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How to Force Landscape Tablet UI on the Nexus 7 Tablet

Many noticed that when the first pictures of the Nexus 7 popped up, Google implemented portrait mode through most of the tablet and we think it looks just fine on the 7″, but others may not. After following these instructions, you will basically be running a 10.1″ UI on the 7″ display. We know there are not many of you that have the tablet yet, but if you get the feeling that you will need some landscape goodness when it arrives, this is how to do it.

Directions for Tablet UI on Nexus 7:

1. Get a file explorer such as root explorer or es file manager(go to settings allow mount rewritable and root access)
2.Then go to system(es file manager just go to the star button on the top left hand side and click on the phone button and you will see the system folder)
3.You will find a build.prop file make sure to make a copy of it and save it somewhere just in case for a backup.
4.Then click on the build.prop and open it with a text editor. (ES file manager has its own)
5. Now scroll down to “ro.sf.lcd_density”, or something with lcd density(sorry im at work so i dont have my n7 with me)
6. Now the original lcd density is 213 so the best result for tablet mode is going 170 and below.
7. Save the file by press the menu button.
8. Reboot your N7 and then you got Tablet UI.

For all of you who pre-ordered this awesome device, don’t worry, the wait is worth it.

Via: Pocket Now | XDA

  • Johnny

    How to force auto rotation even on desktop on samsung galaxy tab 2 running AOKP rom

  • I love it this way!

  • JLam

    why can’t you just use the rotation locker app? it stays in the notification bar and you can force landscape when you need it to 😉

  • Nerdrow

    The play store issue is the only real drawback, some apps appear incompatible and you lose the movies & books sections altogether, but if you have a rooted phone and Google Drive its not the end of the world. I set density to 177 (high as you can go to force tablet layout) and used an app called BigFont to set the base systemwide font-size to 110%, its just about perfect size for this screen IMO. I just prefer the tablet layout for apps where its significantly different (YouTube for example). Apex is still better than the stock launcher on Jelly Bean if the auto-rotate is an issue for you.

  • jeesung

    didn’t realize the dead space (sides in landscape (like to the left of the widgets in the picture) and bottom in portrait).

    you’ll need another launcher to make the most of the home screens with this mod

  • Fomdoo

    How is it that you were able to enable root access for ES file manager? As far as I know the tablet doesn’t come rooted.

  • Mike

    it’s right next to the settings icon. you will not find it in settings

  • Mike

    you don’t have to do anything. When you pull down on the top drawer tab there is an icon that you can touch to unlock the orientation. that is it. some people should not mess with things they don’t know about..

  • I think the way you wrote the article is confusing people. The reason people wanted the density change to tablet ui doesn’t have anything to do with using the tablet in landscape, the reason was because the phone ui uses a bottom nav bar and top status bar which wastes a lot of screen space, the tablet ui uses only the bottom system bar for everything and places all the controls on the bottom of the screen, which allows for more screen real estate for apps.

  • EC8CH

    I’m preordered…. can’t wait!

  • ddevito

    I generally applaud hacks and tweaks, but a 7″ tablet form factor doesn’t need a landscape orientation.

    • Raven

      I disagree. I run my 7″ Acer A100 in landscape 99% of the time and after spending yesterday playing with my new Nexus 7 I am already annoyed by the enforced portrait mode.

  • ChaCha

    I’m not sure if I understand this post correctly, are you saying that the Nexus 7 always stays in portrait even if you roll it over to landscape?

    • thatis correct. Nexus 7 home screen doesnt rotate into a landscape mode when turned into landscape format. The tablet just stays in its default state. Apps though can be rotated just fine.

      • ChaCha

        Thanks for the clarification.

  • D4niel

    You will run into some side effects by going this. There are reasons the UI is how it is on that device. Some comments from one of Android’s UI developers, Dianne Hackborn:

    ‘Some people have commented that the UI on the Nexus 7 isn’t a scaled down version of the 10″ UI. This is somewhat true. It is also not just the phone UI shown on a larger display. Various parts of the system and applications will use one or the other UI (or even a mix) depending on what works best. For example parts of the system UI (status bar and navigation bar, settings) use the phone layout since they too compact in 600dp of width. Other apps use the tablet UI or even a mix — for example Gmail uses the tablet UI in the conversation list, but the message screen is either a single pane like a phone or dual-pane like a tablet depending on whether the screen is currently portrait or landscape.’

    Source: https://plus.google.com/105051985738280261832/posts/6eWwQvFGLV8

    This means that by changing the screen density, you’re going to be forcing apps (and the system) to use UI’s that simply weren’t designed to be used on this screen. Don’t blame the apps if their UI’s seem too cramped after making this change.

    Regarding the specific point raised in this post, here’s what one commenter had to say to Dianne:

    “I feel the bottom-drawer UI on 10.1″ tablets is far superior usability-wise on a tablet. I wish the N7 had it, to be honest.

    Dianne… thought bubble for making your job harder in the future: Give us a choice? :P”

    And Dianne’s response:

    “+Sushubh Mittal and +Jake Weisz did either of you read the post? 🙂 The Nexus 7 UI is a mix of phone and tablet UIs, based on what fits in the available space. The system bar design for a 10″ screen just doesn’t fit well on a 7″ screen when in portrait. This wouldn’t make sense to turn into a choice.”

    • My 2 cents

      to paraphrase Dianne’s last response: “We don’t like it that way, so you shouldn’t either.” My response is: Why not make this a choice? If users don’t like it, they’ll pick your way. Having just bought an N7 after using a 10 inch tablet for over a year, I guarantee you that I want the tablet UI regardless of what Dianne thinks up in her ivory tower.

  • msnight04

    Does this make the display look worse? I would love the standard tablet UI once I get my N7 (Mass Effect reference, haha) but do not want lower quality and I’ll be doing a lot of reading on it.

    • PC_Tool

      Best bet might be to wait for a CM9 or AOKP build for the N7. I am sure they will have tablet mode enabled by default. (Or make it stupid-easy to switch between the two modes)

      • JoshGroff

        It won’t be CM9, it will probably be CM10 at that point since the android version is changing. I.E. CM6-7 (FroYo-GB.) Was there a CM8 for honeycomb?

        • No official release of Honeycomb, so no CM builds. They build from AOSP.

        • PC_Tool

          Yep. I think I’ll just use “CM” from now on to avoid confusion….

  • Bionic

    Hey google, why dont you hurry up and ship the damn things! Its been a week, thats enough time.

    • JosephMoreno

      Hey Bionic, don’t ya think they just may not be ready yet! It’ll be two weeks, when the other devices get JB OTA’s rolled out, when they’ll most likely start shipping.

      • Bionic

        yeah yeah i know, but i want my damn tablet

        • Its my Nexus and I want it now!

          • Call Sergei Brin, 877-Nexus-Now!

          • fixxmyhead


      • HTC1

        He just wants it. I understand completely. He can rant if he wants!!!!!!!! Not all of us have patience like you must have. I want my stuff NOW also.

  • Bionic

    This is good to know. But as long as you can view web browsing and movies and stuff in landscape mode im fine. But this is good to know just in case!

  • I thought that messing with the LCD Density like that would mess up the app compatibility on the play store? Maybe it is with a non-standard density value…

  • It’s just the stock JB launcher that doesn’t do landscape. The OS can handle landscape just fine, it’s up to the apps to support it. Someone should try a third-party launcher; I know Apex Launcher supports landscape mode (they call it “horizontal”).

    • Jamal Stephenson

      Nova Launcher works well in landscape mode for JellyBean. Tested it on my Galaxy Nexus running the 4.1 ROM from XDA

    • Mack

      It has nothing to do with the launcher, as you can see in the screenshot the JB launcher is displaying just fine in landscape. It’s about the size of the tablet and as stated above the LCD density. Read the article, basically a larger tablet (10.1″) will still use the landscape layout seen on ICS devices like the transformer prime/pad/infinity.

  • very cool…will save this and hopefully try it out in a couple weeks!

  • paladaxar

    I wonder if this would work on the GNex (or any phone for that matter) just to play around 🙂

    • PC_Tool

      Yep. But there are better instructions for doing it on the G’Nex (even ROMs for it that make it so stuff doesn’t “break”.)

      Check out Paranoid Android or any of the “tablet mode” topics on XDA or Rootzwiki for the G’Nex.

      • AOKP rom has this functionality built in. you can change it on the fly.

        • PC_Tool

          …and it carries the same warnings (They even pop up for you when you go into that menu). Prior to JB I was a hardcore AOKP fanatic.

          You still get to mess with Store issues and what-not. Best bet is still to use a tablet-mode or “hybrid” rom, built for it.

          (Though I am *certain* there will be an AOKP ROM for the N7 pretty quick after source drops that will render all of these issues moot.)

  • SirSoloDolo

    If only I had a Nexus 7 that Droid-Life gave away for free in a contest

    *wink wink

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Think I may stick with the phone UI to be honest. WIsh i did landscape though

    • MikeCiggy

      I’m sure a launcher like Nova will allow landscape on the N7 Phablet UI

  • Jack Coleman

    good stuff.

  • I guess that picture is from ICS tablet UI?

    • That’s the Nexus 7 running the modification.

    • kevinc

      no it’s from jelly bean

    • Levi Wilcox

      You can tell because of the jellybean usb debugging icon.

  • RedPandaAlex

    Very nice. I was hoping there was a way to do this without going full custom rom.