If you have an Android phone or tablet, there are times when you might want to pin an app to the screen so that you’d have to re-enter the device’s passcode to leave the app.
For example, if you want to let someone borrow your phone so that they can make a phone call, play a game, etc, but you don’t want them to be able to go out of that app and access everything on your phone, you can pin the phone app, game, browser, etc, to the screen so that they would need to enter your passcode before they could do anything outside of that app.
And if this sounds good to you, you’re in the right place, because in this article, that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do using the screen pinning feature (otherwise known as app pinning) that’s built into Android.
Prefer to watch a video about how to use screen pinning on Android? Click here.
How To Enable Screen Pinning
Before you can pin an app on your android phone or tablet, you’ll first need to enable screen pinning in the settings if you haven’t already.
To do that, the first thing you’ll need to do is open up the settings app on your phone.
Now, before we begin, I just want to say, I am using a Google Pixel running Android 12, so if you have a Google Pixel 3, 4, 5, or 6, this process should be exactly the same for you.
But, if you have an older Pixel or a different android device from a different manufacturer, things could look a bit different (especially in the settings app).
The overall process should be fairly similar for all phones, so you should still be able to follow along, but just keep in mind it might not be exactly the same as the screenshots I’ve taken on my phone.
Once you’re in the settings app, I find the easiest way to find the screen pinning setting is to search for it in the search bar at the top of the screen.
You could look for it in the menus if you want, but it can be a bit hard to find and different manufacturers put it in different places, so I’m going to use the search.
In the search, type “Screen pinning” or “App pinning”, and then tap on the result that says something like “App pinning” or “Screen pinning”.
Now, you’ll be taken to the settings menu where the screen pinning settings are, and the menu option will be highlighted, and you’ll just need to tap on it to go into the screen pinning settings.
Now that you’re in the Screen pinning or App pinning settings, you’ll just need to toggle the switch to turn the feature on.
When you turn it on, you might get some sort of warning popup, but if you do, you’ll just need to tap “Ok” or something like that to proceed.
Now, screen pinning will be enabled! But, before you start pinning apps, you might want to make sure the switch below is turned on so that you will have to re-unlock your phone in order to unpin the app.
It’s up to you if you want to have this enabled, but I would probably recommend it as not having it enabled kind of defeats the purpose of screen pinning.
How To Pin An App On Android
Now that you’ve enabled screen pinning, you’re ready to actually pin an app! To do that, you’ll just need to open the app you want to pin (I’m using the calculator for this example), and then, you’ll need to go to the app switcher screen.
You know, that screen where you can scroll through your most recently opened apps and switch between them. Depending on your phone, you might need to tap the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, or slide your finger up from the bottom and hold it for a few seconds.
But however you get there on your phone, you’ll just need to do that now.
And then, you’ll need to tap on the app icon at the top of the screen.
And, in the menu that appears, you’ll just need to tap “Pin”.
As I said before, this process might look a little different on your phone, but it should be fairly similar. Or, if you’re phone’s quite old, you might need to tap on a pin icon in the bottom right hand corner instead like this:
But regardless of what the pin button looks like, the app will now be pinned, and you should see a message explaining what that means. This message also tells you how to unpin the app, so you’ll definitely want to read this because how it’s done varies based on your phone.
But once you’ve read it, you’ll just need to tap “Got it” (or something similar) to begin using the pinned app.
Now, the app will be pinned, and you’ll be able to use that app just like normal, but you won’t be able to go out of the app, pull down the notification shade, see the time and battery level, access the Google assistant, or do anything else that is not part of that app.
How To Unpin An App On Android
Once you’re done with using the pinned app, and you want to unpin it so that your phone will work like normal, you can do that fairly easily, but exactly how it’s done will depend on your phone. (The message that popped up when you pinned the app should have explained how it’s done).
For most people, if your phone is using gesture navigation, you’ll just need to slide your finger up from the bottom of the screen and hold it for a few seconds until you are taken to the lock screen. (Similar to what you would do to get to the app switcher screen).
But if your phone uses three button navigation, it will obviously be a bit different. With three button navigation on a Pixel (and probably a lot of other phones), you need to hold down the back button and the square button at the same time until you are taken to the lock screen.
But with other phones (like me five year old Motorola), you just need to hold the back button until you reach the lock screen.
I’m sure there are other ways to unpin apps that I haven’t covered here, but the way you do it on any phone should be something like this, and hopefully, with the help of the message on the screen, you’ll be able to figure it out.
Then, once you’re at the lock screen, you’ll just need to unlock your phone however you normally would (eg: fingerprint/face/pin/pattern), and then you’ll be back into your phone and the app will now be unpinned so you can leave the app and do whatever you want!
And that’s all there is to it! Now you know how to enable screen pinning, and how to pin and unpin apps on your Android phone or tablet.