The Importance of Settings

Settings was the kind of thing I used to dismiss until I started library school.  Often in school, our homework would be to explore how search systems worked and which options were available in the settings.  Consequently, my confidence to try things with technology improved.  Whereas before I may have been afraid to try options, now I like to experiment and see what happens.  However, I do take precautions.   When I remember, I back up everything first.  I often create test samples to play around with.

Typically, settings exist for every app you use and for every device you own.  It is usually denoted by a recognizable icon of a gear, which often looks similar between most apps and operating systems.

When I get a new device, one of the first things I do is create a shortcut to settings on my home screen.  Then I check out what is available and what it controls.  For apps, settings can often be found with your account profile, or as a menu option.  Typically settings will control things like:

  • appearance (e.g. colors, size)
  • privacy
  • connections (e.g. wifi, internet)
  • actions (e.g. my swipe action in gmail is “delete” by default instead of “archive” – read more here)
  • security
  • notifications (e.g. especially for social media apps)
  • general management

Here is a screencap of the options available through the settings on my smartphone.  On an Apple computer, look for system preferences under the apple menu.  And for computers running Windows, check out the control panel.

There are different types of settings.  Some may be used to control things on a global-level.  In other words changes can be set that will apply to your entire smartphone (e.g. only upload data when connected to wi-fi).  Whereas other settings may be specific for one app, or may only control one area.

You have likely already used settings on numerous occasions to do things such as change the wallpaper on your home or lock screen, add wi-fi connections, or put your smartphone into flight mode.  Or you may have used it to adjust privacy settings for your Facebook account, which Facebook is always changing.

Your challenge:

Look through the settings on your devices and for each app.  Investigate what can be controlled, or changed.  Then you can customize apps and devices based on your needs.

Productivity tip: Try this when you’re waiting for something, or on transit.

3 comments for “The Importance of Settings

  1. jamesw2965
    18 July 2017 at 08:27

    Wow you are becoming quite the tech wiz. That’s awesome. You shouldn’t be scared of settings, but you should be cautious. I say that as I have done what your saying and messed up my whole device and had to factory reset the device to get it back. So, allow me to make a few suggestions.
    1) if you can learn about each setting on YouTube. This gives you the option to see what those settings can do without doing it on your phone.
    2) If you have another device do whatever you want. Play with everything. Doesn’t matter what you do to that device as it’s not your working phone.
    Always back up the device your going to play with. Not just the data but the complete phone profile if you can. So if you do play with the setting and mess something up. You can always reinstall the backup and be right back where you started.
    In truth you should be backing up your device on a regular basis.


    • The Deletist
      19 July 2017 at 11:23

      Thanks for the great tips. Excellent idea to play around with an old device. Equally good is your suggestion to learn about the settings on YouTube. Yes! I often watch a short video to learn how to do things. And so critical to back things up!


  2. Anonymous
    18 July 2017 at 16:20

    inteesting. thanks for the helpful hints.

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