How to customize the Home Screen on your Android smartphone or tablet

Picture this: your smartphone is like a book. Every action you take on your phone corresponds to a page inside the book. You want to check your next appointments, you open the book and turn the pages, stopping at the page labeled "Calendar"; you want to make a phone call, you open the book on the page called "Phone". If every page corresponds to an app or feature on your smartphone, then what should correspond to the Table of Contents? Well, the Table of Contents would be the launcher app, the first thing you see when you turn on your smartphone, the central app you use to reach everything else. That first screen of the launcher is called the "Home Screen". Fortunately, the Home Screen is never something standardized and impersonal, but instead it is usually one of the most customizable and personalizable aspects of an Android device. You can add shortcuts to your most frequently used apps to it or you can even have interactive widgets to help you do whatever it is that you most frequently do on your phone (set an alarm, monitor your device's battery consumption or control your music player). In this tutorial, we will teach you how to customize your device's Home Screen, so it fi ts your needs like a glove.

NOTE: For the purpose of this tutorial, we used a Google Nexus 5 device running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The procedures are similar on all Android powered devices, so you should be good to go even if you're running a different version of Android on your device.

First steps towards customizing the Android Home Screen

When first booted, our Android Home Screen looks like this:

Most of the Home Screen options and settings can be accessed by tapping and holding in an empty space on the screen, i.e. some place on the screen that's not an icon or a widget, like this:

Doing this will open the settings mode of the launcher, presenting you with the three main options: Wallpapers , Widgets and Settings. This is the screen where some of the following sections of this tutorial will begin .

How to change your Android Home Screen wallpaper

The first and most basic thing we're going to teach you is how to change your Home Screen wallpaper. This is the first step you can take towards personalizing your device - having a favourite photo or image on the background of your Home Screen. To access the dialog where you can choose your favourite wallpaper, while on the settings mode of the launcher Home Screen, tap on the Wallpapers option.

The system will show you a dialog where you can choose a predefined wallpaper or use a photo you have stored on your device as your wallpaper. To choose a wallpaper, scroll through the list of images on the bottom of the screen until you find the one you like. Then tap on it to preview your screen with that picture set as a wallpaper. To use one of your photos as a wallpaper, you can tap on the My photos button on the left of the list.

When you've decided which picture you want, tap the Set wallpaper button on the top-left corner of the screen to set it as a wallpaper.

How to a dd app shortcuts to your Android Home Screen

To add an app shortcut on your Home Screen, you don't need to switch to the settings mode of the Home Screen. Instead, just open the apps panel by tapping on the Apps icon on the bottom of the screen.

Then, while in the apps drawer, tap and hold on any app and you will basically grab it. If you continue holding your finger on the screen, the system allows you to place the app's icon by dragging the icon to any place on the Home Screen.

When you lift your finger off the screen, the app's icon is placed on the Home Screen, ready to be quickly opened.