Customize Android's screen timeout: Here's how

Android Screen Timeout

Ever try to use your Android phone while at home, only to find its screen constantly timing out and shutting off?

A smartphone's display timeout is designed to save battery life, of course -- and that's great when you're on-the-go -- but when you're using your phone as a living room clock or music player, it can quickly become a nuisance.

That brings us to this week's Android Power reader question, which comes from timeout-frustrated Android fan Rick M.

Rick writes:

I was given one of those multimedia stations for keeping my Motorola Droid charged. I really do enjoy the clock/calendar/weather display that comes up when the device is plugged into the station. Is there any way to configure the Droid so that the screen doesn't turn off while sitting in the multimedia station?

Good news, Rick: Android's screen timeout settings may not be easy to find, but they are easy to adjust.

[This story is from the new Android Power blog at Computerworld. Follow @AndroidPower on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Adjusting Android Screen Timeout

The simplest way to keep your Android phone lit up at home, whether it's on a dock or plugged into your PC, is to tell it to avoid turning off its display anytime it's connected to an external power source.

This option's in a slightly obscure place: From your home screen, press your phone's "Menu" key, then select "Settings," "Applications," and "Development." There, you'll see an setting called "Stay Awake." Activating that option will prevent your display from timing out anytime the phone is running on nonbattery power.

(You can also change the overall delay for Android's screen timeout -- that option is located in the "Sound and Display Settings" section of the main settings menu -- but that'll affect the phone both when it's plugged in and when it's on battery power.)

Setting Profiles Barcode

If you want to take things a step further, check out either Locale ($9.99 in the Android Market) or Setting Profiles ($3.95 in the Android Market, barcode at right; also available in a free limited-functionality trial version). These apps both give you an enormous range of options to customize how your Android phone will behave in different circumstances. With their help, you could instruct your phone to adjust its display settings only when it's connected to an actual docking station -- thus excluding instances when it's plugged in via its regular power adaptor -- or you could get even more specific and limit the behavior to certain locations or times of day. The options are practically endless.

Craving even more customization? Check out our guide to changing your Android folder icons next. And hey, if you have an Android-related question of your own, send it in to It might just make its way into a future Friday Q&A.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tantalizing technology. He's on both Twitter and Facebook; come say hello.

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