Unless you missed the introduction of gestures a few Android releases ago, you are probably aware that modern Android devices offer various navigation methods. And, as time passes, more OEMs gravitate towards swipe gestures, leaving the good old buttons behind. However, some users still rely on buttons and some of them report that the back button is missing or not working on Android.
Now, of course, as we made sure to point out, maybe you just need to navigate to Settings and disable gestures (or select Buttons) to get back the Back button. If you are sure that Buttons are enabled but the Back button is missing or not working, check the steps we listed below.
Table of contents:
- Restart your device
- Switch to gestures and then back to buttons
- Boot into Safe mode
- Wipe cache partition
- Reset your device to factory settings
How can I restore my back button on Android?
1. Restart your device
You should start with a simple restart. This usually addresses weird system glitches like this one. After your device reboots and you unlock it from the Lock Screen, the back button should appear and function as intended.
Also, navigate to Settings > System > Gestures and make sure that Buttons are enabled under Navigation. The exact path might differ on different Android skins but the idea is that you somehow switched to gestures over the on-screen buttons. Or the device uses gestures from the get-go and you need to change the preferred navigation method.
On the other hand, if the issue persists, make sure to continue to the next step. Although, have in mind that these solutions mostly apply to stock ROMs. If you played with ADB or installed untested ROM on your device, make sure to contact the developer and report the problem.
2. Switch to gestures and then back to buttons
The majority of devices these days come with gestures and that’s our next troubleshooting step. You can try switching to navigation gestures and then back to buttons. It might be a temporary glitch and, by cycling between two options, you should fix it.
To change gestures, open Settings, and type Navigation in the search bar. Open Navigation or Gestures from the results and you should see two options (on some Android skins there are 3 options).
Choose Navigation gestures, wait until the setting is applied, and then switch back to Buttons.
3. Boot into Safe mode
The back button won’t disappear on its own and if it does, some apps might’ve caused it. So, try to boot into Safe mode and see if the back button appears.
Here’s how to boot into Safe mode on Android:
- Press and hold the Power button until the Power menu appears.
- Tap and hold on to the Power off icon until the pop-up appears. It should inform you about safe mode and offer options to enter the Safe mode or cancel the action.
- Tap OK to boot into the Safe mode.
- Once the device boots into Safe mode on Android, you’ll see the Safe mode strip at the bottom of your screen.
If the Back button appears, make sure to uninstall all apps that have anything to do with gestures. This includes custom launchers, custom navigation apps, or apps that have a permanent overlay on Home Screen.
On the other hand, if the Back button is still not working on your Android, try wiping the cache partition.
4. Wipe the cache partition
Another advanced troubleshooting step that’s applicable in this scenario. If you experience some major system bugs like this, you should wipe the cache partition. Just like every app, the system also stores cache locally. And, once that cache piles up, it can lead to some UI-breaking issues. Wiping the cache partition won’t delete any of your data, so don’t worry about that.
You can’t wipe the cache partition from the system so you’ll need to access the Recovery menu. Here’s how to wipe the cache partition on Android:
- Power off your device.
- Press and hold the Power button + Volume Up until the welcome screen appears. Let go of the Power button and keep holding the Volume Up button.
- Once you get into Recovery mode, use the Volume buttons to get to the Wipe Cache Partition option. Press the Power button to confirm the selection.
- Reboot the phone back to the system.
If the back button is still not working on your Android, we can only recommend resetting your device to factory settings.
5. Reset your device to factory settings
Factory reset will clear all your data and we are aware that it can be cumbersome. However, if you back up everything, you can restore the system rather fast. The most annoying thing is signing in with all your accounts on many apps you have and it will take some time.
But why would you go for the factory reset? It’s the best way to solve major system issues and it’s even advised after every major system upgrade. You can learn more about factory resetting and how to back up your data safely in our dedicated article.
If you can’t be bothered with details, follow the steps below to reset your Android to factory settings:
- Open Settings.
- Choose System or General Management.
- Select Reset options (Reset).
- Tap Erase all (factory data reset).
- Tap Erase all or Reset.
- Confirm when prompted.
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for reading and feel free to share your alternative solutions, questions, or suggestions with us in the comments section. We look forward to hearing from you.
Editor’s note: This article was initially published in November 2021. We made sure to revamp it for freshness and accuracy.
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