How to Use the Quick Settings Menu on Android

Screen Capture Android Quick Settings Menu
Screen Capture (Marziah Karch)

The Android Quick Settings menu has been a powerful feature of Android since Android Jellybean. You can use this menu to perform all sorts of useful tasks without having to dig around in your phone apps. You may already know where this is and how to use it to quickly put your phone into airplane mode for a flight or check your battery level, but did you also know you can customize the menu?

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Get a Full or Abbreviated Quick Settings Tray

Drag down the quick settings menu
Screen Capture

The first step is to find the menu. To find the Android Quick Settings menu, just drag your finger from the top of your screen downward. If your phone is unlocked, you'll see an abbreviated menu (the screen to the left) that you can either use as-is or drag down to see an expanded quick settings tray (the screen to the right) for more options. 

The defaults available may vary slightly between phones. In addition, the apps you install on your phone may also have Quick Settings tiles that appear here. If you don't like the order or your options, you can change them. We'll get to that soon.

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Use Quick Settings When Your Phone is Locked

You don't need to unlock your phone with your pin number, password, pattern or fingerprint. If your Android is on, you can get to the Quick Settings menu. Not all the Quick Settings are available before you unlock it. You can turn on the flashlight or put your phone into airplane mode, but if you try to use a Quick Setting that might give a user access to your data, you'll be prompted to unlock your phone before proceeding.

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Edit Your Quick Settings Menu

Don't like your options? Edit them. 

To edit your Quick Settings Menu, you must have your phone unlocked.

  1. Drag down from the abbreviated menu to the fully expanded tray.
  2. Tap on the pencil icon (pictured).
  3. You'll then see the Edit menu
  4. Long-press (touch the item until you feel a feedback vibration) and then drag in order to make changes.
  5. Drag tiles into the tray if you want to see them and out of the tray if you do not.
  6. You can also change the order of where Quick Settings tiles appear. The first six items will show up in the abbreviated Quick Settings menu.

Tip: you may have more available choices than you think. Sometimes there are more tiles if you scroll downwards (drag your finger from the bottom of the screen upward.) 

Now let's look at some of the Quick Settings tiles and what they do.

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Wi-Fi

The Wi-Fi setting shows you which Wi-Fi network you're using (if any) and tapping the settings icon will show you available networks in your area. You can also go to the full Wi-Fi settings menu to add more networks and control advanced options, such as whether you want your phone to automatically connect to open Wi-Fi networks or stay connected even when in sleep mode.

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Cellular Data

The Cellular data button shows you which cellular network you're connected to (this is generally going to be your regular carrier) and how strong your data connection is. This will also let you know if you don't have a strong signal or if you are in roaming mode. 

Tapping on the setting will show you how much data you've used in the last month and let you toggle your cellular network antenna on or off. You can also use this option to turn off your cellular data and keep your Wi-Fi on in case you are on a flight that offers Wi-Fi access.

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Battery

The Battery tile is probably already familiar to most phone users. It shows you the level of charge for your battery and whether or not your battery is currently charging. If you tap on it while charging, you'll see a graph of your recent battery use.

If you tap on it while your phone is not charging, you'll see an estimate of how much time is remaining on your battery and the option to go into Battery Saver mode, which dims the screen slightly and tries to conserve power.

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Flashlight

The flashlight turns on the flash on the back of your phone so you can use it as a flashlight. There's no deeper option here. Just toggle it on or off to get somewhere in the dark. You don't need to unlock your phone to use this.

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Cast

If you have a Chromecast and Google Home installed, you can use the Cast tile to quickly connect to a Chromecast device. Although you could connect from the app (Google Play, Netflix, or Pandora for example) connecting first and then casting saves you time and makes navigation a little easier.

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Auto-rotate

Control whether or not your phone displays horizontally when you rotate it horizontally. You can use this as a quick toggle to prevent the phone from auto-rotating when you're reading in bed, for example. Keep in mind that the Android Home menu is locked into horizontal mode regardless of the state of this tile. 

If you long-press on the Auto-rotate tile, it will take you to the display settings menu for advanced options.

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Bluetooth

Toggle your phone's Bluetooth antenna on or off by tapping on this tile. You can long-press in order to pair more Bluetooth devices.

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Airplane Mode

Airplane mode turns your phone's Wi-Fi and cellular data off. Tap this tile to quickly toggle Airplane mode on and off or long-press on the tile to see the Wireless and Networks settings menu. 

Tip: Airplane mode isn't just for airplanes. Toggle this on for the ultimate do not disturb while saving your battery.

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Do Not Disturb

The Do not disturb tile allows you to control your phone's notifications. Tap on this tab and you will both turn Do not disturb on and enter a menu allowing you to customize how undisturbed you want to be. Toggle it off if this was a mistake.

Total silence lets nothing through, while priority only hides most of the nuisance disturbances like notifications that there's a new sale on books.

You can also specify how long you want to remain undisturbed. Set a time or keep it in Do not disturb mode until you turn it off again.

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Location

 Location toggles your phone's GPS on or off.

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Hotspot

Hotspot allows you to use your phone as a mobile hotspot to share your data service with other devices, such as your laptop. This is also known as tethering. Some carriers charge you for this feature, so use with care.

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Invert colors

This tile inverts all the colors on your screen and in all apps. You can use this if inverting the colors makes it easier for you to see the screen.

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Data Saver

Data Saver attempts to save on your data usage by turning off a lot of apps that use background data connections. Use this if you have a limited bandwidth cellular data plan. Tap to toggle it on or off.

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Nearby

The Nearby tile was added by Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) although it was not added to the default Quick Settings tray. It allows you to share information between an app on two nearby phones - essentially a social sharing feature. You need an app that takes advantage of the Nearby feature in order for this tile to work. Example apps include Trello and Pocket Casts.