5 tips for maximizing your Android screen space

Your Android device makes life easier, but no doubt you sometimes wish you could simplify using that too. Your home screen (or screens) can make a big difference, and there are many ways to clear space on your smartphone or tablet so everything you want is at your fingertips. Here are five tips on how to make the most of what you've got.

No matter how tricked-out your Android layout is, you'll always find something new you want to do that takes one click too many to reach. Just as all projects go over budget, all your favorite apps and bookmarks are sure to spill over beyond your home screen. There's no one perfect solution for everyone, but there are a few habits and tools that can help keep your digital life close at hand.

Be ruthless. Clear your device of any applications you don't use, and clear your home screen of everything you don't either use every day (like Foursquare) or need to access instantly (like the QikCam photo widget). You shouldn't agonize over your choices--remember that you can always add apps or widgets back in if you miss them too much.

Organize. This is key. Just a few minutes of rearranging icons can save you time, energy, and frustration over the long term. You don't need to arrange everything alphabetically; just make sure that your screens make sense to you. Typically the home screen is best for frequently used apps, while other nearby screens are for apps you want to be able to access quickly (but don't need to access instantly). Having themed screens such as a media screen and a fitness screen often works well.

An office-themed screen
An office-themed screen

Use folders. If you don't mind two-click access, adding a folder or two to your home screen can add acres of virtual screen space. It's easy: just long-press the screen, select "Folders," and select a type, typically "New folder." To name the folder, open the folder by tapping it, then long-press the extra-boring default name ("Folder") and type in a new, memorable name. Organize these folders however you like, but it's best to keep each one down to 12 items for easiest access.

Rely on notifications and streams. Do you really need your e-mail or Gmail apps available on your home screen? Unless you're initiating new messages every day, the answer is probably no. In your account settings, just make sure that your apps check for e-mail frequently and deliver notifications to the top bar. This can also work well for Facebook and other services that deliver notifications in the top bar or can be accessed as streams on less valuable screen real estate.

Renaming a folder
Renaming a folder

Try SmartWidget or other app launchers. SmartWidget is a useful, free app with a widget that takes up four slots on your screen, which seems like far too much until you learn its secret. It gives you access to the four most frequently used apps on your device--except those that are already on the home screen. This is a clever bit of wizardry that could save some time and effort for those of us who are constantly installing new apps. There are plenty of other app launchers out there, so find the one that works best for you.

SmartWidget app launcher
SmartWidget app launcher
About the author

    Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.

     

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