Browser and Albums.  Clearing the cache frees up memory and may improve the speed of your phone.  It also doesn't hurt to reboot the phone once a week to clean out the memory.  Warning, by "Force Closing" apps that are crucial to the OS in this section of Manage Applications you can cause your phone to miss text messages, alarms, etc.  Don't Force Close the app unless you know exactly what that application does.

  • Holding down the "Home" key (while in apps or not) will give you a list of the last 6 - 8 applications that are either open or were open.  This allows you to quickly switch between them to take advantage of the multitaksing of the phone.

  • When in your browser, holding the "back arrow" key will bring up your history which makes it easier to find cached webpages.

  • Google Search by Voice: you can long press the search key when on your home screen and it will bring up the google voice search that will search the web, you can also access applications, say things like "call: John Doe Mobile" or "Navigate to McDonald's".  Quick press the key for the text search option.....you can easily search the web, applications, people, etc..  In certain applications, you can use the search key to find things within that application.  Example: you can search your installed applications quickly when in your app drawer.

  • Copy and Paste:  you can copy and paste text by long pressing on that item.  This works very well in the HTC Mail application and browser.  This currently does not work with the Gmail application.  On the Evo, copy and paste also gives you other options, you can highlight a word or string of words and then search that word, look up a definition, or copy to clipboard.

  • Factory Data Reset: Warning, back up all your data first before doing this.  This will wipe all your data and return the phone to the original factory state. This can be performed by going through the menus to reset the data (Menu -> Settings -> Privacy -> factory data reset -> Reset Phone -> Erase everything) OR by the key stroke method (for HTC Hero only): Power the device OFF. Press and hold the Home and Back Arrow buttons.  While holding these buttons, press and hold the End Call button.  Release End Call, Home and Back arrow buttons and press the Trackball once to execute the Hard Reset.  You should see some skateboarding android robots. Follow the prompts to clear the data and reset the device.  The device will reboot once the process is complete. ***Many HTC Hero users are reporting that before they upgrade to 2.1, they first hard reset 1.5, skip the set up steps, then flash the new 2.1 RUU -- this apparently can improve some fuctions, however in my experience both Heroes I've had work wonderfully without doing this***

  • Hard reset to clear the Dalvik cache. To reset the Evo properly:
    1. Turn the power off. If your HTC EVO 4G is frozen, pull the battery out and reinsert it
    2. Hold the Volume Down button
    3. Press and release the Power button
    4. You are now presented with a menu that allows for Fastbook, Recovery, Clear Storage, and Simlock
    5. Select Clear Storage by pressing the Volume Down button
    6. Press and release the Power button
    7. Now simply confirm your decision: Volume Up for YES and Volume Down for NO

Version history
Revision #:
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Last update:
‎02-08-2010 11:55 AM
Updated by:
 
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