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What is app pinning on Android and how do you set it up?

Here's why you might want to use this feature when navigating the apps on your Android phone, and how to use it.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Woman texting on a phone.
Uwe Krejci/Getty Images

There's a feature that Android has had for some time, and it's one you've probably never heard about, let alone used. The feature is called app pinning and it actually can come in handy at times.

First off, what exactly is app pinning? A pinned app takes over your entire home screen display, and while it's pinned, you can't access other apps. 

Sounds interesting, but why would you ever need to use such a feature?

Let me offer up a pretty obvious scenario.

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Say, for instance, you have a particular app you use often. But while carrying your phone around, you sometimes find yourself accidentally dismissing the app, pulling down your Notification Shade, or opening another app in its place. If that sounds like a situation you might ever find yourself in, pinning the app will solve that problem. Once you've pinned that app, it doesn't matter how you hold your device. Unless you unpin the app, it's not going anywhere.

If that sounds like something you might want to take advantage of, here's how to set it up and use it. 

What is app pinning on Android and how do you set it up?

Requirements

The only thing you'll need is an Android phone. Since this feature has been around for some time, the version of Android you are using most likely will support pinned apps.

1. Enable app pinning

Go to your Android phone's Security settings, choose Advanced settings, choose App pinning, and toggle "Use app pinning" on. Select whether you want it to ask for an unlock pattern before unpinning.

2. Open the app in question

Upon unlocking your Android phone, open the app you want to pin to the home screen.

3. Open the app Overview

With the app open, swipe up from the bottom of your display to open the Overview, where you can swipe through and select from your currently open apps.

Android Overview mode showing multiple apps.

Locate the app to be pinned from the Overview.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Also: How to control what apps send notifications to your Android

4. Open the drop-down menu

While still in the Overview, you should see an icon for the app above its preview. Tap that icon to reveal the drop-down menu.

The Overview menu showing a pin option.

The Pin menu entry is found in the Overview drop-down.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Pin the app

Tap the Pin entry to pin the app to your home screen. Once it's pinned, the app will take over the entire display and won't budge until you unpin it.

Also: The best Android phones 

How to unpin apps on Android

This is where it gets slightly awkward. The steps for unpinning an app are quickly and clearly stated when you pin an app. Android tells you to swipe up and hold. What it doesn't tell you is where to swipe and how long you hold. It also doesn't tell you (at least with the Pixel 7 Pro) that the gesture to unpin the app will also lock the phone. It's only after you unlock the Pixel 7 Pro that the app will become unpinned. 

Yes, it's a strange result but it does work every time. 

Although the unpinning action isn't nearly as seamless as it should be, the feature itself can come in very handy. I've used it on a few occasions and was always quite glad it was available. So, if you ever find yourself in a situation where your Android app must remain on the home screen at all times, app pinning is the feature you need.

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