Top tips for your Google Nexus 7

If you’ve been lucky enough to bag a Google Nexus 7 tablet in the last few weeks there’s a chance this is either your first tablet or your very first Android device and you’re still learning the system. But even if you're an old hand at Android there are a few changes in Jelly Bean that you might miss.

To assist fellow Nexus 7 owners we’ve put together a list of hints and tips for newbies and veterans alike.

Take a screenshot

Grab a screenshot at any time by pressing power and volume together until you hear the confirmation tone.

A notification will appear so you can share the image and it can be viewed later through the Gallery app.

Quickly access settings

This is an easy time saver. To get to your settings without going into the app draw, pull down the notification bar and click the settings icon at the very top of the screen.

How to install Flash on the Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 and other Jelly Bean devices do not include support for Flash but you can set it up yourself by ‘sideloading’ the Flash installer. Sideloading means copying or downloading an Android APK software package and installing it on a device without using Google Play.

1. Go to Settings > Security and enable the ‘Unknown Sources’ option.
2. Download the Flash player APK (Google it for further links if this download is not working).
3. Copy the APK file to your Nexus 7.
4. Use a file manager such as Astro to locate and install Flash player.
5. Install a Flash compatible browser. Firefox has been confirmed to work for Flash however it is not yet officially supported on the N7 so will not download from Google Play, but you can download the APK from the Firefox wiki and sideload it.

Enable screen auto-rotation

Load an app and turn the N7 sideways...nothing will happen because auto-rotate is disabled by default, but it’s very easy to switch this feature on (and off if it's annoying you).

Google Nexus 7 settings and rotate lock shortcuts

Just pull down the notification menu and click the rotation lock icon, it’s at the top between the time/date and settings icon. 

Note that this will only work on apps, the home screen will be unaffected. If you'd like the home screen to rotate read about Nova Launcher in our Nexus 7 apps feature.

Maximise battery life

The Nexus 7 is good for 8-9 hours playing a HD video and will go for longer than that if you’re just browsing the web, but there are a few things you can do to increase battery life:

  • Bright screens use more power. Go to Settings > Display and switch off auto-brightness, then use the slider to set the brightness as low as you can tolerate. You should also lower the screen timeout limit.
  • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS use a lot of battery power so if you don’t require them at the time make sure they’re disabled.
  • Google will, by default, keep the Nexus 7 synced up with your Google services. However the more it does this the more battery life is consumed. Go to Settings > Accounts > Google > [account name] to disable this, and just manually update as required.

Google Music on Google Nexus 7

Take advantage of Google Music

US Nexus 7 users get full access to Google Music, an online service which allows you to upload 20,000 music files and stream them through a web browser or the Google Music app on any smartphone or tablet running Android 4.0 or above. This is especially helpful on the N7 where local memory is at a premium.

Unfortunately they’ve not opened it up to the rest of the world yet, but you can start using it now by sneakily registering through an American proxy server or VPN connection. .

Access the camera app

Because the N7 does not have a rear-facing camera the standard photo app for Android is hidden away and not accessible in the app draw. If you’d like to use the front-facing cam to take pictures you can restore access by installing Camera Launcher for Nexus 7 from Google Play.

Unlock the Nexus 7 with your face

Face Unlock is a cool feature introduced in Android 4.0 - instead of patterns, passwords or PINs it uses the front camera to ID your face. To enable it head over to Settings > Security > Screen Lock and follow the steps to configure this quirky function. 

It’s a good idea to enable the blinking option too as this will help prevent the Nexus being fooled by a photograph.

Instant access to Google Now

Google Now is Jelly Bean’s awesome new search and personal assistant utility. As well as offering voice control with impressive natural speech synthesis it’ll also give you relevant, up to date information.

But Google Now isn’t particularly obvious. It can be found by opening the app simply titled 'Google' but a much quicker way is to simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen. It’ll load instantly, providing a quick way to search and lots of useful info.

Another thing that’s easy to miss are Google Now’s settings which provide a large amount of control over what’s displayed on the main page. To get to there scroll to the bottom of Google Now and open up the menu in the lower right corner.

Google Maps on Google Nexus 7Take Google Maps offline

Google Maps normally relies on an internet connection to stream mapping and navigation data but you can take some of it offline to use Gmaps as a free satnav tool.

To do this open the main menu from the top right corner and select ‘Make available offline’. Move and zoom the screen to select the area of the map you wish to save. The maximum size is 85MB but Maps will warn you when it’s too large - zoom in to reduce file size.

Free music, apps, movies and books for the Nexus 7

Early N7 adopters all get a £15 credit into their Google Play account. Once you receive an email confirmation make your way to Google Play and you can use these funds to purchase and download music, movies, books and apps from the Google Play store.

As well as this free credit everyone gets a copy of obscure arthouse hit Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Open the Google Movies app and it should be listed under ‘My Movies’. Click the pin icon to download, or save storage space by streaming it in HD. 

A faster way to install apps

Google Play has a remote install feature which is helpful for all Android users - not just Nexus 7 owners - as it allows you to 'push' apps to your device via any web browser.

Go to Google Play on your computer, sign in and view an app. Click the Install button and select your device and it'll be automatically downloaded. This is enormously helpful if you're setting up a new Android device, or just want a more comfortable way to browse the Google app store.


  • neutral

    by roy ashby at 13:28 on 3 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    I have a google pinyin setting app on my N7 , i am not chinese and want to unistall it, but there is no uninstall tab , any thoughts how this can be deleted

  • Matt Powell - EditorEditor - Matt Powell

    by Matt Powell at 13:31 on 3 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    The only way to remove an app which doesn't have an uninstall option is to root the device and use a tool like Root Uninstaller to get rid of it. We'll have a rooting guide for the N7 up shortly.

  • unhappy

    by Zach at 20:36 on 3 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    I tried the above comment on how to put flash on my N7, but after successfully doing those steps no flash videos work! Cmon google, I bought this tab over all others because I was told it supported FLASH. Can anyone help me out?

  • happy

    by Rajan at 23:50 on 4 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Thank you for this informative article, especially the section on Flash player workarounds!

  • unhappy

    by Zach at 23:46 on 5 Aug 2012 Report abuse


  • Matt Powell - EditorEditor - Matt Powell

    by Matt Powell at 8:54 on 6 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Zach, are you trying to play Flash content through Chrome, the default Nexus 7 browser? Because that does not support Flash. You need to install an alternative browser - I've updated the guide with a link for Firefox, that's been confirmed to work for Flash.

  • neutral

    by JACQUES at 21:08 on 7 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Matt, Firefox Beta crashed while showing FLV (Flash) docs. Any idea why?

  • Matt Powell - EditorEditor - Matt Powell

    by Matt Powell at 9:32 on 8 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Try the latest full version (14.-something). Tested that and it definitely works.

  • neutral

    by gurbasant singh at 5:21 on 12 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    How can I save a downloaded PDF file on N7?. And how can I find a saved PDF or word file?.

  • Matt Powell - EditorEditor - Matt Powell

    by Matt Powell at 10:18 on 13 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Try long-pressing on the PDF link in a web browser, you should get a save/download option. To find it on the N7 memory grab yourself a file manager app. I like Astro but there are plenty of others on Google Play.

  • happy

    by Sue at 18:21 on 27 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Many thanks for a very useful article. Having been an apple user Im still getting to grips with Android Any hints on how to close down apps? I cant seem to get the maps app to close and it keeps talking to me when it loses the GPS signal! Thanks

  • Matt Powell - EditorEditor - Matt Powell

    by Matt Powell at 9:36 on 28 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Hit the button to the right of the home button and it'll bring a list of running apps. If you swipe Maps to the right it'll close down and disappear from the list. You could also install a task manager app from the Android market.

  • happy

    by Sue at 10:00 on 28 Aug 2012 Report abuse

    Many thanks -just off to install flash now hopefully to watch iplayer

  • neutral

    by Lorraine Ryan at 18:10 on 16 Sep 2012 Report abuse

    Can you use an external memory via the micro usb?

  • neutral

    by jeffypooh at 4:05 on 18 Sep 2012 Report abuse

    To remove the pinyin app, update it and then it will offer a option to hide it.

  • happy

    by brian at 13:41 on 22 Sep 2012 Report abuse

    Followed flash install procedure above for my Nexus7 and for the first time can now play video on bbc and music off virgin media storage on Firefox beta browser Wonderful


  • neutral

    by axadams at 14:21 on 12 Oct 2012 Report abuse

    With the Chrome browser is there a way to navigate eg Page Up/Down and Home, other than scrolling ? I cant believe they don't have allow the basic shortcuts somehow and its becoming increasingly frustrating. I love it otherwise but am considering other browsers that have better functionality.

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