Despite our Android devices becoming more personal as the years go by, with larger amounts of data being stored and hardware features such as encryption and fingerprint authentication securing it, often times there is still a need to either share or let someone else use them. This might be for something as simple as showing someone else some information on your device, giving it to a kid so they can play some games, or temporarily loaning it in case of an emergency. However, because our devices are now so personal, doing these things is not as easy as it used to be – even if you disable your fingerprint sensor or share your passcode, there might still be plenty of information or apps on your device that you don’t want to share. Thankfully, Android has a neat feature that allows you to easily solve this problem, and today we’re going to be taking a look at it!
Although the earliest versions of Android didn’t have it, a feature to add multiple users was finally included in the stock version of Android back in Lollipop, and is now available for most users. That means that any phone that you have bought in the last few years is going to have this feature, and it should be enabled by default. What it does is simple – it allows you to add multiple accounts to a single Android device, essentially making it like a desktop computer, where each account is isolated from each other and has their own files and applications. In addition, Android also supports guest accounts, which we’ll take a look at. To start, just swipe your notification pane down:
You’re probably very familiar with this screen by now, as it contains all of your notifications and shortcuts for the various functions of your device. This screen might look different in your device, but it should act essentially the same. Now, to access the user interface, just tap this icon on the top left:
This user panel should appear:
You should see your own account, and depending on your settings, the ability to add another user, or add a guest. Pressing “More Settings” shows you some extra options:
Here, you can also add another user and change some of the limitations around the user and guest accounts:
To add a new account, simply tap the “Add user” option:
Once you do so, your device should ask you to set up the account as well:
The process is similar to what you have to do when you use your phone for the first time – you can add an account, transfer your apps, and move your data around:
At the end of the process, your new user should have access to the built-in apps and features of the phone, in addition to the data from their own Google account, without access to any of your personal data:
To switch back, just follow the same process – expand the notification pane, tap the user icon and select the user you’d like to switch to:
Guest accounts behave pretty much the same way, but with the added benefit that they are not persistent. Just like a separate user, guest accounts will have a sandboxed experience, but there is no set up process, so they won’t be able to bring their data over:
In guest mode, a notification is always present that allows you to delete all of the data for that account, so anything you do while in guest mode gets eliminated as soon as the account is removed or the notification is tapped:
That’s about it for today’s lesson! As you can see, multiple user support is one of the best features to come to Android in recent years, and at this point is surprisingly reliable and stable, with wide adoption and support across multiple devices and OEMs. This is a feature that always seems to come in handy when you least expect it, and is a great way to secure your device and yet still allow a third party to use it, each with their own files and apps. Any questions or doubts? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below!