I spend the majority of my tablet time on a Samsung Galaxy, simply because it’s convenient and always close. Every once in a while, however, I have the desire to head back to my favorite tablet, the Verizon 4G Motorola Xoom. It’s heavier than the Galaxy, but it feels solid in my hands. I also recently noticed that the Xoom finally received the 4.0.4 upgrade — taking its awesome to eleven!

Many Android tips apply across the hardware spectrum, but some are specific to provider and hardware. The Xoom is no different, so I wanted to offer up a few tips for those who own the Verizon-branded 4G Motorola Xoom tablet. With that said, let’s get started.

Take screenshots

Prior to Ice Cream Sandwich, taking a screenshot required the Android Software Developer Kit. That was a hassle and most users didn’t want to bother with. The majority of Galaxy owners have a nice little screenshot button on the panel of their default homescreen. This is not so with the Xoom. Instead, in order to take screenshots, you have to use a key combination to get the job done. The combination is Volume Down + On/Off. It’s a tricky combination, and you have to make sure you hit both buttons at the same time (otherwise, you’ll just wind up turning the tablet off or turning the volume down).

Install apps that normally won’t fit on the screen

Sometimes, you’ll install an app that doesn’t fit correctly on your screen. These apps can be primarily used for smartphones or apps the developer simply didn’t optimize for the Xoom screen. If you find this to be the case for some apps you really want to use, do the following:

  1. Download and install the Spare Parts app from the Google Play Store
  2. Scroll down to Compatibility Mode
  3. Uncheck the Compatibility Mode box, then recheck it
  4. Back out of the app
  5. Go back to Spare Parts, uncheck Compatibility Mode again
  6. Reboot your Xoom

Now, you should be able to use those apps that don’t fit perfectly on your screen.

Multiple pop-ups

If you have to visit a web site that requires you to use multiple pop-ups, there’s actually a way to do this. You must use your browser in portrait mode. For some reason, the Xoom browser will only allow for one pop-up in landscape mode. But once you get through the first pop-up, you can sometimes switch to landscape mode and still have it work.

Faster home screen switching

If you live in the land of the impatient and need a faster, more efficient, way of switching home screens, I have the solution. Instead of swiping left or right, simply tap the edge of the home screen you want to switch to. In other words, if you want to move one screen to the right, tap the right edge of your home screen. The same holds true for moving left — just tap the left edge of the screen.

Hard reset

There might come a time when your Xoom becomes unresponsive. In this case, you’ll have to do a hard reset. Simply press and hold the Power and Volume Up keys at the same time. This will reboot your Xoom.

Browser always load desktop site

Not a fan of the mobile versions of web sites? Here’s how to always load the desktop version of web sites:

  1. Open the Android Honeycomb browser on your tablet
  2. In the address bar, type about:debug and press Enter
  3. Open the browser’s settings by tapping the icon in the very top-right corner of your screen
  4. Tap Settings from the drop-down menu that appears
  5. On the left side of the screen, tap the section labeled Debug
  6. On the right side of the screen, tap the item labeled UAString, and then select Desktop
  7. Press the back button (in the very bottom left-hand corner of your screen) to exit the browser’s settings

To return the browser to its default state, in the browser’s address bar, type about:debug.

Micro SD

You might not know this, but your Xoom has a slot for a Micro SD card. To gain access to this, pull out the small SIM card drawer at the top edge of the tablet. You’ll notice a second slot on top of the SIM card slot. This second slot is for the Micro SD card. Insert the card and gain extra storage.

Switch notifications

When you have the notifications pop-up visible (tap the clock in the bottom right corner), you can switch back and forth between app notifications and settings notifications (such as wireless, brightness, auto-rotate, etc) by simply tapping the time again (only this time with the notification pop-up visible).

What tricks have you learned while using your Motorola Xoom? Please share your tips in the discussion thread below.