The beginner’s guide to Substack’s new app

The popular newsletter platform has entered the Apple ecosystem.
A woman lying on her stomach on a couch, looking at her phone, wearing headphones, and with her feet in the air.

Maybe you'll find Substack's new app more comfortable. Joyce Busola / Unsplash

This story has been updated. It was first published on March 10, 2022.

After seven months of Apple exclusivity, Substack’s mobile app has arrived on Android. Now, both software ecosystems have access to a reading tool the newsletter platform has touted as “like your email inbox, but better.” We’ll leave the accuracy of that statement for you to decide—we’re just here to show you around.

How to use the Substack app’s inbox

There are four main tabs within Substack Reader, accessible from the bottom bar: your inbox, the Discover tab, your library, and your profile. The inbox is all the way to the left, and it’ll show all new posts from the writers you subscribe to. When you’re in your inbox, looking at the search tab, or viewing your own profile, the bell icon in the top right corner will notify you of any interactions with your comments or other Substack activity.

Tap any post to read it, and a new bottom bar will appear. From there, you can tap the heart icon to like the article, the speech bubble to comment, the share icon to, well, share. On iOS you’ll also get a save icon (a bookmark), to stash the post for later, while on Android you’ll get an archive button (a box with a lid on it), which does pretty much the same. When you’re done reading, hit the back arrow in the top left to return to your inbox. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can swipe right to do the same thing, while Android users can get there with a short swipe on either side of the screen.

While reading, open a post’s menu by tapping the three dots in the top right corner of the screen. From there, you’ll be able see the publication’s main page (View Publication), and Save the post (on Android, you’ll find Archive, instead). Users with iPhones will also get an extra button to adjust Display Settings. Speaking of saving articles to your in-app library, you can swipe left on any post in your inbox to archive it.

If you view a publication, you can tap the three dots in the top right to share it and manage your subscription. That’s all you get if you have an Android device, but if you have an iPhone you’ll also get an extra button to unsubscribe directly. Although the Manage subscription option exists, you cannot actually manage your subscription in the app—it will take you to a web page in your device’s default browser. Android users get the short end of the stick here, too: the subscription management URL doesn’t actually take you to a browser. Instead, you have to manually copy the URL and paste it into the browser’s navigation bar. The Android app does provide a button to automatically copy the address, which is… fine.

Substack app settings you should know

Tap your profile icon (it looks like a person) to edit your profile, see your subscriptions, and view any posts you’ve written. You can access the main settings menu by tapping the cog icon in the top right corner of your screen. From there, you can change your name, email, avatar, and bio by choosing Edit profile.

You can also enable push notifications from this settings menu, but if you want to disable them, you’ll need to open the iOS Settings app, find Substack, tap Notifications, and choose your preferences. On Android, the Settings button next to Push notifications will immediately take you to your device’s main notifications menu.

[Related: The best platforms to launch your own email newsletter]

The final option inside the Notifications area within the Substack app allows you to pause email notifications so you don’t get double-notified of new posts in the app and your inbox. This setting is actually off by default, so you’ll want to turn it on to keep your alerts to a minimum.

Using the Substack app library

We’ve mentioned saving posts a couple times already, and you’ll find your archive of stowed items behind the library icon, which looks like an open book. This tab will also display your podcasts, subscriptions, and anything you’ve archived, but there’s not much more you need to know about it. If for any reason you want to unarchive a post, though, you can’t.

How to find more newsletters in the Substack app

The magnifying glass icon on the bottom bar leads to the Discover tab. You can type anything into this tab’s search bar to find more newsletters, or scroll down to look at what Substack has decided to feature that week. Lower down, the page also lists topic categories that you can peruse.

Tap on any publication to see more information about it on its profile page, including its latest posts and the people involved. If you like it, hit Subscribe, and you’ll join as a free subscriber. You’ll also get a confirmation email that includes additional subscription options, such as paying to access the full suite of posts.

A final option is Discover via Twitter, which involves linking your Twitter account to see what people in your network are reading and writing. To do so, you’ll have to provide your Twitter username or email, as well as your Twitter password. This will give Substack Reader the ability to see tweets on your timeline (including protected ones); your lists and collections; your profile information and account settings; your email address; and the accounts you follow, mute, and block.

If you ever want to turn off Substack’s access to your tweets, open Twitter, tap your profile picture (on mobile) or More (on the web), then go to Settings and privacy, Security and account access, Apps and sessions, Connected apps, select Substack, and choose Revoke app permissions.

Now go stack those subs. We’ll see ourselves out.