Being able to use a mobile phone or tablet can help you a lot. You might be on someone else’s device or your own. Either way, this lesson will help you learn how to set it up and adapt it to your needs.

Do you or someone you know need help with setting up a device for the first time? Why not call our free Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333. It’s open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. The Helpline gives free one-to-one support. You can use this service if you live in the UK or Channel Islands and you’re over 18 (or supervised by a parent or guardian if under 18). Not sure whether you need our Academy Digital Helpline? Use Chapter 1 to test what you know.


  • Check you know the basics
  • How to set up your device
  • How to adapt your device to your needs

Read time:

10 mins

Chapter 1

Check the basics

Read time:

1 min

Are you or the person you are trying to help able to:

  • Turn on a device?
  • Use the controls?
  • Understand how to charge the device?
  • Lock and unlock the device?
  • Use gestures to operate your touchscreen?


How did you do? 

If you've answered no

You may need some help before starting Chapter 2. Our Digital Helpline is free to use, and we’ll help you get started. You can call our Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333.

If you answered yes

then you can go straight on to chapter 2.

Chapter 2

How to adapt your device to your needs

Read time:

9 mins

Getting started

If you’re reading this, you’ve made a good start. Now let’s see how to make your device even better for you. By changing some settings, you can adapt it to meet your own needs. So it’s easier to use, see, hear and experience.

First, let's look at what you can change on your device. They’re all different, so we won’t be able to tell you exactly where to find these features on your device. But we can give you some general tips to find tools. You can then test whether they make using your device easier.  


Need more help?

  • Check your device's instructions
  • Ask a friend or family member
  • Call our Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333
  • Go to AbilityNet


Finding your settings application

The first thing you need to do is find your settings. On most touchscreen devices, like a mobile or tablet, you can find your settings in a few ways. The first is as an application or ‘app’ on your home screen. The home screen is the first screen you see when you turn on your device. Look for an icon that looks like a small cog or gear. It will also usually have the name 'Settings'.


The ‘settings’ symbol can often look like a small cog or gear

Other ways to find your settings

There are two other ways you may be able to find your settings:

From your home screen, find your menu. You can do this by tapping on a menu button or using your finger to swipe on your screen. On most mobiles, you’ll need to swipe up. Once you’re in this menu, you can scroll the apps by swiping up. You could use the search bar instead, to look for ‘Settings’.

Another way to find your settings is to swipe down at the very top of your screen. This will bring up a small window where the cog or gear icon may be one of the options.

Now you’re in your settings, you can start to change your phone to suit your needs.


Ways to personalise your device:

  1. Display and brightness – You can make it easier to read what’s on your screen and find your way around it
  2. Accessibility features – These might help if you have an impairment or disability and can’t access a device without help
  3. Privacy settings – Helping you manage your personal information and stay safe


Select the headings below to find out more

  • Most mobile phones and tablets will have a display option in the settings. Here you can change some things to make your screen easier to read. You can:

    Adjust the brightness of your screen

    Do you find it hard to look at your screen for a long time, or to see the text on it? If so, you can make your screen darker or brighter to suit you. You can also use ‘automatic mode’. This works out how bright it is where you are, and automatically changes your display to match. So if you’re in a dark place, your device will lower the brightness to protect your eyes. If you’re in a light place, your screen will be brighter and easier to see.

    Pick light or dark mode

    Some devices will have a light and dark mode. This means you can change between white writing on a dark background, or dark writing on a white background – whichever you prefer

    Adjust eye comfort settings

    All devices use 'blue light'. This makes your screen easier to see, but it may also strain your eyes. If you struggle to sleep at night, it might be because you're looking at your screen too close to bedtime. The blue light convinces your brain it's still the middle of the day. Most devices now have a filter setting, to switch this on and off. You can also set 'night mode' to come on in the hours before you go to bed.

    Change the text on your screen

    You might find the text on your screen is too small to read. Maybe you're out and about and don't have your reading glasses. In your display settings, you can make text bigger or bolder and easier to read.

    Adjust the display size

    This affects how large things appear on your screen so you can see them better.

    Pick a colour mode

    Some devices let you change the colours on your screen to make them more or less vivid. This can help if you're finding colours too intense or struggling to see them.

  • Most devices have an 'Accessibility' section in their settings. These help to make your device meet your needs. There's no right or wrong way to use these settings. All devices are different, too. The best way to make the most of yours is to explore the different options and find out how they can help you.

    TalkBack and Text-to-speech

    This can help anyone who's blind, partially sighted or just finds it hard to see the screen. 'TalkBack' reads your screen content and features aloud, so you can use the device without looking at it. Perhaps you don't need this feedback, but you'd rather listen to than read text. Text-to-speech or Select to Speak options can help with this.

    Visual aids

    Just like your display settings, you can change how things appear on your screen to make them easier to see. You can make text larger, images bigger or change how text appears.

    Audio aids

    These help you change how you hear sounds on your device. For instance, you might struggle to hear in one ear. You can choose to hear sounds in only one headphone by changing your audio to 'mono'. This way, you don't miss any sounds. If you prefer or need to read because you can't access audio, you can also turn on captions.

    Using the device

    Most devices can work with switches. Switch access can help if you find it hard to operate the controls and touchscreen on your device. Other ways to help you use your device include changing what the buttons do or adjusting the touch sensitivity of your screen. You can also set shortcuts and gestures. For example, say you find it hard to use touchscreen to answer calls. You may be able to change your device to answer calls when you lift your phone to your ear, or press one of the bigger buttons.

    Voice control is another useful tool to help you control your device if you find it hard to do it by touch. Like speech-to-text or dictation settings, you can say what you want to write instead of typing.

  • You'll find these in your settings menu. Adjust your privacy and security settings to keep your personal information and device safe and secure. You can control what information your apps have access to by giving or taking 'permissions' from them.

    Keeping your software up to date is important. It makes sure your device is using the latest version of the software. Your provider will always be looking for new ways to improve your experience. This includes sending you updates to improve your security, or sending you updates to fix any security issues they find. These are all forms of software. It's what makes your device work. Most devices let you know if you need to download an update, but it's good to check it's always up to date.

    Another way to keep your device safe is by setting up a lock for it. In your settings, you can set a password or code for your device. This will let you lock your device, open it and keep others out.

    Most devices will also let you set up 'biometrics'. These are ways of locking your device that are unique to you and no one can copy. For example, your fingerprint, your voice or the shape of you face. If you lose your device, it adds an extra layer of safety on top of your password or code.

    Finally, lots of devices have a 'Find my phone or device' setting. Once you set this up, you can use it to track the location of your device. So if it's lost or stolen, you can track it down more easily.

Activity – explore your settings

Take 10 minutes to look through your settings and then answer these two questions. What will be helpful for you in future? Is there anything you want to change to make your device better for you?

If you’re still unsure about any of the settings, remember you can:

  1. Check your device’s instructions
  2. Speak to the shop or seller you bought your device from
  3. Speak to a trustworthy friend or family member 
  4. Call our Academy Digital Helpline on 0345 222 0333
  5. Go to AbilityNet where you can get help for your specific needs, set up and device.


Lesson complete!

Well done on completing this lesson. You should now know the basics of using your device, and understand how to change its settings to your needs. We suggest you continue your learning with our next lesson: ‘Connecting to the internet’. It will help you connect your device to broadband internet or mobile data so you can get online.

If you have a laptop or desktop you’d like to personalise, you can go to our lesson ‘Using your laptop/desktop’. 


Up next for you:

Next lesson: Connecting to the internet

Back to ‘Getting started online


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 8th November 2023.