How to enable the flashlight on your Android phone in 2020

Pixel 4 XL with the flashlight turned on
Pixel 4 XL with the flashlight turned on (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

When you step back and think about it, it's a little overwhelming to realize how much our phones are capable of. We can use them to watch endless hours of entertainment, play engaging games with great graphics, communicate with people all over the world, and so on.

Of all the various functions our phones can perform, one of the most useful is, undeniably, turning it into a flashlight.

Whether you need a light source when the power goes out or want to stay safe when walking your dog at night, here are the best ways to enable the flashlight on your Android phone.

Note: The following screenshots are from a Pixel 4 running Android 10. Things might look slightly different depending on the phone you're using, but the core process will still be the same.

How to enable the flashlight via Quick Settings

Without a doubt, this is the easiest way to enable the flashlight. It requires just a couple of taps, can be accessed no matter what you're doing on your phone, and is the fastest way to light up the world around you.

  1. On your phone, swipe down from the very top of the screen.
  2. Swipe down again to access your Quick Settings.
  3. Tap Flashlight.Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

Just like that, your flashlight will turn on! You're free to use it however you'd like (though we wouldn't advise keeping it on for more than a few minutes at a time), and when you want to turn it off, just tap the flashlight icon again.

If you see the icon the first time you swipe down from the top of your screen, you can just tap it right there without having to swipe down a second time. This will depend on where in your Quick Settings the icon is located, but it should be there for most people.

If it's not, tap the pencil icon at the bottom-left of the Quick Settings and you can move the flashlight higher on the list so it shows up after the first swipe.

How to enable the flashlight from the main Settings

The other method for turning on your flashlight isn't quite as streamlined, but if you ever want another way to access it, this is an option you have.

  1. Open the Settings on your phone.
  2. Tap the search bar at the top of the page.
  3. Search "flashlight."
  4. Tap the toggle to turn it on.Source: Joe Maring / Android Central

Doing this does the exact same thing as what we talked about at the top of this article, but as you can see, it's not as easy to access. Furthermore, while you need to be in the Settings app for this method, you can perform the other one no matter what it is you're doing on your phone.

Don't download apps just to use your flashlight

Flashlight apps on the Google Play Store

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Now that we've given you two safe and reliable ways to enable the flashlight on your Android phone, we want to give a little PSA about how not to do this.

If you search "flashlight" on the Google Play Store, you'll find a ton of different apps that allow you to use the flashlight. Many of them are promoted as being the "brightest flashlight" with different colors, features, etc.

Here's the thing — you don't need these apps at all. Your phone already allows you to do this right out of the box, and these apps aren't giving you any worthwhile features for downloading them.

Also, while just about every flashlight app can be downloaded for free, they're either riddled with tons of ads, request unnecessary permissions for your phone, or both. As silly as it might sound for a flashlight app, you're asking for headaches and trouble if you download them.

Keep it simple, turn on your flashlight with the tools you phone gives you by default, and you'll be all set.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.