10 Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts for Your Nexus 7 Tablet

New users of the Nexus 7 tablet, and even some experienced tablet-users, might be interested in a few suggestions for easier use of the tablet. Well, here they are.

Put widgets on the lock screen

Just as you can adorn the Home screen with widgets, you can also slap down a few right on the lock screen. In fact, the time display on the Nexus 7’s lock screen is really a widget. It’s only one of several.

To add a lock screen widget, touch the large plus button that appears on the lock screen. If you don’t see that button, swipe the screen left or right. Choose a widget to add from the list displayed, such as the Calendar, Gmail, Digital Clock, or other widgets.

  • Multiple widgets can be placed on the lock screen, though you can see only one at a time. Swipe the screen to see others.

  • To remove a lock screen widget, long-press it. Drag the widget up to the Remove icon, and it’s gone. You can even remove the Clock widget, in which case only the large plus button appears on the lock screen.

How to summon a recently opened app

You may be kicking yourself in the head every time you return to the All Apps screen to, once again, page through the panels o’ icons to dig up an app you just opened. Why bother? Instead, you can summon the list of recently opened apps by touching the Recent Apps navigation icon at the bottom of the Home screen.

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Using the Recent Apps icon is the best way you can switch between two running apps. When you need to switch, for example, between Email and Chrome, just touch the Recent Apps icon and choose the bottom item on the list. It’s effectively the same thing as the Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut in Windows.

How to use friendly friend buttons

You’ll find your friends handy, seeing them appear in many of the apps on your Nexus 7. When you see one — well, either your friend’s smiling face in a picture or the generic-person icon — you may notice the More button in the lower-right corner of your pal’s account image.

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Touching the button (shown in the margin) displays a pop-up window with some contract detail.

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In addition to the contact’s name, you see a row of quick-task icons just below the picture. Each of the icons represents an action you can take to deal with the contact. The number and variety of actions depend on the details provided for the contact in the People app.

Icons are shown (from left to right) for Email, Google+, Google Hangouts, Maps, and Chrome. Choose an address to start either the Gmail or Email app and then compose a message. Or touch the Map icon to choose a location, such as work or home, to go visit that person and ask for the money she owes you.

The more details you supply in the People app for your friends, the more you can do with those friends on your Nexus 7.

How to add a contact widget

The people you contact most often are deserving of their own contact shortcuts on the Home screen. You just don’t realize how useful such a thing is until you have one.

To create a contact screen shortcut, follow these steps:

  1. Touch the All Apps icon.

  2. Choose the Widgets category from the top of the screen.

  3. Scroll the Widget category until you find the contact widgets.

    The two contact widgets are available, each different in size. One is three icon widths wide; the other is one. Both are one icon width tall.

  4. Long-press a contact widget, and drag it to the Home screen.

  5. Choose a contact from the tablet’s address book, someone to assign to that widget.

    The widget represents the contact, giving you handy access to his information from the Home screen.

When you touch the contact widget, you see a pop-up window. Choose an activity for that contact, such as sending an e-mail.

Watch the tablet dream

Does the Nexus 7 fall asleep or does it just lock? A locked tablet seems rather restrictive, so you may prefer to think of the tablet as taking a snooze. But does it dream? Of course it does! You can even see the dreams, providing you activate the Daydream feature — and you keep the tablet connected to a power source or in a docking station. Heed these steps:

  1. Start the Settings app.

  2. Choose Display and then Daydream.

  3. Ensure that the Daydream switch is in the ON position.

  4. Choose which type of daydream you want displayed.

    Some daydream items feature a Settings button, which can be used to customize how the daydream appears.

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  5. Touch the When to Daydream button.

  6. Choose the Either option.

The daydreaming begins when the screen would normally time out and lock. So if you’ve set the tablet to lock after five minutes of inactivity, it daydreams instead.

  • To disrupt the tablet’s dreaming, swipe the screen.

  • The Nexus 7 doesn’t lock when it daydreams. To lock the tablet, press the Power Lock button.

How to add settings shortcut widgets

You can instantly slap down a shortcut to your favorite locations in the Settings app by creating a Settings widget. Here’s how it works:

  1. Touch the All Apps icon.

  2. Choose the Widgets category.

  3. Scroll through the list until you find the Settings Shortcut widget.

  4. Long-press the Settings Shortcut widget and place it on the Home screen.

  5. Choose an item from the list.

    Each item represents a shortcut to a specific spot in the Settings app, such as Display, Sound, Wi-Fi, and so on. Choose a feature you adjust often.

Touch the Settings Shortcut widget to quickly access its associated feature. For example, to quickly access the Bluetooth screen, create a Bluetooth widget.

How to add spice to dictation

Too few people use dictation, despite how handy it can be. If you use it, you might notice that it occasionally censors some of the words you utter. Perhaps you’re the kind of person who doesn’t put up with that kind of s***.

Relax, b****. You can lift the vocal censorship ban by following these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose Language & Input.

  3. Touch the Settings icon by the item Google Voice Typing.

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  4. Remove the check mark by the option Block Offensive Words.

And just what are offensive words? Apparently the words s***, c***, and even innocent little old a****** are deemed offensive by Google Voice. What the h***?

How to enter location information for your events

When you create an event for the Calendar app, be sure to enter the event location. You can type either an address (if you know it) or the name of the location.

The key is to type the text as you would type it in the Maps app when searching for a location. That way, you can touch the event location, and the Nexus 7 displays it on the touchscreen. Finding an appointment couldn’t be easier.

How to use the task manager

The Nexus 7 has no specific task manager app, but it does have a list of running apps that does almost the same thing.

To view running apps on your tablet, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose the Apps item.

  3. Choose the Running category.

    You see a list of apps currently active on your Nexus 7. Some of the items are apps, such as Google Play Magazines, but others are services, such as the Media service. Some apps may even have double entries, showing that the apps are doing more than one thing at a time.

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  4. Choose an app to examine more details.

    The details break down the app’s usage of the tablet’s resources into an organized list of exhaustive information that few people understand.

When examining an item, you can touch the Stop button to halt that app or service. Even though you can use this procedure to halt apps run amok, you shouldn’t go about and randomly stop apps and services. The end result could render the tablet unstable, requiring you to power off or reset to regain control.

How to check your data usage

Whether you have a Wi-Fi–only Nexus 7 or one that can also access the mobile data network, you can use the Data Usage screen to check Internet activity.

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To access the Data Usage screen, open the Settings app and choose Data Usage. You’ll see a graph plus a list of apps that have all recently accessed the Internet.

To review access for a specific app, choose it from the list. You see an overlay of the app’s data usage, as well as a delicious pie chart. If you notice that the app is using more data than it should, touch the View App Settings button. You may be able to adjust some of the settings to curtail unintended Internet access.

  • Adjust the start and stop time markers to get data usage information for a specific time period.

  • The time markers can also be adjusted when you’re viewing app-specific data.

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