How To Enable & Use Gesture Navigation On The Pixel 4 & 4 XL

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One of the new, and notable features of the Pixel 4 is the gesture navigation. Though this was technically launched with Android 10 on Pixels, as even the Pixel 2 had it, it’s the default on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.

That being said, it’s not the easiest to use if you’re unfamiliar with it. It may be that you had it turned off, and want to enable it again. Or that you just want to learn how to use the navigation better.

This guide should help break down where to get to it, how to enable or disable it, and how to use it.


To get to gesture navigation on the Pixel 4, head to the settings menu

This feature should be on by default. If it isn’t, or if you had it disabled and can’t remember where to get back to it, start with the settings.

You can find the settings in the app drawer. But it’s much easier to get to it from the quick settings panel. Slide your finger down from the middle of the screen to expand this panel.

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Then, slide your finger down again to expand it all the way. The settings button will be the little gear icon in the bottom right corner.

Tap on that button and it will open the phone settings. Which is where you need to be to find the next menu that has the navigation options.

You’re looking for the System menu

The next menu you need is the system menu. This will be all the way at the bottom of the settings. So scroll all the way to the bottom to find it. It will be sitting just above the menus for about phone, and tips & support.


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Inside this menu you’ll find a few different options for the way the phone works. Languages & input are located here, as are date & time, motion sense, and various advanced options like backup, reset, system update and more.

Gestures will be towards the top, and will be the second menu option you can tap on. Select that to find the options for the phone’s different navigation types as well as other gesture features.


Inside the gestures menu look for system navigation

There are quite a few different gesture features on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. System navigation is what you’re looking for here. You can find it towards the middle. Inside that menu is where the gesture and three-button nav options are.

With the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, gesture navigation and three-button navigation are your two options. These will both vary differently from each other in a few ways.

The three-button nav is likely what most people are used to. Because it’s been the navigation system for Android for a long time.

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But, gesture nav is easy especially if you practice with it. That being said, not much practice is needed.

Really what it comes down to is just trying each gesture a few times. After you try things out you will find a comfortable way of initiating them. Tap the gesture navigation option to enable it. Or tap the three-button nav option to disable gesture nav.

Adjust the sensitivity of the gestures before exiting this menu

An important step in getting familiar with gesture navigation is the sensitivity, because this can drastically change how the action feels.


Google provides a handy way to adjust the sensitivity of the back gesture right from the same menu. Next to gesture nav you should see a little gear icon that looks the same as the settings menu icon.

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Tap that, and it will open up a pop-up panel that has the sensitivity adjustment. This is a little slider bar. You can drag it either to low or high, and there are four different levels altogether. Higher sensitivity will make it easier to initiate the gestures. However, as Google notes, it will also potentially cause issues with other gestures along the screen edge.


So use caution when selecting the highest sensitivity option. As a recommendation, it might be worth trying all the sensitivities to see which you like best.

To use the back gesture, drag from the edge inward

Using the back gesture isn’t too tough, and once you get the hang of it it’ll feel like a breeze.

You simply have to drag from the edge of the display inward a little bit. This tends to work better if you drag from the edge in the middle of the phone frame as opposed to the top or bottom areas.

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If you do this correctly you will see a little animated white arrow pop up that points left. You can drag your finger all the way to the other edge and let go, and the back gesture will still activate.

Dragging inward and then up or down however will usually prevent the gesture from working, and the arrow will disappear.

Drag up from the bottom edge slightly to open the recents menu

For the recents menu, you will need to drag up from the bottom edge of the display.

There is a little trick to this though, and you don’t just flick your finger up. This will more than likely just open the app drawer, and that’s not what you want if you’re trying to see all your open apps.

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What you want to do is drag your finger up just a little bit and then hold it there for a half a second or so. The recents menu will then open, and display all of your open apps. Simply lift your finger off the screen to have them come into view from the left edge of the screen.

Once open, you can scroll left or right to go through your open apps, and then close them out just as you did with the three-button navigation. And of course, scrolling all the way to the left will reveal the “clear all” button.

Drag inward from either bottom corner to launch Google Assistant

At last, we’ve reached the last part of the gesture navigation option. Launching Google Assistant.

With the three-button navigation, you simply tap and hold on the home button, but since those buttons are gone with the gesture method, you have to activate a different way.

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To open Assistant, just drag inward on the screen from either the left or right bottom corner. You’ll know that it works as a Google-colored light bar will appear from both corners and meet in the middle quickly, just before the Assistant panel pops up.

You also don’t have to use the gesture nav to activate Google Assistant. Since the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL still have Active Edge, you can squeeze the phone frame to open it instead. That is, if you prefer it this way.

For now, this is all that gesture navigation controls. Though more functions may pop up in the future.