If you share an Android device with other people, it can be rough to keep your account separate from theirs. Fortunately, Android supports multiple user profiles, allowing users to share devices without fear of encroaching on each other.
What Are User Profiles on Android?
If you have (or have ever used) a shared Windows PC, then you may already be familiar with the concept here: everyone has their own login, complete with their own apps and settings. It’s like having multiple machines wrapped into one.
Not a lot of people realize this, but Android has a very similar feature built in called User Profiles. This is more than just adding a second Google account alongside your primary—this is literally an entirely different profile, with its own apps, settings, wallpaper, and the like. Again, like having two devices in one. When you add a new profile, it literally goes through the entire setup process like a brand new device. It’s super cool.
There is a downside, however: performance. In short, the more users on the phone, the crappier the performance. In order to make switching between them quick, they effectively run at the same time—the others just keep ticking along in the background.
So, as you can imagine, the more apps installed on each profile, the worse performance will be. Just something to keep in mind if you plan to set up your entire family on a single tablet.
How to Set Up User Profiles on Android
If you have a shared device and are into the idea, setting up a new user profile is easy peasy. You can do this on Android phones with Lollipop (Android 5.0) and above, as well as tablets with KitKat (Android 4.4.). Tablets also offer an exclusive “Restricted Profile” for shared devices with kids.
Note: This option may not be available on all devices. Some manufacturers, like Samsung, remove it from their phones.
To get started, go ahead and give the notification shade a tug, then tap the gear icon.
On Android Nougat and below, scroll down to the “Users’ entry. On Oreo, it’s “Users & Accounts,” then you’ll tap the “Users” entry. From this point forward, the two should be pretty much identical.
To add a new account, just tap the “New User” button. A dialog will pop up asking you confirm the new user addition.
On tablets, you’ll be asked to choose whether you want to add a regular account or restricted.
At this point, you can choose to set the new user up now or wait till later. If you choose to set it up now, you’ll immediately be “logged out” of the profile you’re currently using and tossed into the setup menu.
It starts with a short warning on what to expect from this profile. Once you continue, it’s basically like setting up a new device from scratch.
From here, just log in to your Google account and set the phone up like normal.
By default, calls and text messages will be disabled on the new user profile. To enable this, log back into the admin account (instructions on profile switching are below) and jump into the Users menu again. Tap the cog icon next to the new user’s name, then toggle the “Turn on phone calls and SMS” option.
How to Switch Between Profiles
To switch profiles, pull down the notification shade twice and tap the user icon. On Nougat and below, this is found at the top of the bar. On Oreo, it’s at the bottom.
Once you tap it, you’ll be presented with a list of the current users. Tap one to switch profiles.
That’s literally all there is to it.
How to Remove a User Profile
If you get to a point where you no longer need multiple profiles on a device, you can easily remove the additional profiles. Unfortunately, there’s no way to remove the Admin account—which is always the one used during the initial setup process—so you can’t pass the device on to the new user and make them the admin. At that point, you’ll have to just factory reset the phone.
Note: Only the admin account can remove profiles.
To remove any additional profiles, however, just jump back into the Users menu and tap on the cog icon next to the user’s name.
From there, select “Remove User.”
This will remove the account and all the associated data.