How to Manipulate the Touchscreen on Your Android Phone

By Dan Gookin

The touchscreen on your Android phone works in combination with one or two of your fingers. You can choose which fingers to use, or whether to be adventurous and try using the tip of your nose, but touch the touchscreen you must. Here are some of the many ways you manipulate your phone’s touchscreen:

  • Tap: In this simple operation, you touch the screen. Generally, you’re touching an object such as an icon or a control. You might also see the terms touch or press.

  • Double-tap: Touch the screen twice in the same location. A double-tap can be used to zoom in on an image or a map, but it can also zoom out. Because of the double-tap’s dual nature, you might consider using the pinch and spread operations instead.

  • Long-press: Tap part of the screen and hold down your finger. Depending on what you’re doing, a pop-up menu may appear, or the item you’re long-pressing may get “picked up” so that you can drag (move) it around. Long-press might also be referred to as tap and hold.

  • Swipe: To swipe, tap your finger on one spot and then move your finger to another spot. Swipes can go up, down, left, or right. This action often moves information on the touchscreen, similar to the way scrolling works on a computer. A swipe can be fast or slow. It’s also called a flick or slide.

  • Drag: A combination of long-press and then swipe, the drag operation moves items on the screen. Start with the long press, then swipe while keeping your finger on the screen. Lift your finger to complete the action.

  • Pinch: A pinch involves two fingers, which start out separated and then are brought together. The pinch is used to zoom out on an image or a map. This move may also be called a pinch close.

  • Spread: In the opposite of a pinch, you start with your fingers together and then spread them. The spread is used to zoom in. It’s also known as a pinch open.

  • Rotate: Use two fingers to twist around a central point on the touchscreen, which has the effect of rotating an object on the screen. If you have trouble with this operation, pretend that you’re turning the dial on a safe.

You can’t manipulate the touchscreen while wearing gloves, unless they’re gloves specially designed for use with electronic touchscreens, such as the gloves that Batman wears.