Misc Android notes

Miscellaneous Android notes.

These Android notes are mostly for Android 4.1.2 on the Samsung Galaxy S2 GT-I9100. Some notes, where stated, are for a Nexus 10 on Android 5.1.1.

Because I use Android on the Galaxy S2, the OS contains Samsung-specific customisations. Also, it’s inextricably linked to Google services. As such some of these notes relate to the Galaxy S2 and Google.


My Files -> All Files (/storage) -> sdcard0 is not your external SD card (the one plugged in to the back of the phone), it’s an internal SD card soldered to the motherboard. Your external SD card will show as extSdCard.

Set voicemail number

You can set your voicemail / answerphone number at Menu -> Call settings -> Voicemail settings -> Voicemail number.

Settings this directly on the SIM card doesn’t seem to work.


The Internet browser that comes with the Galaxy S2 will download APK files automatically, without asking for permission.

Auto-downloaded APK files

I found that th files will be downloaded into /storage/sdcard0/Download (My Files -> All Files -> Download).

The browser showed it in its list of downloads (Internet -> menu button -> Downloads). Removing it from this list only removes mention of the download, it doesn’t remove the downloaded file itself.

It was listed in My Files -> All Files -> Download (/storage/sdcard0/Download). Deleting it from here removed it from the device (at least I sincerely hope it did!).

More on this below in the bugs section.

Privacy concerns

The browser’s “incognito” mode won’t clear downloads, bookmarks or saved pages when closed.


Hold down power/lock key for a couple of seconds. Choose mute.

Be warned, this won’t actually mute your phone, though it will mute most things e.g. incoming calls. However some apps may still have sound! More on this below in the bugs section.

Power off

Hold down power/lock key for a couple of seconds. Choose power off.

Factory reset

  • Power off your phone.
  • Hold down volume, power/lock and menu keys at the same time.
  • You’ll boot into a recovery menu.
  • Choose factory reset and confirm.

How to get back apps after factory reset

To get back your apps after a factory reset, visit the Google Play store -> Menu (button) -> My apps. Then install whichever ones you want back on your phone.

Reference: after factory reset, how to get paid apps back?

Determine Android version

Settings (cog icon or menu -> Settings) -> About device.

Chrome, Google search and YouTube

I found that my Google’s Chrome browser on my Nexus 10 (running Android 5.1.1) was always opening YouTube links from Google search in the YouTube app, which I don’t want because I like to have videos open in multiple tabs in the browser.

I initially assumed that I had set YouTube app as the default for YouTube links, but after resetting defaults for Chrome, YouTube and every other app just in case, clearing cache, restarting the tablet, etc etc, I found that I just couldn’t get the ‘Complete action using’ dialog back.

So Google search on Chrome always opens YouTube links in YouTube app. This wasn’t previously the case, so something must have changed in an update. I suspect Google forcing their apps on people.

The fix

I have not found a good fix :-( I used Default App Manager Lite to check my default and YouTube wasn’t listed as default for anything, not Video nor Video Streaming.

You can do one of the following things as a work around:

  • Stop using Google search. For example if you click a YouTube link in Bing then you’ll be asked which app you’d like to use.
  • If using Google search, open the link in a new tab or click the ‘Open on youtube.com’ link instead of the title link.

Prevent Voice Talk launching on Home button double-click

To prevent the Samsung/Vlingo Voice Talk application launching when you double-click the Home button, launch Voice Talk then go to Settings and untick ‘Launch Voice talk’. If it’s not already ticked then tick it and untick it.

This should make your Home button respond much faster.


Google Calendar

Event privacy

New Google calendar events will be created with privacy set to Default, with no indication of what the default is.

According to this discussion How and/or where do I access default privacy settings for my calendar? the default is actually the calendar’s privacy setting. You can edit your google calendar online via Google Calendar -> Settings (cog icon) -> Settings -> Calendars -> Shared: Edit settings -> ‘Make this calendar public’, but I haven’t found a way to keep the calendar private but default events to “show time and date only”.


New event status

New Google calendar events created on the phone show as tentative on Thunderbird (via the Sunbird addon).

This is an Android bug. New calendar entries are always “tentative”

‘Add to My Contacts’ option when opening a Google contact

When you open a Google contact (those with a Google icon next to them) you may get a button at the bottom asking whether you want to ‘Add to My Contacts’. This will add the contact to the My Contacts group in Google Contacts

Sync with Google

It turns out that there isn’t a nice easy way to sync everything on an Android phone (as there is with iOS, which as I recall was pretty much just a matter of turning it on and plugging it into your iComputer). Disappointing. Anyway…

There are a myriad of ways to achieve sync, but I’ll be doing it over wireless straight to Google, rather than via my computer.

See what is being synced

  1. Settings -> Accounts section -> Google.
  2. Select your username at the top.
  3. You’ll see a list of the things being synced.

How to sync


Contact -> Menu button -> Import/Export -> Import from SIM card -> Save contact to Google.

You will now have duplicated contacts - some with a little SIM icon next to them, others with Google icon.

You can view your contacts online in gmail via its top-left menu, which reads ‘Gmail’ by default but can be changed to ‘Contacts’.

You may want to delete all SIM contacts after you’ve done this. Go to phone Contacts -> Menu button -> Contacts to display -> SIM. Then go to Menu button -> Delete, select all your (SIM) contacts and delete. Set Contacts to display back to show your gmail contacts.

Photos and other media or files

If you log in to Google+ it will ask you if you want to sync your photos. I think Picassa photos will sync your photos too.

To sync other files, you could use FolderSync, configuring it to sync any folder on the phone with one of the many cloud based storage services that it supports.


If sync fails, as indicated by the following message…

Sync is currently experiencing problems. It will be back shortly.

..then you can check to see which sync is failing:

  1. Settings -> Accounts section -> Google.
  2. Select your username at the top.
  3. You’ll see a list of the things being synced, along with an icon containing an exclamation mark next to those that have failed.

Internet sync fails

I read lots of advice about what to do if Internet sync fails, but for me it boiled down to deleting the Google account from my phone and adding it again.

  1. On the same page that shows failed syncs (see above), there should be a ‘Remove account’ button. Hit this to remove your account.
  2. Go back to Settings -> Accounts section.
  3. Use ‘Add account’ to add back your Google account.

Warning: I found that some things were lost after doing this, such as many contacts. Make sure you have a backup of everything important before removing your Google account and be prepared to spend a lot of time restoring anything that was lost.

Misc tips

  • Close the ‘Enter message’ / keyboard when composing a text message by clicking the Back button.

Change wifi channel to speed up wifi

Install Wifi Analyzer app to see which channel is best - start the app, press the eye symbol and select ‘Channel rating’.

You’ll have to change your wifi channel on your router.

Change which type of contacts to display

The Contacts app can show contacts that are on the SIM card, in your Google address book and in Google Plus. You don’t have to show all of these. Open Contacts, hit the settings button and select ‘Contacts to display’ to choose which sources you’d like to use.

Last modified: 12/10/2015 Tags: , , ,

This website is a personal resource. Nothing here is guaranteed correct or complete, so use at your own risk and try not to delete the Internet. -Stephan

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