Android is an obvious choice for people who don’t want the kind of top-down control you get from companies like Apple, where everything is prefabricated to fit into a specific brand identity instead of catering to a user’s specific needs and preferences. Google’s open source software, fortunately, provides plenty of room for developers to customize your OS experience. But that freedom also trickles down to you, meaning you can further personalize your home screen just how you like it.
But that doesn’t mean you can just flick a switch and have everything your way. Not everything is customizable, and there are some limits to what you can do with the things that are.
So, without further ado, here are some of the coolest ways you can personalize your home screen on Android.
Personalize your home screen: The basics
There are some simple customizations to personalize your home screen on Android that don’t require that you download any new apps.
First, and most obvious, is the wallpaper you use as a background. You can opt for one of the bundled wallpapers, download some new ones or use your own existing photos.
How to change your wallpaper on Android:
- Tap and hold a blank space on your home screen.
- Tap on “Wallpapers” at the bottom of the screen.
- Choose from the existing wallpapers or use one of your own photos.
- Once you’ve made your selection, tap on “Set wallpaper.”
- Select whether you want that image as your home screen, lock screen, or both.
- Repeat the process if you want different images on your home and lock screen.
(Note that some Android phones require you to pinch the screen to access the home screen settings, rather than long-pressing.)
How to remove app shortcuts from your home screen:
- Tap and hold an app’s icon.
- Drag the app icon you want to hide into one of two places:
- The app drawer (represented by an icon in the center-bottom of the screen).
- Or to the “x” at the top of the screen labeled “Remove.”
- If you want to uninstall the app completely you should see “Uninstall” next to “Remove” at the top of the screen – simply drag the app icon there instead.
How to add app shortcuts to your home screen:
- First, open the app drawer.
- Tap and hold the app you want and drag it upwards onto your home screen.
- Drop it where you want it, and tap and hold to drag it to a different location.
- Drag and hold it near the edge of the screen to be taken to the next page.
How to create an app folder:
You can also create app groups on your home screen by combining similar apps into categories, each of which will have its own quick-access folder:
- Tap and hold an app
- Drag it on top of another app and release.
- The two apps should be merged into a shared folder.
- Drag any other appropriate apps into the folder.
- Tap the folder to open it and rearrange the app order by tap, hold and drag.
- Rename the folder to something like “Social,” “Messaging,” “Games,” or whatever.
How to add/remove widgets:
You can also decide which widgets to have on your home screen. The process is almost identical to moving apps on and off your home screen:
- Tap and hold a blank space on your home screen.
- Tap on “Widgets “at the bottom of the screen.
- Pick the widget you want on your home screen.
- Tap and hold it.
- Drag it to the position you’d like on your Android home screen.
Personalize your home screen: Get a new launcher
Beyond tweaking your home screen using what’s already on your phone, you can also download entirely new launchers, that will change the layout and functionality of your home screen itself. Launchers change the look, feel and behavior of even more parts of the Android OS, allowing you to make it truly your own.
Launchers also let you change your icons, helping you personalize your home screen to affect even the branding of third-party apps. Many launchers support gesture shortcuts and navigation, offer many more widgets and transition effects and can even learn your habits and adapt themselves to your needs throughout the day.
Custom Android launchers worth checking out include:
- Nova Launcher
- Action Launcher
- Evie Launcher
- Apex Launcher
- Hola Launcher
- Here are some other great options
Have a look at a few launchers and see which fit your personality best. Once you’ve found one you like the look of, install the app, open it and press the Home button. You should see a notification about changing your default launcher. Simply change your default to the new launcher. If you want to change back (or you don’t see the pop-up), go to your Settings and search for “launcher” – you should be able to find the right menu easily enough, then just select the one you want from the list of installed launchers to make it your new default.
There are plenty of ways to personalize your home screen on Android, whether that’s working with your existing settings and options, or downloading new ones via third-party launchers.
Have fun with your devices. Make them your own!
What are some of your favorite ways to personalize your home screen? Have you found third-party apps that make a big difference? Give us your feedback in the comments below!