Change the pixel density of your Android tablet by hacking the build.prop file

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Android tablets come in an almost unlimited combination of screen sizes and resolutions. As a result you will often find the number and types of app you can download varies from one device to the next.

This is particularly true of seven inch tablets, where are apps are often displayed in their phone or fable-optimised layout, designed for use in portrait mode, rather than the full tablet version.

It is possible to force an app to adopt a certain layout by changing the way the pixel density of your screen is reported. You can effectively trick apps into thinking your tablet’s screen resolution is larger or smaller, and they will choose a different layout accordingly.

To do this you will need to have rooted your tablet, and will need a file explorer capable of accessing the root directory. Built-in file explorer apps generally won’t do this, but there are many on the Play Store that can, including ES File Explorer, arguably the most powerful app of its kind (and free, too!).

Once you have got that app set up locate the build.prop file in the System folder. This file reports various details about your device’s configuration, and can change your tablet’s behaviour with a few choice tweaks.

It is absolutely essential that you create a backup of this file before you attempt to edit it, since errors in it can render your device unbootable, and you can need one you can restore should you need to. Also, it’s always good practice to make a Nandroid backup before embarking on any kind of hack too.

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In this instance, find the setting labelled ro.sf.lcd_density. Once backed up you can edit the value it is set at. Make the number higher to increase the pixel density of your tablet’s display, fitting more on screen and forcing many apps into full tablet mode.

Or set the number lower to decrease the pixel density and force apps into phone or phablet layout.

Note that this tweak is global so will affect every app you use. If you want to experiment with changing the setting on an app-by-app basis take a look at using the Xposed Framework, with the Per App Hacking module.