For Adults

Customizing Your Phone and Tablet Display


03/24/2021 | tech & mobile skills

Have you ever wanted to adjust the appearance of your phone or tablet screen? There are many options for controlling the way your phone or tablet screen looks and how it behaves.

Why is this Skill Important?

Adjusting your device’s display options can make it easier for you to use. Learning more about what your options are can make using your device a better, less frustrating experience. You may need your device to be lit more brightly or for the words on the screen to appear larger in order to easily read them.

Customizing features like how quickly your device goes into sleep mode or whether the screen rotates as you turn it can help you use your device the way you want to use it. You may also want to personalize your device with options like choosing a wallpaper, which can help to make it more obvious that the device is yours if you have to identify it in a group, like at a gathering or in a lost and found box.

Here are just a few examples of how these kinds of options may help you:

  • If you have young children around, you may want your phone to go into sleep mode very quickly because that makes it more difficult for them to get into your phone.
  • If you are a side sleeper, you may want to prevent your tablet screen from automatically rotating so that you can read comfortably.
  • If you struggle to see your phone screen while outdoors in the sun, it may help to turn up the brightness level.
Setting Icon Examples

To get started locate the gear-shaped icon on your screen to access your Settings. Here are a few examples of what setting icons look like on various brands and types of devices. Then follow the directions and tips below that apply to your device.

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Android


To change what your screen looks like or how it behaves, you can start by opening your Settings section. Often Settings can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping an icon shaped like a gear. Usually, you can also find a Settings app with the other app icons on your screen. Different brands of Android devices are organized slightly differently from one another, but in general these kinds of options can be accessed from Settings, under the Display category. One great feature of Android is that once you open your Settings app you may be able to use a search bar to easily locate the exact setting you want to adjust.


Brightness
If it is difficult to see your phone screen, try adjusting the Brightness. This controls how brightly your phone screen is lit. Drag the slider to increase or decrease the light level. You may be able to adjust this slider from the pull-down menu, which is accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen.


Wallpaper
One way to personalize your device is to choose a Wallpaper. This is the image that makes up the background of your phone. You can choose from pre-installed images or pick any image you have saved to your phone, including pictures that you have taken. Open your Settings and look for Wallpapers.


Sleep or Screen Timeout
You can change how your phone responds when you stop interacting with it; the screen will fade to black after being left alone for the amount of time you set. These options may be called Sleep or Screen Timeout. Choosing a shorter time means that it will be more difficult for someone else to use your phone without your knowledge if you walk away from it. However, any passcodes or other security features you set up will have to be entered more frequently if you set this feature to a short amount of time.


Font and Display Size
You can make the letters and buttons on your screen larger by adjusting the Font Size and Display Size options. Open your Settings and look under Display for these options.


Screen Rotate or Auto-rotate
You can choose whether the screen rotates as you turn the device or not. This feature is usually called Screen Rotate or Auto-rotate. If you turn this feature off, the screen orientation will be locked and you can turn the device without the screen orientation changing as the device moves. Often, rotation is controlled by an on/off switch from the pull-down menu, which is accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen. Generally, you can also control Auto-rotate from your Settings; look under Display and tap the Advanced options if you don’t see it at first.

iPhone


To change what your screen looks like or how it behaves, open Settings, then open the Display & Brightness section.


Light or Dark Mode
In this area, you can choose Light or Dark mode. In Dark mode, the background of many menus and apps will be black with white text, rather than the default Light mode, which uses black text on white backgrounds.


Brightness
To control how brightly your phone screen is lit, adjust the brightness by dragging the slider to increase or decrease the light level.


Night Shift
Enabling Night Shift allows the colors of your display to shift to warmer tones in the evening. This feature helps eliminate your exposure to the blue light at night, which has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.


Auto-Lock Timer
Set the Auto-Lock timer to control how fast your phone locks and goes to sleep when you stop using it. The screen will fade to black after being left alone for the amount of time you set. Choosing a shorter time means that it will be more difficult for someone else to use your phone without your knowledge if you walk away from it. However, any passcodes or other security features you set up will have to be entered more frequently if you set the Auto-Lock to a short amount of time.


Text Size
Set the text size to your preferred reading size by using the slider. Many apps will be able to display text in your preferred size, though the feature is not available in absolutely every app.


Wallpaper
Open Settings, then select Wallpaper to choose the image that makes up the background of your phone. You can choose from pre-installed images or pick any image you have saved to your phone, including pictures that you have taken.


Portrait Orientation/Screen Rotate
The Portrait Orientation Lock controls whether or not the screen rotates as you turn it. This can be done from Control Center. The way to access Control Center to make this adjustment varies based on the kind of iPhone or iPad you have. Find instructions for iPhones here. Find instructions for iPads here.

Smart Phone Basics

Use the recommended titles here to explore the features of your smartphone. Whether you have an Android or an iPhone, these recent books can help you learn to make your device work best for you! Many of the skills and topics covered here would also apply to Android tablets and iPads. #indypladults

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Let this friendly guide show you the ins and outs of your Android device— master the basics and get the most from your Android phone or tablet!

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