The Guide to Android for Beginners

Welcome Android newcomers! After reading this guide, you will transform from a complete novice to an old pro! Well, not really… But it will give you a huge step in that direction. This guide is meant for absolute beginners but will definitely offer some great insight to those who have been playing around with Android devices for a bit. Enjoy! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment or email.


Android Smartphone

Home, Back, Menu & Search – These are the 4 buttons on almost every Android device. The home button sends you to your home screen when pressed. The back button will back out of apps, menus, or web pages. The menu button usually brings up settings menus and the search button searches. There are some cool tricks with these buttons, but they will be covered in different articles. Home Screen – This is the screen you see when you power your device or touch the home button. It is where you place apps and widgets and is basically the central hub for operating your device.

Long Press – Long pressing is the act of pressing and holding an area of your screen for longer than 2 seconds. It allows you to move apps on the home screen and see additional menus on the home screen or inside other apps. Think of it as a “right-click” on your Android device.

App Drawer – The app drawer is the location for all of your apps. It is accessible from the home screen and is usually located in the bottom row of icons.

Notification Bar – The notification bar is the bar at the top of the screen that lists notifications. It also displays other information such as the time, cell and data reception, etc.

Settings – For this article, settings refer to your device settings accessible by pressing the menu button while on your home screen or using the “Settings” system app located in your app drawer.


Drag and Drop – This is the process of pressing and holding an app icon or widget, then moving the object and placing it where you want it to be.

Market – The market is where you download apps, games, and media for your device. You access the market via a system app located in your app drawer.

Android OS – The Android OS is the operating system loaded on your device that controls every operation. It is software, not hardware or a particular device. Most people refer to it as just “Android,” i.e., “What version of Android are you running?”

Widget – A widget is a “mini” app that you place on your home screen. They usually have fewer functions than the full app but have immediate operation. They are handy for commonly used tasks. However, they use a lot of system resources and can slow down your device.

Launcher – The launcher is the part of your OS that you interact with. Think of it as the tip of the Android iceberg. It controls your home screen, app drawer and launches apps. The stock launcher does an incredible job. However, it lacks some customizable options. There are launcher replacement apps available on the market if you wish to customize your device further.


Navigating Through Your Device – The best way to learn how to navigate through your device is to explore independently. Get acclimated with the notification bar by touching the top of your screen and swiping your finger down. Enter and exit your app drawer – try out the preloaded apps and see if you like anything. You don’t have to worry about deleting anything important, as Google made it impossible to delete system apps and files. Check out your device’s settings by pressing the menu button while on your home screen. I would not recommend changing any settings unless you are certain you know what you are changing.

Arranging Your Home Screen – With Android, you can customize almost every aspect of your device, and the home screen is the best place to start. Android allows between 1 and 7 home screens depending on what device or launcher you are using. This allows you to organize your heavily used apps by placing like apps on the same screen. To place an app, open your app drawer, press and hold the app you wish to place, and drop it where you want it on your home screen. You can then move apps in the same manner, press and hold the icon – drop it where you want it.

The next way to customize your home screen is to add widgets. To add a widget, long press an open area of your home screen. A new menu will pop up. Select “Widgets” and scroll through the list, then select whatever widget you wish to place. A new menu will pop up asking you what size you want your widget to be; once you select the size, you’re done! You can move your widgets just like app icons by pressing and holding them.

As you probably saw when adding your widget, you can also add shortcuts, folders and change your wallpaper by long-pressing an open area on your home screen. Folders are great to keep your home screen organized and uncluttered. To add apps or shortcuts to a folder, drag and drop them into the folder. You can add shortcuts like a direct dial and direct messaging for people you contact frequently. Changing your wallpaper is another excellent way to customize your device.

Deleting App Icons and Widgets – Now that you’ve become a pro at adding stuff to your home screen, you may feel the need to remove some things. Deleting app icons and widgets from your home screen is simple. Just press and hold whatever you wish to remove. When you do so, a small trash can icon will appear. Drag and drop the item, and it will be removed from your home screen. Be careful, though; if you hold the item over the trash can for longer than 2 seconds, it will be uninstalled.

Downloading Apps – There are more than 200,000 apps on the Android market (as of the writing of this article). Getting new apps is incredibly simple on Android. Enter the system app labeled “Market” in your app drawer. Once you do, a plethora of apps, wargames, and media will be at your fingertips. Download until your heart’s content, but be wary. Although it is scarce, there have been instances of malware getting uploaded to the market. Read through permissions before downloading an app. Make sure that an app isn’t requesting permission that it shouldn’t be (like if a calculator app wants access to your contact information).

Uninstalling Apps – If you have too many apps and want to get rid of some, you have seven ways to do it. The first way is to long-press the app icon, then drag and hold the icon over the trash can on your home screen, wait 2 seconds and drop the app in the trash – it will now be uninstalled. The next way to uninstall an app is to go to; Device Dettings> Applications> Manage Applications > scroll through your list of apps, and select what you wish to uninstall. Follow the prompts to uninstall the app. Yet another way to uninstall is to do it through the market. While the market app is open, hit your menu button. Select “My apps” and scroll through your apps to find the one you wish to uninstall. Select the app and follow the prompts on the screen to remove it.

Now you know many common android terms, customize your device and install/uninstall apps. You are well on your way to becoming an android pro! Remember to keep exploring your device; you never know what cool new thing you’ll find. Thanks for reading this guide. I hope it helped. Be sure to tell your friends!


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.