Handle configuration changes

Some device configurations can change while the app is running. These include, but aren't limited to:

  • App display size
  • Screen orientation
  • Font size and weight
  • Locale
  • Dark mode versus light mode
  • Keyboard availability

Most of these configuration changes occur due to some user interaction. For example, rotating or folding the device changes the amount of screen space available to your app. Likewise, altering device settings like the font size, language, or preferred theme changes their respective values in the Configuration object.

These parameters usually require large enough changes to your application's UI that the Android platform has a purpose-built mechanism for when they change. This mechanism is Activity recreation.

Activity recreation

The system recreates an Activity when a configuration change occurs. To do this, the system calls onDestroy() and destroys the existing Activity instance. It then creates a new instance using onCreate(), and this new Activity instance is initialized with the new, updated configuration. This also means that the system also recreates the UI with the new configuration.

The recreation behavior helps your application adapt to new configurations by automatically reloading your application with alternative resources that match the new device configuration.

Recreation example

Consider a TextView that displays a static title using android:text="@string/title", as defined in a layout XML file. When the view is created, it sets the text exactly once, based on the current language. If the language changes, the system recreates the activity. Consequently, the system also recreates the view and initializes it to the correct value based on the new language.

The recreation also clears out any state kept as fields in the Activity or in any of its contained Fragment, View, or other objects. This is because Activity recreation creates a completely new instance of the Activity and the UI. Furthermore, the old Activity is no longer visible or valid, so any remaining references to it or its contained objects are stale. They can cause bugs, memory leaks, and crashes.

User expectations

The user of an app expects state to be preserved. If a user is filling out a form and opens another app in multi-window mode to reference information, it is a bad user experience if they return to a cleared form or to somewhere else in the app entirely. As a developer, you must provide a consistent user experience through configuration changes and activity recreation.

To verify whether state is preserved in your application, you can perform actions that cause configuration changes both while the app is in the foreground and while it is in the background. These actions include:

  • Rotating the device
  • Entering multi-window mode
  • Resizing the application while in multi-window mode or a free-form window
  • Folding a foldable device with multiple displays
  • Changing the system theme, such as dark mode versus light mode
  • Changing the font size
  • Changing the system or app language
  • Connecting or disconnecting a hardware keyboard
  • Connecting or disconnecting a dock

There are three primary approaches you can take to preserve relevant state through Activity recreation. Which to use depends on the type of state you want to preserve:

  • Local persistence to handle process death for complex or large data. Persistent local storage includes databases or DataStore.
  • Retained objects such as ViewModel instances to handle UI-related state in memory while the user is actively using the app.
  • Saved instance state to handle system-initiated process death and keep transient state that depends on user input or navigation.

To read about the APIs for each of these in detail, and when using each is appropriate, see Save UI states.

Restrict activity recreation

You can prevent automatic activity recreation for certain configuration changes. Activity recreation results in recreating the entire UI, and any objects derived from the Activity. You might have good reasons to avoid this. For example, your app might not need to update resources during a specific configuration change, or you might have a performance limitation. In that case, you can declare that your activity handles the configuration change itself and prevent the system from restarting your activity.

To disable activity recreation for particular configuration changes, add the configuration type to android:configChanges in the <activity> entry in your AndroidManifest.xml file. Possible values appear in the documentation for the android:configChanges attribute.

The following manifest code disables Activity recreation for MyActivity when the screen orientation and keyboard availability change:


Some configuration changes always cause the activity to restart. You can't disable them. For example, you can't disable the dynamic colors change introduced in Android 12L (API level 32).

React to configuration changes in the View system

In the View system, when a configuration change occurs for which you have disabled Activity recreation, the activity receives a call to Activity.onConfigurationChanged(). Any attached views also receive a call to View.onConfigurationChanged(). For configuration changes you have not added to android:configChanges, the system recreates the activity as usual.

The onConfigurationChanged() callback method receives a Configuration object that specifies the new device configuration. Read the fields in the Configuration object to determine what your new configuration is. To make the subsequent changes, update the resources you use in your interface. When the system calls this method, your activity's Resources object is updated to return resources based on the new configuration. This lets you reset elements of your UI without the system restarting your activity.

For example, the following onConfigurationChanged() implementation checks whether a keyboard is available:


override fun onConfigurationChanged(newConfig: Configuration) {

    // Checks whether a keyboard is available
    if (newConfig.keyboardHidden === Configuration.KEYBOARDHIDDEN_YES) {
        Toast.makeText(this, "Keyboard available", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show()
    } else if (newConfig.keyboardHidden === Configuration.KEYBOARDHIDDEN_NO) {
        Toast.makeText(this, "No keyboard", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show()


public void onConfigurationChanged(Configuration newConfig) {

    // Checks whether a keyboard is available
    if (newConfig.keyboardHidden == Configuration.KEYBOARDHIDDEN_YES) {
        Toast.makeText(this, "Keyboard available", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();
    } else if (newConfig.keyboardHidden == Configuration.KEYBOARDHIDDEN_NO){
        Toast.makeText(this, "No keyboard", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();

If you don't need to update your application based on these configuration changes, you can instead not implement onConfigurationChanged(). In that case, all the resources used before the configuration change are still used, and you only avoided the restart of your activity. For example, a TV app might not want to react when a Bluetooth keyboard is attached or detached.

Retain state

When you use this technique, you must still retain state during the normal activity lifecycle. This is because of the following:

  • Unavoidable changes: configuration changes that you cannot prevent can restart your application.
  • Process death: your application must be able to handle system-initiated process death. If the user leaves your application and the app goes to the background, the system might destroy the app.

React to configuration changes in Jetpack Compose

Jetpack Compose lets your app more easily react to configuration changes. However, if you disable Activity recreation for all configuration changes where it is possible to do so, your app still must correctly handle configuration changes.

The Configuration object is available in the Compose UI hierarchy with the LocalConfiguration composition local. Whenever it changes, composable functions reading from LocalConfiguration.current recompose. For information about how composition locals work, see Locally scoped data with CompositionLocal.


In the following example, a composable displays a date with a specific format. The composable reacts to system locale configuration changes by calling ConfigurationCompat.getLocales() with LocalConfiguration.current.

fun DateText(year: Int, dayOfYear: Int) {
    val dateTimeFormatter = DateTimeFormatter.ofPattern(
        "MMM dd",
        dateTimeFormatter.format(LocalDate.ofYearDay(year, dayOfYear))

To avoid Activity recreation when the locale changes, the Activity hosting the Compose code needs to opt out of locale configuration changes. To do so, you set android:configChanges to locale|layoutDirection.

Configuration changes: Key concepts and best practices

These are the key concepts you need to know when working on configuration changes:

  • Configurations: device configurations define how the UI displays to the user, such as app display size, locale, or system theme.
  • Configuration changes: configurations change through user interaction. For example, the user might change device settings or how they physically interact with the device. There's no way to prevent configuration changes.
  • Activity recreation: configuration changes result in Activity recreation by default. This is a built-in mechanism to re-initialize app state for the new configuration.
  • Activity destruction: Activity recreation causes the system to destroy the old Activity instance and create a new one in its place. The old instance is now obsolete. Any remaining references to it result in memory leaks, bugs, or crashes.
  • State: state in the old Activity instance is not present in the new Activity instance, because they are two different object instances. Preserve the app and user's state as described in Save UI states.
  • Opt-out: opting out of activity recreation for a type of configuration change is a potential optimization. It requires that your app properly updates in reaction to the new configuration.

To provide a good user experience, observe the following best practices:

  • Be prepared for frequent configuration changes: don't assume that configuration changes are rare or never happen, regardless of API level, form factor, or UI toolkit. When a user causes a configuration change, they expect apps to update and continue to work correctly with the new configuration.
  • Preserve state: don't lose the user's state when Activity recreation occurs. Preserve the state as described in Save UI states.
  • Avoid opting out as a quick fix: don't opt-out of Activity recreation as a shortcut to avoid state loss. Opting out of activity recreation requires you to fulfill the promise of handling the change, and you can still lose the state due to Activity recreation from other configuration changes, process death, or closing the app. It is impossible to entirely disable Activity recreation. Preserve the state as described in Save UI states.
  • Don't avoid configuration changes: don't put restrictions on orientation, aspect ratio, or resizability to avoid configuration changes and Activity recreation. This negatively impacts users who want to use your app in their preferred way.

Handle size-based config changes

Size-based configuration changes can happen at any time and are more likely when your app runs on a large screen device where users can enter multi-window mode. They expect your app to work well in that environment.

There are two general types of size changes: significant and insignificant. A significant size change is one where a different set of alternative resources applies to the new configuration due to a difference in screen size, such as width, height, or smallest width. These resources include those that the app defines itself and those from any of its libraries.

Restrict activity recreation for size-based config changes

When you disable Activity recreation for size-based configuration changes, the system doesn't recreate the Activity. Instead, it receives a call to Activity.onConfigurationChanged(). Any attached views receive a call to View.onConfigurationChanged().

Activity recreation is disabled for size-based configuration changes when you have android:configChanges="screenSize|smallestScreenSize|orientation|screenLayout" in your manifest file.

Allow activity recreation for size-based config changes

On Android 7.0 (API level 24) and higher, Activity recreation only occurs for size-based configuration changes if the size change is significant. When the system doesn't recreate an Activity due to insufficient size, the system might call Activity.onConfigurationChanged() and View.onConfigurationChanged() instead.

There are some caveats to observe regarding the Activity and View callbacks:

  • On Android 11 (API level 30) and above, Activity.onConfigurationChanged() isn't called.
  • On Android 12L (API level 32) and Android 13 (API level 33), View.onConfigurationChanged() isn't called.

For code that is dependent on listening for size-based configuration changes, we recommend using a utility View with an overridden View.onConfigurationChanged() instead of relying on Activity recreation or Activity.onConfigurationChanged().