How to Install an Android Launcher and Customize Your Phone’s Interface

How to Install an App Launcher

Whether your phone is made of unibody aluminum or cheap plastic, you’ll care a lot more about what appears on-screen that the chassis around it. If you don’t like the look of your icons, app drawer and desktop or you find that they’re sluggish, a third party app launcher can give your smartphone a whole new interface. There are at least half a dozen popular app launchers with names such as Lightning Launcher, Go Launcher Ex and Apex, each of which provides a bevy of customization options that let you control everything from how screen transitions animate to whether the notification bar is hidden or visible.

There are also dozens of themes for each launcher that contain their own icon sets, wallpapers and other visual elements. Even better, some of these launchers are even faster than the one that came with your phone, making your trips to the home screen that much snappier.

To set up a third party app launcher:

  1. Download and install your launcher from Google Play. 
  2. Tap the home button. A list of possible launchers appears.
  3. Select the new launcher and tap Always. The launcher will now take over your home screen and app drawers.
    Select the Launcher Then Tap Always 
  4. Navigate to the launcher’s settings menu. On many launchers, including Nova Launcher, you can get to the custom settings menu by long pressing on the desktop. On others, you can access settings by hitting the menu button when you’re viewing the desktop.
    Nova Launcher Home Screen Menu
  5. Use the settings menu to customize the launcher. The options and menu structure will vary based on which launcher you use. On Nova Launcher, for example, you have submenus for the desktop, app drawer, dock and custom gestures, among others. In many launchers, you can configure the desktop and app menus to rotate along with the phone, something most Android phones don’t do by default.
    Nova Launcher Settings
  6. Download themes from Google Play for your launcher. Some themes will work on multiple launchers.
     Search Google Play for Themes

If you want to switch launchers, you can either uninstall the current one or navigate to the apps menu in settings, select the current launcher and tap Clear Defaults. Android will prompt you to choose a new launcher next time you tap home.

Change Android App Launcher

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch on
Facebook Twitter Google+
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. Max Summers Says:

    What happens to the default launcher when new is installed. I have a Zenfone 5 and it has a default ZenUI. Does launchers cause battery drain?

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options