How to use screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

What is screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

Screen pinning allows you to pin (lock) the screen to a certain app. This is one of the useful new features in Android Lollipop.

In short, screen pinning in Android Lollipop let you you enable your Android Lollipop device to only show a specific app’s screen. The device is temporally locked in this specific app, and you cannot access any other apps.

Screen pinning is different to kids mode in Samsung s5  devices. Kids mode is more comparable to guest mode in Android Lollipop.

When you may need screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

Screen pinning in Android Lollipop has been anticipated  for long time. At least, some Android users have expected some features similar to this.

In the following scenarios, you will find this screen pinning feature is extremely useful.

  • When playing games, you may accidentally tap the home button or back button. This may kill some games, at least it can be very annoying.
  • When your colleague wants to borrow your phone for an emergent call, you may not know whether he/she browse your private photos or other files or emails.
  • When your little kids want to play a game on your phone, you may be nervous because he/she may open some apps accidentally and may even delete some of your files inadvertently.

Whenever you want to lock your phone screen to a specific app so that the person can ONLY use this specific app, screen pinning in Android Lollipop will be your new handy tool.

How to enable screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

By default, screen pinning is not enabled in Android Lollipop. At least, this is the case for Google Nexus (Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 and Nexus 9) devices and Motorola Moto devices (Moto X including Moto X 2nd Gen, Moto G including Moto G 2nd Gen, and Moto E).

You need enable screen pinning in your Android Lollipop first. You need enable this feature only once.  Of course, you can also disable screen pinning at any time.

To enable screen pinning in Android Lollipop, you may follow these steps.

Step 1: Go to Settings–Security

You can access your phone settings from All Apps–Settings, or from Quick Setting.

Tap Security in the Settings. You need scroll down to Advanced section to find the screen pinning as shown below.


Enable Pin
Android Lollipop Settings


Step 2: Tap screen pinning

Tap Screen pinning as shown above to proceed.

Step 3: Drag the switch from left to right

After tapping Screen pinning in the previous step, you will get the screen pinning setting  page.

The only setting is the switch as shown below. You can turn on or turn off this feature.  No other settings.

When it is off, you can drag the switch from left to right to turn on screen pinning.

If it is on (indicated by the light blue color), you can drag the switch from right to left to turn off screen pinning in Android Lollipop as shown below.


Step 4: Screen pinning is now on.

After you drag the switch to right side, you are ready to use your Android Lollipop screen pinning.

How to use screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

To use Android Lollipop screen pinning, you may follow these steps.

Step 1: Start the app you want to pin

You need start the app which you want to pin to the screen.

You can use literally any apps on the phone.

Step 2: Tap Overview button

Once the app is started, you can tap the Overview button as shown below (red).


Step 3:  Tap the pin icon on the app

Now, you are in the overview page as shown above. This page used to be called recent apps page, which lists the apps you used.

In Android Lollipop, Google renamed this button as Overview button and this page of course as overview page.

For the last app in the list, you can find the pin icon as shown above. Tap the icon to pin this app to your phone screen.

Step 4: Set whether you want to use lock screen password protect the screen pinning

Before the app is pinned to your Android device, Android Lollipop asks you to confirm whether you are going to use screen pinning.

You need tap Start as shown below to actually pin the app to the screen.

Depending on your lock screen security settings, you may have different options.

If you didn’t set lock screen security or set the security as swipe, you cannot enforce a password for unpinning.

If you set PIN, lock pattern or password for the lock screen, you can optionally enable “Ask for PIN before unpinning” as shown below before tapping Start.

The result is obvious. If PIN is not required, you can unpin the app and use the phone without restriction.  Otherwise, you will be directed to lock screen to provide the PIN or password if you want to unpin the app.

The PIN or password required is your lock screen PIN or password.  There is no separate PIN or password for screen pinning in Android Lollipop.

Step 5: Screen pinning is working now.

After tapping Start in the previous step, the device is now locked to this app.

You should see the quick notification of “Screen pinned” as shown below.

When the screen pinning is working, if you try to tap Home, Back or Overview buttons, or try to swipe down to read notifications (which are always blocked anyway), you will get the notification on how to unpin the app as shown below (“To unpin this screen, touch and hold Overview“).

How to exit screen pinning in Android Lollipop?

You have two ways to exit screen pinning in Android Lollipop.

Method 1: Tap and hold overview button.

Method 2: Tap overview and back buttons simultaneously.

Both methods work in an identical way. If you request password for unpinning when pinning the app, you will be directed to the lock screen to proceed.

You cannot receive calls or notifications when screen pinning in Android Lollipop is in use

For security reasons, when screen pinning in Android Lollipop is in use (i.e., an app is pinned to the screen), all notifications will be blocked so that the user cannot read your SMS or email or other app notifications. This is not a bug.

But you should also remember that you cannot receive phone calls when screen pinning is in useYou even will not receive any missed calls notifications after unpinning the screen. The call history does not include any related records. I am not sure whether this is a bug.

Can you use screen pinning in Android Lollipop now?

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