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20 quick ways to dial up your smartphone game

While we might pull out and check our smartphones dozens (or hundreds) of times a day, we’re more likely to be checking social media feeds than tweaking settings that might improve our experience.

Take the time to make your life better and easier with these handy hints for Android and iOS. Each will only take about a minute, and you can do them while waiting for your train, during some downtime at lunch, or whenever you’ve got a spare moment. By the time you’ve worked through them all, you’ll find your phone more personalized, more efficient, and more fun to use.

If you’re using Google Photos (on Android or iOS) or iCloud Photos (on iOS) to back up your pictures and videos to the cloud, you can clear the local copies off your phone and free up some serious storage space. In Google Photos, tap your profile picture (top right), then choose Free up space.

Android and iOS manage home screen icons quite differently: iOS sticks to regimented rows and columns, while Android gives you much more freedom. However, you can tidy up your sprawl of icons on both operating systems by dragging them into folders.

Just press and hold on an icon, then drag it on top of another to create a folder. (On iOS, a menu will appear and you’ll have to select Edit Home Screen before you can move anything, though you can also press and hold on an empty area of the screen to unlock the ability to move things around.) Tap to open the folder and you can rename it whatever you like—maybe Social, Productivity, or Games. Your home screens should now be easier to navigate.

Widgets give you helpful at-a-glance information and instant access to various apps—you can get the weather forecast, traffic conditions, or the search bar for a specific app, for example. On Android, you can tap and hold on a blank part of the home screen, then choose Widgets to see the widgets available from your apps.

It’s slightly different in iOS, where you can add widgets to your home screen or the Today View (one swipe right from the home screen). From the home screen, press and hold on a blank area, then tap the plus icon in the top left corner to choose widgets. From the Today View, scroll to the bottom of the list and tap Edit to select the shortcuts and panels you’ll have access to.

These shortcuts can be really handy, but you don’t have to settle for the default selection and layout. On Android, open the Quick Settings drawer with a three-finger drag down from the top of the screen, then tap the pencil icon (bottom left) to start customizing. On iOS, open Settings, then go to Control Center to make edits—tap the plus and minus icons to add or remove controls and drag the three lines to the right of each feature to rearrange them.

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