How to add reading mode to your Android devices (and why you should)


woman reading

Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Like most humans, I often need to read content on a mobile device. However, there are times when content isn’t always easy to view on my Android device. It might be because of print that is too small or poorly formatted or ads and other distractions prevent the content from rendering properly. Reading mode is a great way around this, as it strips away the extraneous bits to make pages far more readable.

Sadly, Android doesn’t yet have the built-in functionality to automatically switch to a reading mode. However, thanks to a handy app in the Google Play Store, you can add reading mode to your Android device.

Also: How to find out which apps are draining your Android battery

Let me show you how to install and use the Reading Mode app.

How to install the Reading mode app

What you’ll need: The only thing you’ll need to make this work is an Android device running Android 9 or newer.

Open the Google Play Store on your device and search for Reading mode. Locate the official app by Google and tap Install. 

Also: How to clear your Google search cache on Android

Allow the installation to complete and you can then close the Play Store.

The Reading mode app entry in the Google Play Store.

Installing Reading mode from the Google Play Store.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You now have to enable Reading mode. To do that, open the Settings app from either your Notification Shade or App Drawer and go to Accessibility. Locate and tap Reading mode. On the resulting page, tap the ON/OFF slider until it’s in the ON position. When prompted, tap Allow so Reading mode has full access to your device.

The Reading mode enable toggle.

Enabling Reading mode on Android 13.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy device, after enabling Reading Mode, you’ll be directed to Settings > Accessibility > Installed Apps > Reading Mode where you can select from different methods of accessing the features (Tap Accessibility Button, Press and hold Volume Up and down keys for 3 seconds, and Press Side and Volume up Keys). This feature isn’t found on the Pixel devices and you only have one option for accessing reading mode (the Accessibility Button).

The Reading Mode Settings on a Samsung Galaxy phone.

On a Samsung Galaxy device, you have more options for accessing Reading Mode.

Alyson Windsor/ZDNET

How to use Reading mode

Once enabled on Pixel, you should see a small button near the bottom right edge of your display. You can tap and drag that bubble to any point on the screen edge.

The Reading mode bubble on the Android home screen.

You can move the Reading mode Toggle anywhere on the edge of your display.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

To use Reading mode, open Chrome and go to any website or page you want to view. Once on the page, tap the Reading mode bubble, or use whatever option you enabled on your non-Pixel device, to enable reading mode for the page. 

Also: How to enable Notification History on your Android

The content will automatically reformat so it’s exponentially more readable on your device. 

A comparison of the same content in standard and Reading mode.

Reading mode is on the left.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You can also tap the play button (bottom center) to have your device read the content to you out loud, tap the cog (bottom left) to adjust the display settings, or tap the font (bottom right) to change the font size.

Also: The best Android phones right now 

Although Reading mode doesn’t support every app (oddly it doesn’t support Gmail), the apps it does work with can be a real blessing to those who have trouble reading content on small devices. Give this app a try and see if it doesn’t make your mobile life a bit better.


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