7 ways to personalize the home screen of your Android smartphone or tablet

Picture this: your smartphone is like a book. Every action you take corresponds to a page of 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 go to 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 after 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 one of the most customizable and personalizable aspects of an Android device. You can add shortcuts to your most frequently used apps, and you can even have interactive widgets to help you do whatever it is that you most frequently do on your smartphone, like setting the alarm, monitor your device's battery consumption or control your music player. In this tutorial, we will show you the ways in which you can customize your Android device's home screen so that it fits your personality and preferences:

NOTE: For this tutorial, we used a Motorola Nexus 6 device running Android 7.1.1 Nougat. The procedures are similar on all Android-powered devices, so you should be good to go even if you are running a different version of Android on your device.

First steps towards customizing the Android home screen

When you launch your Android smartphone or tablet for the first time, its home screen probably looks like this:

Most of the home screen options and settings can be accessed by tapping and holding on space on the screen, like on some place on the screen other than an icon or a widget.

This opens the settings mode of the launcher, showing you the three main options available: Wallpapers, Widgets, and Settings. This is the screen where some of the customizing methods start in.

1. Change your Android home screen wallpaper

The first and most basic thing that you can do to customize your Android home screen is to change its home screen wallpaper, with your favorite photo or image. To do that, enter the settings mode of the launcher home screen (tap and hold on a space on the home screen) and then tap on the Wallpapers option.

The system opens a dialog where you can choose to use one of the predefined wallpapers or use one of your photos. 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 it. If you prefer using one of your photos as a wallpaper, tap on the “My photos” button found on the left side of the list.

When you have decided which picture you want, tap the “Set wallpaper” button on the top-left corner of the screen.

Android asks you whether you want to use that picture as your home screen wallpaper, as your lock screen wallpaper, or as both. If you want to use it only as your home screen background, tap on the “Home screen” option.

Now the picture you chose is displayed on the background of your home screen.

NOTE: If you want a new wallpaper each day, on your Android device, then you should read this tutorial: How to get daily wallpapers from Google on your Android device.

2. Add or remove app shortcuts to your Android home screen

To add an app shortcut on your home screen, open the apps list panel by tapping on the Apps icon on the bottom of the screen. It usually looks like six dots inside a white circle.

Then, in the apps drawer, tap and hold on any app and grab it. Continue holding your finger on the screen and the system allows you to place that app by dragging its icon to an empty 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.

If at some point, you feel that your home screen is too cluttered with way too many apps which you no longer use all that much, you can quickly remove them from the home screen. However, note that removing an app icon from the home screen does not uninstall the app from your device.

To remove an app shortcut or a widget from the home screen, tap and hold on its home screen shortcut. When you hold the app shortcut, a Remove button appears at the top of the screen. In some versions of Android this button is a small trash can icon. If you drag the app icon and release it on top of the Remove button, it is erased from the home screen, freeing the space it occupied before.

NOTE: If you need a guide on how to uninstall apps from your Android smartphone, read this one: How To Uninstall Apps From An Android Device.

3. Create or remove app groups on your Android home screen

To free up valuable space on the home screen and also keep things organized, you can also group app shortcuts on the home screen into folders, or app groups if you prefer. To do that, all you need to do is drag an app shortcut on top of another one that is already found on the home screen. A group containing the two apps is instantly created.

After the group is created, you can add more apps to the group by dragging and dropping any number of apps on top of the app group, from the home screen or the apps list drawer as well.

The folder, or app group, shows the last app icon in the foreground, with all the other app icons partially visible behind it.

You can also rename the folder by opening it and tapping on the name of the folder, originally called “Unnamed Folder,” and then type a new name for it.

If you want to remove an app folder from your home screen, drag it to the top of the screen and release it onto the Remove button.

Please note that this feature is not available on all Android smartphones or tablets. However, most devices with new Android versions, should have it available.

Read the next page of this guide to learn how to add or remove widgets on your Android home screen, how to manage home screen pages, how to access your launcher’s settings, and also some of the best launchers that you can find.