Preparing My Nexus 5 For Lollipop: Settings and Configuration

I love a clean start. There’s nothing like the feel of a smartphone (or PC) after a factory reset.

I’m using my Nexus 5 for almost a year now. For a while, I’ve been wanting to do a factory reset and start clean. The upcoming Lollipop upgrade is exactly the push I needed to do it.

My game plan:

  1. Before upgrading:
    1. Perform general app cleanup, so I upgrade only with the apps I want.
    2. Document my settings and configuration (system and apps), so I can re-apply it if needed.
    3. Backup data.
  2. Upgrade.
  3. After upgrading:
    1. Restore apps, data, settings and configuration, as needed.
    2. Explore what new built-in features can replace 3rd party apps I’m using. I always prefer built-in over 3rd party.

In order to be able to restore all of my set up, layout, customization, etc., I want to document in detail my starting state. This documentation should include anything that I might need to re-apply after factory reset & upgrade. It’s OK to skip things that are restored automatically (cloud-based, etc.). If I’m not sure about something, better be safe than sorry…

The method: Go over everything, and write down and/or take screenshots of anything I want to document.

This process generated a lot of data. Some of it includes sensitive stuff that I don’t want to document publicly (like account names on various services). All of it is highly personalized, and is probably of little interest to most readers. So instead of writing a post with 425 screenshots (really!) (and pixelating out many of them), I decided to just keep a few highlights, and describe the method. Feel free to ask for more details if you’re interested in something specific.

Phone settings

Method: Go over all screens and items in the system settings, writing down or taking screenshots of all the options and values.


  • “Owner info” message content.
  • Apps with “Device admin” access (for me: Android Device Manager & Secure Settings).
  • Apps with “Notification access” (for me: only Pushbullet).
  • Sync’ed accounts.
  • Developer options I’ve changed (like “Stay awake while charging”).

Total of 66 screenshots for this category.

Home screens layout and widgets

I use a pretty simple 2 home screens layout, with shortcuts for my most-used apps, a few 1×1 widgets, and lots of space.

Notes on the Tasker tasks shortcuts:

  • Headset Plugged: A task that launches automatically when I plug in earphones (duh). It opens a small dialog with icons of Poweramp and BeyondPod, automatically starting playback in the selected app. I keep a home screen shortcut in addition to the automated event because I use often it to start playback without plugging in earphones.
  • Sec0 / Sec1: One-click enable/disable PIN-code lock screen.
  • Toggle Hotspot: One-click enable/disable WiFi Hotspot.

Lock screen layout and widgets


  • Take screenshots of lock screens.
  • Document configuration of DashClock lock screen widget.


Total of 20 screenshots for this category.

Apps that should be reconfigured ASAP

There are a handful of apps and web services that I use on a daily basis. These are the things I really need to reconfigure as soon as I complete the system update. It might be useful to have this shortlist of most-important things to take care of, assuming I’m not going to go through everything in a single session.

This is just a checklist. Further details on the configuration for each item follow.

  • Google accounts on the device (also takes care of Gmail, Inbox, Keep, Contacts, Calendar, Hangouts IM, Drive, Maps, Google+ & Photos, YouTube)
  • Authy
  • Chrome sign in
  • Call Logs Backup & Restore
  • SMS Backup & Restore
  • FolderSync
  • Evernote
  • Feedly
  • Pocket
  • BeyondPod
  • Poweramp
  • Pushbullet
  • Dropbox (especially camera upload)
  • Buffer
  • WhatsApp
  • Hangouts (SMS)
  • Yatse XMBC Remote
  • OurGroceries
  • Tasker tasks and profiles
  • Endomondo
  • Facebook (web) & Facebook Page Manager
  • Bitbucket (web)
  • Play Music

Apps that just require signing in

Method: List the apps. Keep another version of this list that includes also the account name.

  • Google Admin
  • AWS Console
  • Baby Connect
  • Box
  • Buffer
  • Chrome (except for open tabs)
  • Android Device Manager (not quite “signing in” – just check that I can access the device from the web console)
  • Droidicious
  • MightyText
  • OurGroceries (sync’ed Oogi lists)
  • Facebook Page Manager
  • Play Music
  • StackExchange
  • Trello
  • WordPress (for this self-hosted site)
  • 10bis

That’s apps. I also need to log in to web-based services that I use from the browser:

  • Facebook
  • GitHub
  • LinkedIn
  • Toggl

DayJob-related web services:

  • Bitbucket
  • Confluence
  • Jira

Apps that I need to configure

Method: List the apps, along with the manual configuration details (or screenshots).

The list, with selected highlights:

  • Audible
  • Authy
    • Enable PIN Protection
    • Verify that external accounts are backed up to encrypted cloud backup (password in LastPass)
  • BeyondPod Pro
    • Backup settings and subscriptions
  • Calendar (which calendars are sync’ed and which are displayed)
  • Call Logs Backup & Restore (schedule & location)
  • Dropbox
  • Endomondo
  • Evernote
  • Feedly
    • Subscriptions and read status should all be cloud-sync’ed
    • Document all my reading preferences, like dark theme, start at “Must Reads”, default view is “List”, save with Pocket, etc.
  • Gmail
  • Google+
  • Hangouts
  • Inbox
  • Lookout (signal flare, no backup)
  • Pocket
    • Articles library sync’ed with cloud
    • Document my reading preferences, like dark theme, etc.
  • Poweramp Pro
    • Export settings
  • Pushbullet (SMS sync, universal copy & paste, etc.)
  • Silence Premium (followed calendars, emergency settings, whitelist, etc.)
  • Skype
  • SMS Backup & Restore (schedule & location)
  • Tasker / Secure Settings
    • Give Secure Settings admin access
    • Backup all data (Profiles, Tasks, Scenes) (in /storage/emulated/0/Tasker/userbackup.xml)
  • Twilight
  • VMware Watchlist
  • Waze
  • WhatsApp
    • Backup conversations (in /storage/sdcard0/WhatsApp, including media, wallpapers, etc.)
  • Yatse XBMC Remote
    • Export settings to sdcard (at /storage/emulated/0/Yatse.settings)


That concludes my approach for “backing up” personalized settings and configurations before resetting my Nexus 5.

I created detailed documentation (mostly based on screenshots) of everything I may need to start fresh with Lollipop. This included system settings, home screens, lock screen widgets, and app-specific configurations. Knowing that I will not be able to do the entire restore process in a single session, I also created a top-priority list of things that need to happen immediately after the upgrade.

Given the amount and nature of the data I collected in this process, this post included only description of the method and highlights. The full thing is saved in my Evernote account (for future me: “Nexus 5 KitKat: Uncensored config docs”). The screenshots are in that note, and also in my Dropbox account (for future me: under /Projects/LollipopUpgrade).

Stay tuned for the next Lollipop upgrade project posts!

  • MaximS
    November 21, 2014

    Don’t you afraid of the battery drain that described with lollipop and nexus 5?

    • Itamar Ostricher
      November 21, 2014

      AFAIK, the battery drain issue is less of an issue when flashing an image over a factory-reset device (see here).

      I do feel slightly increased battery drain on average so far, but not significant enough to complain about 🙂

      I am still able to pull an entire day of not-too-heavy use without charging (say 7am through 10pm).

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