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4 months ago

Ask AC: Is it safe to use the Amazon App Store?

30

Amazon is in a tough spot because of Google's "all or nothing" Unknown sources setting.

Since we're all fairly concerned about mobile security on a personal and professional level, we recommend that the phone in your pocket and full of your personal data has a locked bootloader and "Unknown sources" left unchecked. If you find a trusted app that needs to be sideloaded, disable the setting again once you've installed it. It's the last barricade between your data and an app that hasn't been vetted for safety.

Because we take this stance, more than a few folks have written in with the same question:

Is it safe to use the Amazon App Store? It requires Unknown sources be enabled.

First, thanks to everyone who asked. We love it when folks try to get the answers they need and try to help as much as we can.

The Amazon App Sore is a dilemma. The problem is that it can update apps over-the-air like Google Play or the Apple AppStore but to do this in needs the Unknown sources setting to be enabled. That means if you did sideload a nasty app that wants to install other, possible nastier, apps you let them try it. That's what Unknown sources is — it allows sideloading of apps that didn't come from Google Play and have the right signature.

Amazon does a good (4 stars; would buy again) job vetting the apps they put in their store. Apps must be approved before they are published — the same method Apple uses — and so far, we haven't heard of any slipping through the cracks and being harmful in any way. While Google has no public opinion of Amazon and their ventures with Android, BlackBerry has embraced them and it's an approved way to run Android apps on BlackBerry 10 devices. Their store is safe, and the apps you download from them are safe.

The hard part is offering a suggestion that works for everyone in this case. There just isn't one. As much as I hate to do it, this one gets two answers.

  • If you're a casual Android user — you don't read blogs every day or fiddle with settings and tweaks on your phone — leave the unknown sources box unchecked and skip the Amazon App Store. You'll find most of the apps in Google Play, and there's a good chance they will be a more recent version. This isn't fair to Amazon because they do run a tight ship, but that's just how Android works. This setting is an all-or-nothing thing.

  • If you are an enthusiast-type, go for it. Either manually toggle the setting when your phone tells you there's some sort of update, or run wide open and use good judgment for every app your download and install. You know the risks, and you own the hardware, so do what you please with it. Just be careful. Do it for old Uncle Jerry.

All this is more of a precaution that a reaction to anything. Malware isn't unheard of on Android, but the numbers you hear from companies who make money selling you security apps aren't quite as sensational when you consider the scale — there are about 1,600,000,000 Androids out there. And that's only counting the ones that have Google services installed. 10,000 is 0.000625% of the install base, and even 1,000,000 is less than 1%. But there's always a chance some crafty guy or gal can find a way to get your stuff. Do everything you can to keep your stuff safe.

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4 months ago

How to adjust screen brightness and sleep settings on Android

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How to adjust screen brightness and sleep settings on Android

How do I adjust screen brightness and sleep settings on Android?

On top of changing your phone's brightness, you can also customize the sleep settings, which allows you to choose how long it takes for your screen to shut when you're not using it. Here's how to adjust your brightness and sleep settings.

How to adjust your screen brightness on Android

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Shade. Depending on which Android phone you have, you may have to swipe twice.
  2. Tap and hold the brightness slider. It's the icon that looks like the sun.
  3. Drag the brightness slider to your desired brightness.
  4. Release the slider.

How to turn off Adaptive brightness on Android

Adaptive brightness gives your phone the ability to adjust the screen brightness automatically depending on the amount of light around you. The setting is typically on by default, but it's easy to turn off if you want to.

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Shade. Depending on which Android phone you have, you may have to swipe twice.
  2. Tap on the settings button. It's the gear icon in the top right.

  3. Tap Display.
  4. Tap the On/Off switch beside Adaptive brightness.

You can follow these exact steps to turn the adaptive brightness setting back on whenever you need.

How to turn on Ambient display on Android

Enabling Ambient display allows you to view the time and notifications on your lock screen without having to press the power or home buttons.

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Shade. Depending on which Android phone you have, you may have to swipe twice.
  2. Tap on the settings button. It's the gear icon in the top right.

  3. Tap Display.
  4. Tap the On/Off switch beside Ambient display.

Follow the same steps to turn off Ambient display whenever you want.

How to change the sleep settings on Android

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Shade. Depending on which Android phone you have, you may have to swipe twice.
  2. Tap on the settings button. It's the gear icon in the top right.
  3. Tap Display.

  4. Tap Sleep.
  5. Tap the amount of time you want. Your options are as follows:

    • 15 seconds
    • 30 seconds
    • 1 minute
    • 2 minutes
    • 5 minutes
    • 10 minutes
    • 30 minutes

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4 months ago

Pokémon Go Medals: How to unlock bronze, silver and gold for everything!

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They're mostly for rubbing in everyone's face, which is why you need all of them!

The Medal system in Pokémon Go is a little self serving for the moment. You don't gain anything by unlocking them, aside from a little note in your account saying you've unlocked them. That means there's a list of accomplishments you and your friends can compete on unlocking, and obviously the one with the most Medals unlocked is the best Pokémon Go player right?

Every Pokémon Go medal comes in Bronze, Silver, and gold. Here's what you need to do in order to unlock each of these Medals!

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4 months ago

How much mobile data does Pokémon Go use?

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How much mobile data does Pokémon Go use?

How much of my monthly mobile data is being used up by Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a really fun game, and part of what makes it so interesting is the fact that you need to go outside and move around to play it effectively. That of course means you'll be out of the range of your home Wi-Fi network, using up mobile data as you walk around. Some "tricks" like downloading offline maps in Google Maps won't actually save you any data usage (though it's a great feature for Maps!), and unfortunately the Pokémon Go app itself can't really limit data usage much.

But if you're looking to cut down on the amount of data you're using overall when out-and-about playing Pokémon Go, we're here to help!

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5 months ago

How to play Pokémon Go

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Here's how to download, install, and quickly begin playing Pokémon Go!

Pokémon Go is everywhere, and that's no accident! It's a fun, free game that's accessible to anyone, in any city. But getting started with the game takes a bit of setup, so here's what you need to know.

How to download and install Pokémon Go from the Play Store

Downloading Pokémon Go is easy! Some Android phones may see different login options or icon placements depending on the type of device, but these instructions should apply to most people.

Note: If you're on a computer, you can skip steps 1-3 by downloading Pokémon Go directly from the Google Play Store in your browser.

  1. Tap on Play Store icon. This will be on your home page or in your app drawer.
  2. Tap the search bar. Type pokemon go.
  3. Tap Install button.

  4. Once download, tap Pokémon Go icon on home screen or app drawer.
  5. Tap accept on four permissions (Android 6.0+ only).
  6. Tap Sign up with Google. If there is more than one account, choose primary account.
  7. Enter birth date (if applicable).

  8. Accept terms and conditions.
  9. Proceed through style selection.

How to get started playing

Once you've chosen your character and style, you have to choose your first Pokémon! There are three choices: Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander (or Pikachu, if you're deft).

  1. Tap on your starter Pokémon.
  2. Enable camera for AR.
  3. Flick PokéBall towards Pokémon.
  4. Capture Pokemon. Celebrate!

That's it! Now you're ready to start walking around and levelling up your character.

Pokémon Go

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5 months ago

Pokémon Go Android settings you need to know

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Pokémon Go Android settings you need to know

What are the Pokémon GO Android settings you need to know?

Welcome back, Pokémon! We've been waiting ever so patiently. Well, not patiently, if we're being completely honest. Now that Pokémon Go lives on your Android device, you need to know how to navigate the settings before jumping in and playing the game.

Accessing the Main Menu

  1. Launch the Map View of Pokémon Go.
  2. Tap the Main Menu button. It's the Poké Ball at the bottom of your screen.
  3. Tap Settings at the top right.
  4. Tap the menu item you wish to select.

    Tap Main Menu, tap Settings, select a setting item

Music

The music is enabled by default, so don't be alarmed when you head out to play and you suddenly have your own Junichi Masuda soundtrack accompanying your walk. You can toggle it off here.

Sound Effects

The game sound effects are enabled by default, and as awesome as they are, you may not always want them on. You can toggle them off here.

Vibrations

Vibrations are enabled by default, and they are useful for letting you know about nearby Pokémon. But if you don't want them, they can be toggled off here.

Battery Saver

This is your battery life optimization feature. The reality is that this game is going to drain your battery mighty quickly. While the Battery Saver is enabled, your display will be disabled when your device is pointed downward. You'll still be able to track distance in this mode, and you will continue to be notified if Pokémon are nearby.

More: How to save your battery while playing Pokémon Go

More: Best external battery packs for Pokémon Go

Quick Start

This will launch a gameplay tutorial. If you're brand new to the Pokémon Go experience, this is going to be tremendously helpful.

Help Center

The official Help Center gets launched in your web browser to answer any more detailed questions you may have.

About Pokémon GO

If inquiring minds want to know, here is where you'll find the copyrights, Terms of Service (seriously, consider reading it), Privacy Policy, and license information regarding the game.

Sign Out

Well, that one pretty much explains itself... and you probably won't be using it very much.

Pokémon Go

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5 months ago

Adding a USB Security Key to your Google account is a good idea — and here's how to do it

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Two-factor authentication can protect your account, and a USB Security Key makes for a great backup if you lose your phone.

We've gone over why using two-factor authentication on your online accounts is a good idea, and showed you how to set it up for your Google account as well as how to get started with Authy if you use more than one phone or computer. But we're not done yet!

There is a third thing you can do to help secure your Google account, and this one also is a cover-your-butt backup in case you lose your phone — and the authenticator app you installed on it. We're talking about USB Security Keys. They're relatively cheap (starting at about $10), easy to set up and can get you into your Google account from any computer anywhere.

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5 months ago

Ask AC: What do I need to do when I change my SIM card?

9

Going to change your SIM card? It's usually simple, but here are a couple of things to know before you look for a paperclip.

Todd from Belfast writes in:

"I travel a lot with my new job, and the company doesn't like us to use the issued phone for personal calls and texts. Is there anything I need to know when I'm changing the SIM card on my LG Android phone?"

Hi, Todd! Changing your SIM card is mostly a plug and play affair. Chances are that all you need to do is shut the phone off, pull out the old one and pop in the new. You really don't need to shut the phone off if you know how to manually refresh your network connection. But turning things off is usually easier because a reboot is quick and simple. When you reboot, it should just work. But there are a couple things you should know and keep in the back of your mind whilst you're plugging and playing.

  • Some phones, like the single-SIM version of the Samsung Galaxy S7, the LG G5 and many others, share a single slot for both the SIM card and the SD card. When you pop out the tray, be ready for two little things that can get lost easier than you think to come out with it. If your phone is similar, and the SD card will pop out along with the SIM card, you need to either unmount the SD card or just shut the phone off. I suggest the latter.

  • Your phone may not have the right APN (Access Point Name) programmed in the system. If you can't get a connection, or can't send or receive texts, or your data speeds are 2009 slow you need to check out the settings. We have a complete walkthrough for that if you need it.

Read: What is an APN, and how do I change it?

  • Your phone needs to be unlocked. We don't mean the bootloader or root or Cyanogen or anything of the sort, we're talking about network unlocked. If you bought your phone direct from a carrier — especially in North America — it could be locked to their network. If this is the case, you'll not be able to add a new APN or change to another APN, and nothing is going to work. You can talk to your carrier or use a third-party unlocking service to "fix" it.

Read: The best unlocked phones

These are worst case scenario type things. Usually, just shutting your phone off and changing the SIM card will do the trick as long as the phone itself has support for the network you're trying to use. But it's always good to know the what-ifs!

Good luck, Todd, and enjoy your travels!

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5 months ago

How to save and screenshot Snapchat Snaps on Android

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How to save Snapchats on Android

How do I save my Snapchat snaps? This is how. (And it's about to get even easier.)

Snapchat has become a social media art form, so it's no surprise that people want to preserve their Snapchat artistry. Saving your snaps is a lot easier than you may think, so here's how to capture and save your snap without having to screenshot yourself.

Note: Snapchat recently announced Memories — a new way to save your Snaps and Stories. We'll update this post once the feature has rolled out.

How to save your Snapchats on Android

  1. Launch Snapchat from your home screen or the app drawer.
  2. Either take a new Snap, or open one you've already done.
  3. Tap the download button on the bottom left of your screen. It looks like an open box with a downward-facing arrow.

    Launch Snapchat from your home screen, tap the shutter button, then tap the download button.

A prompt will appear at the bottom of the screen letting you know that your video or picture has been saved to your Android phone's gallery.

How to save other people's Snapchats on Android

  1. Launch Snapchat from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Swipe right to your chat page.
  3. Tap on the snap to open it.
  4. Take a screenshot of the image or video. The way you take a screenshot will depend on your phone, but it's usually a combination of the power and volume buttons.

    Swipe right to your chat page, tap on the snap to open it, once it appears just screenshot it with your phone.

Fair warning

Every time you go to take a screenshot of a video or photo that's been sent to you, Snapchat will automatically inform the person on the other end that you saved their snap via a notification and a screenshot icon. While this may not seem like a huge thing, it actually makes saving other people's snaps nearly impossible.

Some people have taken to using screen recorders to save other people's snaps, while others will use a separate phone altogether to quickly take a photo of other people's Snapchat's.

Don't bother trying to delay the screenshot notification by turning off Wi-Fi or your mobile data either – the person on the other end will eventually get that screenshot notification no matter what.

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5 months ago

I rooted my Nexus 5X for themes, and here's what I learned

91

Believe it or not, I like simple.

That may not sound quite right for a themer, but I do. I well and truly do love simple. That's why I loved Motorola's phones and the Nexus approach to Android. But there are limits to what you can do in the simple sandbox, while your bootloader is locked and your phone is stock. You can replace your launcher, but you can't replace the blinding white in all the Google apps. You can't bring back that seek bar in the Play Music notification you've missed for two years. And you can't get into the nitty gritty details of choosing how your Android system looks and behaves. For that, you need complete control of your device.

And that's why I've gone back into the chaos theory that is root.

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5 months ago

How to install and set up Authy for two-factor authentication on your Android

17

Using two-factor authentication is a great way to protect yourself and your data. It's also fairly easy to do once you get used to having an extra step when you first use an account on your Android. Using it on multiple devices is easy with Authy.

There are several great apps you can use on your phone to get a 2FA (that's the abbreviation for two-factor authentication and it's much easier to type) token when you need one, and if you have multiple things with a screen that may need access to 2FA codes, Authy is pretty hard to beat. After you set up an Authy account, you can install the app on all your Android devices and any computer that has the Chrome web browser and the Authy extension installed. The first thing you need to do is install the Authy app from Google Play on a phone with a working SIM card.

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5 months ago

How to recover lost Google contacts for Android

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How to recover lost Google contacts for Android

What to do when you've lost your Google contacts?

If you think you've somehow lost all of your Google contacts on your Android phone, don't sweat. The Google account associated with your Android device (that you likely set up when you set up your phone) keeps a handy backup for just such an occasion.

If your Google account is synced with your phone, then you should be able to restore a backup of all of your contacts as far back as 30 days. You'll just have to access and restore things via your computer. Here's how.

How to recover lost Google contacts for Android

You would've had to enter all of your contacts into your Gmail account for this to work. Google won't retrieve contents stored on your SIM card.

  1. Launch your web browser from the desktop, taskbar, Dock, or application folder of your computer.
  2. Navigate to your Gmail account.
  3. Click the Gmail dropdown in the upper lefthand corner of your screen.
  4. Click Contacts.

    Click Gmail. click Contacts

  5. Click More just under the search bar.
  6. Click Restore Contacts...

    Click More, click Restore Contacts...

  7. Click a time to restore to. If you click Custom you can set it to restore from as far back as 29 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes ago.
  8. Click Restore.

    Choose a time to restore to, click Restore

  9. Pick up your Android phone.
  10. Launch Settings from your home screen, the Notification Shade, or the app drawer.
  11. Tap Accounts.
  12. Tap Google.

    Launch Settings, tap Accounts, tap Google

  13. Tap the account that your contacts are associated with if you have more than one.
  14. Tap the menu button in the top righthand corner of your screen. It's three vertical dots.
  15. Tap Sync now.

    Tap your account, tap the menu button, tap Sync now

Your phone should now sync with your Google account and the Google contacts you thought were lost from your phone should now be right back where they belong.

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5 months ago

How to back up your Android

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Losing your stuff is no fun. Neither is trying to get it all back on a new phone. Here are some tips to make it easier to keep everything important backed up.

We keep a lot of things on our phones. We have pictures and videos, details about the people we know, schedules and important dates and more. Many of us depend on our phones to help keep track of a good part of our daily lives. With all this stuff stored in one portable place, it can be a disaster if we lose it all. Some of us have been there — our phones were lost or stolen or broken. It's not fun to try and sort it all out on a new phone, Not fun at all. That's why it's important to try and copy everything in another place and keep a backup of your important data.

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5 months ago

How to turn off Facebook Live notifications

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We've all seen what fireworks look like. This Fourth of July, do yourself a favor and disable Facebook Live notifications.

Good news, everyone! Facebook has made it easier than ever to broadcast what you're doing, live. Bad news, everyone! Facebook has made it easier than ever to broadcast what you're doing, live. And the thing about live video is that it's pointless if nobody's watching. So Facebook makes sure that you get a notification every damn time one of your friends (or a page that you follow) goes live.

Sometimes that's great! Especially when it's the Android Central Facebook page that's doing the streaming, right?

Other times, it's downright awful. Holidays such as the Fourth of July here in the U.S. are one of those times. We've all seen fireworks before. Many of us will be out watching them, live. (Like, in-person.) So the last thing we need is 200 notifications of other people broadcasting their own fireworks experiences over relatively low resolution.

(Note that this only works from the full Facebook site, not m.facebook.com (which your phone will try to send you to), or from within the Facebook app.)

Here's how to to turn off Facebook Live notifications:

  1. Go to your Facebook settings. Drill down to Settings>Notifications>On Facebook.
  2. Now choose "Edit." (Note: This link should take you directly.)
  3. Toggle "Live Videos" to OFF.

Note that this only works from the full Facebook site, not m.facebook.com (which your phone will try to send you to), or from within the Facebook app.

Alternatively, if you just want to kill Facebook Live notifications from a single person or page, you can do so from within the notifications themselves. Just long-press on the person you want to squelch, and then choose whether to dismiss that single notification, or to turn off all notifications of live videos from that person.

Unless you absolutely hate any use of Facebook Live, we might suggest not turning off these notifications permanently. While they might get annoying when you've got groups of friends all showing the same thing (and the same thing that you yourself might be doing), you might well miss something interesting other times.

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5 months ago

How to back up photos and video to your computer or the cloud

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How to back up photos and video to your computer or the cloud

How do I back up my photos and video to my computer?

You have all these awesome photos and video on your phone, but what happens when you decide to buy a new phone or your storage becomes too full to take any more? Back it all up to your computer or the cloud!

There are a couple incredibly easy-to-use apps that let you store your photos and videos in the cloud or download them to keep forever.

How to back up your photos and videos to the cloud or your computer using Google Photos

Google Photos now comes standard on many an Android phone and it's a great way to store photos on your phone or to seamlessly upload them to Google Drive. If you don't have it, it's a free download in the Google Play Store.

Once it's downloaded, you just have to allow Google Photos access to your photo and video library, tap Backup and Sync and all of the photos and video on your phone will appear for you back up, share, and even edit!

How to back up your photos and video to the cloud using Google Photos

  1. Launch Google Photos from your home screen or from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the photo you'd like to upload to Google Drive or tap and hold a photo and select multiple photos to upload.
  3. Tap the share button at the top of the screen. It's a right-facing 'V' with dots on each point.
  4. Tap Save to Drive.

    Tap the photos you would like to back up, tap the share button, tap Save to Drive

  5. Tap Account to choose which Google account's Google Drive you want to save to.
  6. Tap Folder to select the folder within that Google Drive that you'd like to save to.
  7. Tap the folder you'd like to save to and tap Select Folder in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.
  8. Tap Save in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

    Tap account to select a Google account, tap Folder to select a folder, tap the folder you want to save to, tap Select folder, tap Save

Your photos will then be uploaded to that location in your Google Drive and you'll receive a notification when it's complete.

Google Drive gives you 15GB of storage for free, so depending on the size of the photos and video you're saving, you'll likely be able to save thousands of photos and hundreds of videos.

How to back up your photos and videos to your computer using Google Drive

Once you've saved your photos to Google Drive via Google Photos, you can download them to just about any device with an internet connection. Here's how to save them to your computer.

  1. Launch your web browser on your computer.
  2. Navigate to your Google Drive.
  3. Click the folder or photo in the list that you'd like to download.
  4. Click the more button on the upper right of your screen. It looks like three vertical dots.
  5. Click Download.

    Click the photos and video you would like to download from Google Drive, click the more button in the upper right of your screen, click Download

The photo(s) or video will now save to the downloads folder on your computer. You can do this with as many items as your computer's hard drive will hold. It may then be a good idea to transfer them to an external hard drive for safekeeping.

How to back up photos and video to the cloud or your computer using Dropbox

Dropbox is a free app that gives you up to 2GB of online storage for free. You can't go wrong with double-free! All you need to do is create an account, download the app on your phone and on your computer, and you're ready to start backing up your photos and video to both the cloud and your computer.

How to back up photos and video to the cloud using Dropbox

You'll first need to sign up for and create an account with Dropbox on your computer.

  1. Launch your web browser on your computer.
  2. Navigate to Dropbox.com.
  3. Click create an account.
  4. Enter your first name, last name, and email address into the fields. You can also choose to Sign up with Google.
  5. Click the checkbox to agree to the terms and conditions.

    Click create an account, enter your information, and click the checkbox to agree to the Dropbox terms and conditions

  6. Click Create an account.
  7. Click the Free Download button to install Dropbox on your computer.

    Click Create an account, click the Free Download button

Next, you'll want to install and set up Dropbox on your Android phone if it isn't already. Then you can upload photos and video until your folder is full! Here's how:

  1. Download the Dropbox app from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch Dropbox from your home screen or the app drawer.
  3. Tap Sign in.
  4. Enter your email address and password.
  5. Tap Sign in.

    Tap Sign In, enter your email address and password, tap Sign In

  6. Tap the add button. It's the plus sign in the blue circle.
  7. Tap Upload photos or videos.
  8. Tap the photo(s) and video you'd like to upload to Dropbox.
  9. Tap Upload in the bottom righthand corner of your screen.

    tap the add button, tap Upload photos and videos, tap the photos and video you want to upload to Dropbox, tap Upload

Your photos and video will now be uploaded to your Dropbox folder, which you can access from just about any device with an internet connection.

How to backup photos and video to your computer using Dropbox

  1. Launch the Dropbox app on your computer or visit dropbox.com.
  2. Sign in if you're not signed in automatically.
  3. Click the photo or video you'd like to download to your computer.
  4. Click Download in the top righthand corner of your screen.

    Click the photo or video you would like to download, click Download

The photo(s) and video will now appear in your downloads folder on your computer. Now they're yours to do with as you like! If you'd really like to save them, it's probably a good idea to back them up again to an external hard drive.

If you're using the Dropbox app on your computer, you can just open the file and save it like you would any other document.

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