How-To Geek

Lesson 2: Managing Your Installed Applications

Android 2

So you know the basics of Android, but what next? Our first real stop on the road to mastering Google’s mobile OS is to help you understand how to manage and organize your installed applications, deal with settings and permissions, or get rid of applications you don’t want.

Apps are great, but the more you download, the more your phone feels cluttered, and those apps take up precious storage. Managing your apps is all about uninstalling the stuff you don’t need, and organizing your shortcuts so finding the app you need isn’t like finding a needle in a haystack.

We’ll also discuss managing your account from Google Play. You may not know that much about app permissions, so we’ll explain that, and we’ll also explain how to turn auto-updates off.

Finally, we’ll actually dig deep into the application settings to show you the amount of power that Android gives you over your apps. There’s so much there that you may not even know about: you can force apps to stop, clear out the data cache, and perform other troubleshooting steps when things go haywire.

Manage Your Home Screen Shortcuts

In the last lesson, we talked about the home screen and app drawer. Your entire collection of apps appears in your app drawer, but your home screen is where you can really customize things. You can show only the shortcuts you want, put them in folders, and otherwise organize them for maximum efficiency. Here are all the useful things you can do.

Adding a Shortcut to Your Home Screen

To add a shortcut to your home screen, first open the app drawer and find the app you want. Tap and hold on its icon. The app drawer will fade from view and you will see you home screen.

You can drop the icon wherever you want. Drag the shortcut to the screen edge if you want to place your shortcut on a different home screen.

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Once you’ve chosen where you want to place the shortcut, simply release your finger.

Rearranging Shortcuts on the Home Screen

If you want to rearrange shortcuts so they’re in a certain order, you can easily move them around. Just choose the shortcut you want to move, long-press it, then drag it to where you want it to be. An outline of the icon will show up to show you were it’ll be placed. It’s all really intuitive.

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If you want to move a shortcut to where another shortcut already resides, simply “nudge” the one you want to supplant out of the way. See the screenshot below and note how the Camera icon battles the Play Store for the honor of sitting in the bottom-right corner. Victory for the camera!

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Removing Shortcuts from the Home Screen

To remove shortcuts from your home screen, simply long-press the one you want to delete, and then flick it to towards the top of the screen. It’s both effective and satisfying!

If you’re not the flicking type, you can also drag it to the word “remove” to get rid of it. It’s just not as fun.

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Organizing Your Shorctuts in Folders

Folders are a great way to consolidate up similar types of shortcuts and place them in a group. When you tap on the folder, it will expand and you can pick the app you want to launch–kind of like having mini app drawers on your home screen.

To create a folder, you must have at least two shortcuts you want to group. Long-press one of the icons, drag it on top of the other, and release it when a white halo appears around the bottom shortcut. So easy.

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You’ll then see that it forms a folder, which you can then add more apps to (again, by dragging them on top of the folder) and then move them around and order as you see fit.

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You can also give the folder a name by tapping on “Unnamed Folder.” The keyboard will pop up, and you can name it whatever you’d like.

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When you’re done, your home screen will look much nicer.

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You can also put folders in the app tray along the bottom, which will appear on all of your home screens.

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Uninstall Apps from the App Drawer

There are a lot of ways to uninstall an app, and we’ll talk about your different options later in this lesson. But the easiest way to uninstall an app is right from the app drawer.

Open your app drawer and press and hold the app you want to remove, the app drawer will then recede as if you were going to place a shortcut, but note that you also can drag the item to “App info” and “Uninstall” along the top of the screen.

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If you do this with a built-in app such as the Play Store or Maps, you will simply be given the option to open “app info.” Remember, you can’t uninstall the default, built-in apps but you can disable them. But for any other app, you can uninstall it in one fell swoop.

Google Play

Google Play is Google’s app store, and with nearly 2.5 million app as of September 2016, you’re sure to find something you need. For every iOS app out there, there is almost always an Android equivalent.

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That said, what we really want to concentrate on is the stuff associated with your account–specifically the apps associated with your account, their permissions, and how apps update.

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Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and died-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.


Cameron Summerson is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Published 11/8/16

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