In the high-tech world of smart phones and tablets, physical space on a screen constitutes as highly sought-after digital real estate.  In this world - the smaller, the further compact, and the more succinct a function or app can be, the better.  Navigating this landscape of pictures-instead-of-words can sometimes be tricky, frustrating, and confusing.  Here is a helpful quick-guide to some of the most common of these symbols:


Home - An outline of a house which always brings you [back] to the original default "Home" screen on a phone or tablet - similar to the default desktop screen on a home desktop or laptop.


Missed Call - Represented by a V-shaped arrow bouncing off the back of a down-turned classic landline phone receiver.



Back Arrow - Allows you to go back to the previous screen or window on any app or phone web browser and/or exit out of an app quickly if you are only on the first screen of it.

Menu Symbol - Often characterized by 3 parallel horizontal lines and allows you to choose a varied mixture of menu options, display options, and settings that change according to the specific app or screen you are using.  This function is similar to right-clicking on a desktop or laptop computer.


Magnifying Glass - Brings up the search function within a screen, app, or internet browser.


Wi-Fi - Indicates whether wireless is on or off.  Also, the number of lines that are bold or highlighted is related to how strong the wireless signal is.



Bluetooth - Shows when the Bluetooth connectivity function is turned on.  Bluetooth allows you to wirelessly connect to a host of other devices.



Settings - Often shown as a gear or cogwheel, this symbol brings you directly to the phone or tablet settings options.

Battery - Displays the current state and amount of 'life' left of the battery.  Will often be green or mostly green when the battery is [mostly] full and show as yellow and red when the battery is close to dying. It will also have a lightning bolt on it when it's plugged in and charging.

Voicemail - (Amusingly) a picture of a cassette which hearkens back to physical answering machines that recorded directly to cassettes.  This indicates that you have one or more unheard voicemails waiting.


Message Bubble - Used to alert you about a new chat [app] message.



Text - A picture of a tiny envelope that lets you know about a new incoming text(s).

Dotted Grid - Enables you to show and hide a phone number dial pad.



Microphone - Used for speech-to-text, voice commands, turning on an app, or recording audio.



Pin - Reveals the exact or estimated location of a device, home, business, or general physical place on a map and/or in relation to other pins.


Airplane - Signals that 'Airplane Mode' is turned on.  Airplane mode is a manual setting that allows you to turn off all mobile and wireless connectivity while still allowing you to use apps that do not require internet or a mobile network to utilize such as gaming and e-reading apps.

GPS - Alerts you that a GPS app is currently on and running.  This can be good to know in situations where the app is on by accident or oversight because GPS could drain the battery faster or be using mobile data.

AuthorChris Lawn