Tag Archive | "customization"

Forget battery life, get Ambient Display notifications on any device – Android customization

Tasker Ambient Display Notification

We’re taking a little break from our Android Wear projects on our Android customization series, we were going to return to root tips, tools and tricks this week, but our project will work on most any phone or tablet. We’d like to take a look at a feature that is found on only a few devices today, and make it work on any Android phone or tablet.

The idea is simple, many new devices with AMOLED displays come equipped with a feature called Ambient Display, simply turning the display on for a few seconds to show you new notifications. This is a handy feature, one that is predominantly reserved for devices with AMOLED displays simply for battery preservation purposes.

Like I said, forget about battery life, we want the feature on our old-school Nexus tablet. For this we turn to our old friend, Tasker, and the plug-in Secure Settings.

Before we begin

You will require a fairly modern device to follow along today, we are having success with Marshmallow and Lollipop devices, but not as much luck on an older KitKat device. Go ahead and install Tasker and Secure Settings, Tasker is $ 2.99 in the Google Play Store and Secure Settings is free with in-app purchases to unlock extra functions.
Secure Settings – Google Play StoreTasker – Google Play Store

Ambient Display on your Android phone or tablet

Before we jump in, I just wanted to say again, Ambient Display is made for AMOLED displays because the display tech only turns on the pixels required to display the minimal message, using very little battery to do so. Our project today will need to completely turn on your display, this will eat a great deal of your battery throughout the day, especially if you configure exactly as I will be.

Related reading: Real time battery drain warnings

If battery life is not of concern, good, let’s get started.

Open up Tasker and start a new Task, let’s call it “AmbientNotification

Tap the “+” button to add your first action.

Tasker Ambient Display Notification

Select Plugin.

Select Secure Settings.

Tap the pencil Configuration button.

Expand Actions.

Select Wake Device.

Change the Duration to an amount of time that makes sense for you. Remember your battery life.

Tasker Ambient Display Notification

Click Save at the top.

Tap the system Back button a couple times, we’re done with the Task, let’s now create the associated Profile.

Head over to the Profiles tab and start a new Profile.

Tasker Ambient Display Notification

Select Event.

Select UI.

Select Notification.

Tap on the spaceship icon to the right of Owner Application.

Tap the All button in the bottom right, or choose your desired apps to have turn on the display.

Tap the system Back button twice again to save and exit to the next step.

Select your Ambient Notification Task from the list.


Tasker Ambient Display Notification

Wait, the whole point of Ambient Display is to show you your latest incoming notification, good thing we already handled this in a previous project:

Create your own popup notifications using Tasker

Finally, you’ll need to turn off your display for this to work, obviously. But before it does, please consider the extra security settings that you’ll need to grant to Tasker and Secure Settings.

Tasker Android Wear

I might have told you this in the first place, sorry, head into your main system settings, go to Security -> Device administrators and grant Tasker and Secure Settings admin access. When that’s done, head over to the Sound & notification settings to grant Notification access for Tasker. If you follow along after the break, you’ll want to also go into App notifications and make Tasker a Priority.

Tasker Android Wear

What’s next

Just for the fun of it I decided to pop up a Tasker notification along with this ambient display project. it serves no point except proof of concept. You could, however, work with our Android Wear project from last week. You can handle yours so that it provides an actionable card on your smartwatch. Like, maybe a button to dismiss this ambient display so it does not eat so much battery.

Tasker Popup notification Project

Now that, hopefully, your creative juices are flowing, remember that we took the fairly obvious notifications as our trigger to turn on the display. You could dive deep and consider many other things to pop on the display, remember that you can use Tasker and Secure Settings to bypass the lock, then display a Tasker Scene to show off any info you’d like.

Here’s a cool project I just thought up, but won’t be building for myself, pair your phone and your tablet (or WiFi camera and tablet) so that with each shot you take the photo pops up for a few seconds on the tablet. This will rely on network traffic and probably a combination of services like Dropbox and IFTTT, but I believe in you.

Next week

I hope this little Ambient Display trick on your Android device was useful for you, next week on our Android customization series will be something fairly similar. Perhaps a different project, but we’ll continue with these tools next week, we are, after all, huge fans of Tasker.

Have you noticed any significant battery drain changes after created your own Ambient Display project on your non-AMOLED Android device?

More Android customization projects:

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Discrete cuckoo clock using Tasker – Android customization

Tasker Cuckoo Clock

We actually had some fun last week going over some of our best Android customization posts from the year, it reminded us some of the fun we’ve had. It’s almost the new year now, and forgive me for stretching here, but I am inspired to think of time. Before we really dive into root stuff, let’s do one more lazy Tasker project, a clock.

The idea is simple, we’re building a type of cuckoo clock, but silent. Every hour, on the hour, we’ll make your phone vibrate one tick for each hour of the current time. Simple enough, at 4pm, your device will vibrate four quick spurts (or 16 if you use the 24 hour clock like I do) and there is no need to pull your phone out to check the time.

Hey, it’s the end of the year, let’s have some fun. Truth is, I was planning to give you a big project here today, we were going to use Tasker to act as a musical instrument, to play Auld Lang Syne. Feel free to check out MIDI and all the magic and horror it can bring, or hold on, perhaps I’ll get this thing working at a later date.

Before we begin

Tasker – Google Play StoreYou’ve seen these words before, you’ll need a modern Android device, one with a vibration motor, and Tasker installed. Tasker is $ 2.99 in the Google Play Store.

Silent cuckoo clock

There are a few steps in this tutorial, but we’re going to work with a simple For Loop instead of properly creating an array variable. No time for that level of crazy brain usage this holiday season, let’s just make some noise.

No delay’s, let’s just get into this. Also, I’ll leave it to you to go back and check out previous tutorials to learn how exactly to do some of these things. I’ll leave links for you along the way.

Fire up Tasker, head into the Tasks tab and fire up a new Task, I’ll name mine “SilentClock”.

First up, a few variables.

How to: variables in Tasker
How to: variable Split in Tasker

Tasker cuckoo clock

Create a new Variable. Name: “%timetoalert“. To: “%TIME

That gives you the current time in format 4.48, (or 16.48,) for example. So we will now split the variable to get just the hour.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Variable Split. Name: “%timetoalert“. Splitter: “.” and feel free to Delete Base, we won’t need it.

Now we will use a For Loop to handle the next part. As mentioned earlier, the proper thing to do would be to build an array with the vibration times saved in ms. We’re keeping it simple, we’ll just loop as many times as the hour count, that’ll be four times, for our example.

How to: For Loop with Tasker

Tasker cuckoo clock

Add a new For Loop, Tasks -> For. Then Variable: “%arrtime“. Items: “1:%timetoalert1“.

I bet that made no sense at all. I explain the variable part in the tutorial linked above, but where did that “1:%timetoalert1” come from? It’s easy, actually, we need to run the loop at least once, and repeat it for as many times as the hour in the day. If you recall how Variable Split works, we stripped out the 4 in our example 4.48 using the “.” as a splitter, now %timetoalert1 has the value of 4, and if you wanted it, %timetoalert2 has value 48. In this example, we told the the loop to run from 1:4. 4 o-clock, bingo.

Now vibrate, I don’t recall if we have done this one before.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Tap the “+” button, select Alert, select Vibrate.

Set the Time to something short, like 200.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Now manually wait for a second. “+” -> Task -> Wait -> 1 second.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Now finish up the loop properly with an End For, easy, “+” -> Task -> End For.

That’s the core of the Task, now just need a little Profile to make it happen.

Head over to the Profile tab and create a new Profile.

Tasker cuckoo clock

Select Time.

I recommend only having this Profile active during your waking hours, no point ruining your sleep. Set From to the nearest even hour your after you normally wake up, let’s say 8am (08:00).

Set To to your usual bed time plus a couple minutes, say 10:02pm (22:02).

Finally, set Repeat to every 1 hour.

That’s it. Starting at the next active hour your device will vibrate as many times as the hour of the day. Feel free to increase the vibration time if the 200ms is too quick, just be sure that your vibration time is less than your Wait time.

What’s next

Tasker cuckoo clock

I added a little ‘heads-up’ for this project, just a 1000ms vibration followed by a 3 second delay before my Loop begins. I found I was missing the first few ticks, so this warning gets my attention, then I can count the ticks.

I talked earlier about using an array and the Vibrate Pattern action to do this properly. Truth told, I have no plan on handling this any time soon, you’re on your own, folks. No worries, array variables are a common enough topic around the Tasker water coolers, Google it up and you’ll find what you need.

If you find that your notification isn’t working exactly as you’d expect, let’s say, for example, that your vibrations do not go off in succession like they should, we may change Profile priority. Long press the Profile then tap the menu icon in the top right of the screen. Under Launched Task Priority, bump it up a bit, I’ve moved mine to 30, which should get the job done. It is not advised to go too high here, but keep bumping it up until you get teh desired results.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0001

Final thoughts, the concept of this project is once again to get you thinking and experiencing Tasker, we have certainly not built a bullet proof silent clock here. Of primary concern, the new Doze functionality of Android 6.x Marshmallow will, by default, put Tasker to sleep. You’ll need to open up Doze to allow Tasker through (perhaps we’ll look at that another day) or accept that your silent cuckoo clock is just not going to work when your device has been immobile for a while. Sorry.

Next week

I admit this project was a little over-simplified, not that that makes it a bad project, there were things to learn in this project, like that silly For Loop variable requirement, hope it works out for you. Next week is going to be tough for me folks, we’ll be on the floor at CES and I may not get to post anything for you, I feel bad about that, but I promise to learn a trick or two at the show that I can share later. Once we’re back to normal, next up on our Android customization series we’ll be continuing with root fun, we’ve got that Nexus 7 all ready to rock.

Happy New Year!

Looking for more Android customization projects? Check these ones out:
Best Android customization projects of 2015
Zooper Widget A-Z
Tasker device intrusion detection
One-click time lapse video

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Tasker location and network tracking, time card part 2 – Android customization

Tasker time Location maps and planes

Last week we took to Tasker to build the first parts of an automated time card in our Android customization series. We will continue the project this week, building on last week by adding location aware autonomy to the project.

As a quick recap, last week we built Tasker Tasks that write our log in and log out times to a file, popped up on screen our total time spent for the day and teased further ideas for what to do with, and how to track, our accumulated data.

This week we take to Tasker again, we will build two triggers, the first will be a location aware trigger, and the second will look at attaching to a specific WiFi network.

Before we begin

It will be easiest to follow along today if you have already gone through the steps in part 1 of this project. That said, the concepts we are about to learn can be used for any other purpose that you would like. I’ll have some examples of alternatives as we go.

Tasker – Google Play StoreYou will need Tasker installed on your Android device to proceed. Eventually you folks are going to ask me to stop including this message, but for now, Tasker is $ 2.99 in the Google Play Store.

Tracking your time with Tasker, part 2

As mentioned, we are continuing our project from last week, building the automation aspects of our time card project. Many of you expressed that tracking your time was just depressing, I can respect that, so I want you to understand that what we are about to learn today goes well beyond the time card project. Automatic actions based on your physical location and/or the WiFi networks you are connected to can be used for any number of projects.

Tasker Time card

Enough of the explanations, let’s get started.

Location aware trigger

Google has made it possible within Android to utilize your device location data. The idea is to allow an app to take specific actions automatically based on where you are. Tasker is able to utilize this feature.

Here’s what we are going to do: we will allow Tasker to tap into our device location, then, when we enter a specified location, we fire our work started Task. As you might guess, we have our work stopped Task fire when we then leave that designated location.

Fire up Tasker and familiarize yourself with your time card project. You’ll just need to know which Tasks you are going to want to fire on entrance and exit of your work/school/other location.

Start a new Profile. If asked, name it appropriately, I’ll call mine “WorkGPSCoord”.

Tasker time card Location profile

Select Location.

You are greeted with a warning about how GPS driven location tracking can be a serious battery drain. We hear you, Tasker, we’ll use an alternative solution later in this tutorial.

Locate your desired location on the map, be sure to zoom in as far as you can to be as accurate as possible. Note that you can choose to use Net and/or GPS location tracking and can narrow your effective radius between 30m and, crazily enough, 999km. I suspect 30m, 50m or even 100m radius will be sufficient for your needs.

Once dialed in, simply hit the system Back button to save and exit the map selection.

Now you are asked to provide a name for this map location, you call yours what you need, I’ll just call mine “Work“.

Tasker time card Location profile 2

Finally, choose your time card log in Task from the list, you’ll recall that mine was called “TimeCardLogIn.”

Now that you have your log in firing when you arrive into your desired location, we need to add an exit Task to automatically write your log off data when you leave the area.

Long press on the name of your log in Task in the Profile.

Choose Add Exit Task.

Select your work log off Task, mine was called “TimeCardlogOut.”

That is how easy it is, folks. I urge you to think outside the box on this one, I am sure you can think of many more projects that could utilize your physical location to automatically perform an action. If you need an idea, why not install the Secure Settings plugin so that you can turn off device lock when you are at home, and have it lock when you are away from home.

WiFi network connection trigger

The title may have been a tad confusing there, sorry, what we are looking at doing is simple, when your device connects to a specific WiFi network, automatically run our time card log in Task. And when we then disconnect from that WiFi network, log out. Sounds easy.

Fire up a new Profile in Tasker. If required, give it an appropriate name, I’ll call mine “WorkWiFiLogIn”.

Tasker time card WiFi SSID profile

Choose State.

Choose Net.

Choose WiFi Connected.

Under SSID, enter the exact name of your work/school/other WiFi network. This is easiest done when you are at the location, as you can then hit that magnifying glass icon to see and select the SSID of any WiFi connections in the area.

You can see also that you have the option to choose a WiFi router MAC address or IP address. Depending on the complexity of your WiFi network, you may need to dial this in as specific as possible, but I suspect you’ll be good enough using just the SSID for now.

Hit the system Back button to save the WiFi settings.

Tasker time card WiFi SSID profile 2

Select your time card log in Task.

As before, now long press on the log in task.

Choose Add Exit Task.

Choose your time card log out Task.


Tasker time card WiFi SSID profile final

While this puts an end to the time card project, I hope that you see how much you could do with the WiFi and SSID controls. One of the more common uses is to adjust volumes based on network, i.e. muting ringer at work, turning up media volume when you are home and more.

Others will actually turn off things like Bluetooth, Cell connection, change security settings, wallpaper and much more when they connect to specific networks.

What’s next

Tasker time Location map Google

Utilizing location services for Tasker really can be a battery drain, be sure to spend some time tweaking the project for optimal efficiency. From there, consider other conditions to limit when the Profile is active.

If you are dedicated to using your GPS for this or any other Tasker project, consider building another Tasker project altogether that turns on and off your GPS antenna, or even turn on and off the location based Tasker Profile when appropriate. If your normal routine allows you to, simply turn off GPS while you sleep and while you are not likely to be in motion. If you have a dock or NFC in your car, you could use that to turn on and off GPS as well.

Tasker time Location map planes

I know most of you dislike the idea of a work time card – thinking outside the box, I’ve used this basic project to track my time at the gym, driving time, sleep time (including naps) and more. I’ll admit that I like analytics, keeping track of my time and the things in it.

I’ll also admit that this project was built more for the fun of it than anything. It is a great project to learn a few concepts to take to other projects, but for those of you that aren’t fans of the trouble shooting required, yes, there are dedicated apps for almost every Tasker project I build.

Next week

I hope this time card project was a helpful addition to our Android customization series for you. We will continue with Tasker next week, heading back into variables – we’ve previously explored some variable management, this time we’ll look at some variable manipulation.

As far as having your device automatically perform actions when you enter or exit specific physical locations, what are your favorite actions to take?

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Nova Launcher 4.1.0-beta2 arrives with new customization features

Nova Launcher logo 840px

A new beta version of Nova Launcher has arrived, bringing with it a selection of tweaks to help further customize your home screen just to your liking. The latest update includes a new search bar skin and automatic icon size normalizing.

Nova Launcher search barsIf you don’t like the new colorful search bar implemented by Google recently, you can now swap it out for a greyscale variant inspired by Android Marshmallow. Nova Launcher includes a selection of persistent search bar options, ranging from classic to modern designs. You can find them located under Desktop > Persistent Search Bar in the app’s options menu.

Nova users who love to mix and match their icons will probably also get some use out of the new “Normalize Icon Size” option, which is located under Look and Feel. This shrinks down any overly large icons to make them fit with the Material Design guidelines, which should help tie your theme together.

The latest beta version also includes a couple of under the hood tweaks. Runtime permission have been implemented for Android Marshmallow and there are a selection of optimizations and bug fixes for everyone.

If you aren’t already participating in the Nova Launcher beta program, head on over to this link to join up. You can download the app for free from Google Play.

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Backup your SMS, MMS and call log automatically – Android customization

SMS Backup plus Play Store

Judging by your overwhelming response to last week’s Android customization post, many of you have strong feelings either for or against Google Now. Either way, I hope that you found value in the ability to swap out the functionality of the swipe up gesture to a task better suited to your needs.

This week, we want to make sure that everyone is looking after their data, specifically we want to make sure you are backing up your SMS. I know at least our Canadian readers prefer the term ‘text messages’ here, which is possibly more accurate, but I’m going to stick with SMS, sorry guys.

Join us as we explore an app called SMS Backup+, and another app you’ve already heard of, Tasker.

Before we begin

Get SMS Backup+Many SMS and messaging apps and services have the ability built right in to backup or otherwise prevent loss of your messages should you lose your phone, but that is not always the case. When in doubt, or if you are using a messaging tool that does not have backup capabilities, we will point you towards SMS Backup+, a free app in the Google Play Store, that syncs your messages to your Gmail account for safe storage.

Get TaskerAs a completely optional addition to the project today, we will use Tasker to fine tune the controls a little. If you do not yet have Tasker installed, prepare to drop $ 2.99 in the Google Play Store to follow along.

Tasker in the Google Play Store

Use SMS Backup+ to keep your messages safe

There is a good chance you’ve got a SMS message or two on your Android device, and there is a good chance one or more of those you’d rather not lose if you happen to misplace your phone. If for no other reason, perhaps you should look at backing up your SMS messages on a regular basis.

Straight out of the box, SMS Backup+ is super easy to use and looks to backup not just your SMS, but also your MMS and call log. The idea is to dump these items into your Gmail account with a custom Gmail Label to keep them under control.

Now, if you are a Google Voice and/or Google Hangouts user, have a look for the ‘SMS’ Label in your Gmail. If you see the Label, and it is packed full of your messages, today’s tasks are not really for you, your messages are secure and you may go on with getting ready for your weekend.

The general setup of SMS Backup+ is pretty near all of the input this app requires to keep your messages rolling to Gmail. Install the app, fire it up and let’s walk through it from there.

SMS Backup plus setup1

First, you will need to connect to your preferred Gmail account. Not to worry, this app uses OAuth, like all good apps should, so you can block access at any time from within your Google account settings on the web.

Tap the Connect check box.

Choose your Google account.

Decide whether or not to begin a full backup of all existing messages on your device, or to skip and only backup messages received from this point forward.

If all you desire to do is backup everything to a Label called SMS in your Gmail, turn on the Auto backup checkbox and enjoy your day. However, if you’d like to tune things a little, please continue along.

SMS Backup plus setup advanced

Next up, head into Advanced Settings.

Tap on Backup settings.

Choose which types of messages you would like to backup to Gmail. I usually do not backup MMS myself, but that’s just a personal preference.

Click on SMS near the bottom of the list to change the name of the Label that will be created in Gmail. You don’t have to do this, but remember that your Google Hangouts and Voice also backup to the SMS Label. I called mine “SMS+“, nice and simple.

Tap the system Back button to save and exit back to the SMS Backup+ home screen.

SMS Backup plus setup frequency

Tap into Auto backup settings.

Tap on Regular schedule to set the frequency with which SMS Backup+ backs up your messages. It is set to 2 hours by default. I like to save juice and risk the loss, I choose 24 hours.

Tap on incoming schedule to set a time in which SMS Backup+ is triggered to run after a new message arrives. It defaults to 3 minutes, which is where I leave it, but you might want to bump that to 30 minutes or more if you regularly have extended SMS conversations.

Tap the system Back button to get back to the main screen again.

Now, tap that Auto backup check box to make sure the backups are turned on and you may call it a day.

If ever the scheduled backup frequency is not to your liking, or you do not want auto backups at all, there is a big Backup button at the top of the screen just waiting to be pushed.

If you do like the auto backup, but the Regular schedule times do not work for you, it is time to use our favorite customization app, Tasker.

Backup SMS using Tasker

To use Tasker to trigger SMS backup, we will use SMS Backup+ as a Third Party extension to Tasker.

First, head into SMS Backup+ to enable the integration.

SMS Backup plus enable 3rd party

Tap into Auto backup settings.

Turn on 3rd party integration.

Exit SMS Backup+ and head into Tasker.

Create a new Tasker Task and name it appropriately. I’ve named mine “Smsbackup“.

Tap the “+” button to add an action.

Tasker Task SMS Backup plus

Choose 3rd Party.

Choose SMS backup+.

That is really all there is to the Task, hit the system Back button to save and exit the Task creation.

Now, you need to decide how and when Tasker should run the backup. For our purposes, let’s setup a Profile that runs the backup every Sunday.

Head to the Profiles tab of Tasker, create a new Profile and name it appropriately. I’ve called mine “Sundaysmsbackup“.

Tasker Profile SMS Backup plus

Choose Day.

Tap the Month Day drop down and change it to Week Day.

Choose Sunday.

Tap the system Back button to save.

Choose your backup Task, I had called mine “Smsbackup.”

That’s it, you are done.

Tasker Profile Sunday SMS Backup plus

What’s next

While I am sure you have far different ideas than mine when it comes to backup frequency, I hope that you see all of the available ways and times that you can use SMS Backup+ to fire your data over to Gmail.

We used a Day value in our Tasker project, be sure to think outside the box for your needs. Perhaps backup your SMS when you connect to your home WiFi router. Maybe put a 10 minute delay after receiving a message – that’s too easy, I know, create a few Tasker Profiles and Tasks that add 1 to a variable every time you receive a message, then fire the backup when you get to 10 messages. Don’t forget to then reset the variable back to 0.

Zooper Widget Gmail SMS Count

Finally, SMS Backup+ sends your messages to Gmail, what are you to do if you do not want to use Gmail? You know it, there are well over a million apps in the Google Play Store, I am sure a few of them can help. Might I suggest SMS Backup & Restore, also free in the Google Play Store, which saves your messages as a text file (XML, to be more accurate,) on your device. Make sure to pull the files from the device for secure backup.

Next week

I hope that SMS Backup+ and Tasker helped you to save your data from a loss, or at least we hope today’s Android customization allowed you to use your data in a different way. Next week we would like to take a look at a new feature available in Chrome for devices running Android 5+ Lollipop, specifically, how to control the new tab management.

Do you care to keep record of your SMS, MMS and call log history, what tools do you use to manage things?

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Future Samsung devices rumored to support theme customization

samsung galaxy note 4 vs galaxy s5 quick look aa (3 of 7)

Those who bemoan the look of Samsung’s customized Touchwiz interface may have been pleased to hear that the Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 were Samsung’s first Android phones to feature theme support, as well as new metallic bodies. There’s even better news for those into cosmetic customization, as sources are suggesting that Samsung is planning to make themes support a priority for all of its future devices.

The stock themes will apparently be similar to those included with the current Galaxy A series, but may also extend to include the changing of system fonts, sounds, and something else called Events. Events seem to allow for sysSamsung Theme Store logotem customization based on specific dates, such as birthdays or national holidays.

To facilitate easy switching of themes, the source suggests that Samsung is also planning to launch a theme store (see logo on the right). What isn’t clear at the moment is whether Samsung will also support third party themes or if customization choices will be locked to a small selection modelled on Samsung’s own tastes.

The anticipated Galaxy S6 could be the first flagship to show off Samsung’s new theme features. Would you like to see Samsung adopt a deeper level of theme support in the future, or could the company better spend its software resources on something else?

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Android customization – how to regain storage space by cleaning the cache on your Android device

Android internal Storage clear cache

Last week on our Android customization post, you got to play with image files and change up your wallpaper on your Android device. After messing with all those image files, you may be finding that your internal storage space is strangely low, so we should try to fix that.

There are many things you can do to clear up the internal storage of your Android device. Uninstalling apps, deleting files, moving apps and files to your microSD card, if you’ve got one, are all great places to start, and when things get really bad, you can always perform a full system reset.

Before you go so far as to wiping your entire device, there is something else you might try, clearing your system cache.

Before we get started

We do not require anything special today, clearing system cache can be done right from your Android operating system. As always, you’ll find that we are working on a vanilla Android device, your device may have slightly different steps, but it should offer the same functionality.

Why should you clear your system cache

Let us start with a basic understanding of what your system cache is exactly, and why you might not want to clear it. Cache files on an Android device are a collection of all of the images, videos, text files and more that are required to display things like web pages, advertisements and more.

You may have noticed that the very first time you load certain apps or web pages it takes much longer to do so than the next times you load them. This is where cache comes into play. That first time around, the images and other elements have to be downloaded from the internet, or extracted from compressed app files or even have to be manually generated on the fly, as with photo thumbnails. These files are then saved into your system cache, so the next time around your app or webpage can pull the file from a local store, which makes it load much faster.

For the apps and web pages that you frequent, cache is a wonderful tool. But what about all those images for those web pages that you will never visit again, social media posts that you’ve already read or files for apps that you’ve uninstalled? They take up valuable space on your device, and it’s probably a good idea to make them go away.

How to clear your system cache

Android clear system cache

Don’t fret, clearing system cache is easy. We’ll start out by heading into your main system Settings.

Choose Storage.

Choose Cached data.

In the popup confirmation box, choose OK.

That is all there is to it.

As you might imagine, this cleared all cache on your device, so the next time you start up your apps and websites they may take an extra little bit to reload the elements into cache again. This is OK, just remember to come back here again as frequently as needed to clear things up again.

Selectively clear cache per app

If clearing cache for everything on your device is too invasive for your needs, Android offers a method to clear cache on an app-by-app basis.

Android clear app cache

In your main system Settings, tap on Apps.

Tap on each app that you wish to clear cache.

Tap on the Clear Cache button.

It can be very time consuming to go through your entire list of apps, clearing cache for each as you go, but if it is worth the hassle for you, it is great that the option exists.

What’s next

You’ll find that many apps can handle their own cache settings. Myself, I have both Dolphin browser and ES File Explorer automatically clear their own cache each time I exit the app. If you’ve been following me for long, I am sure you can imagine that my image thumbnail cache for my screenshots folder gets pretty big in no time, having ES clear that cache automatically is a life saver.

However, there are certain system app cache that do not get cleared with the above steps. The absolute worst offender in my experience, your camera/photos cache.

To clear your camera/photos cache, which I try to do after every couple hundred pictures taken, or photos viewed in the Photos/Gallery app, you’ll need a file explorer installed that is capable of viewing hidden files. Of course, I turn to ES File Explorer, but you should be fine with your app of choice.

Android photo thumbnail cache

Head into your files, look for DCIM, then .thumbnails. I usually just go ahead and delete all of the files in here, but you may wish to transfer them to SD card or other as a backup, just in case. Either way, you can see that my Christmas day photos on the phone ran up a thumbnail cache almost 600MB. Since I have removed the photos from the phone for sharing and further processing, I don’t need these cache files at all. Delete!

Next week

With all this extra space now available on your Android device, we will use next week’s Android customization post to load you back up again. How would you feel about a little home-grown device security? I’d like to show you how to use Tasker to discreetly take and store a photo from the front camera of your device every time an intruder turns on your display.

Are there any other hidden cache or thumbnail stores on your device that you regularly delete?

Happy New Year!

Android Authority

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