5 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Android Home Screen for Maximum Efficiency

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Display

Jason Hiner/ZDNet

I have been using Android since its initial release in 2008. Those early years were rough and sometimes I feel like I made a mistake by jumping from Apple. It’s now 2024 and I’m glad I stuck with my choice.

One of the biggest reasons I’m glad to stick with Android is that the OS can be incredibly efficient… especially the home screen. Where iOS icons can be a garage sale, Android can be anything you want.

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But there is a catch. Each manufacturer has its own take on Android. What you can do with a Pixel, you can’t do with a Samsung Galaxy (and vice versa). That doesn’t mean you can’t do something that carries over to the home screen launcher and OEM platform.

I’d like to offer you five ways you can make your Android home screen a more useful interface for your phone — no matter what device you use.

With that said, get to the tips.

1. Clear your home screen of unused apps

My Android home screen is, for the most part, blank (more on that in a bit). I’ve always found a home screen full of app launchers to be not only a confusing mess, but also unnecessary. With Android, you have the app drawer, which houses every launcher for every app you have. And given that the app drawer is just a quick swipe up away, why not keep your home screen so clean and organized that you don’t immediately see a dumpster full of launchers as you swipe from page to page? At least the app drawer is alphabetical and searchable.

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To prevent app icons from being added to your home screen, long press the home screen, tap Home Settings, and then tap the on/off switch for “Add app icons to home screen.”

Add app icon to home screen Enable/Disable switch.

Disable this feature to prevent app icons from being added to your Android home screen.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

2. Use folders

As I mentioned a moment ago, I have very few Android home screens. The launchers I keep are kept in folders, each organized by category. Within each folder, I only have launchers that I use regularly, and the folders are named according to their purpose (like Contacts, Social, and Google).

You can create a folder by simply dragging one launcher onto another and then moving the folder to a location on your home screen that makes it easy to access. I put five folders on my home screen and they’re all at the bottom, so I can open them while using the phone with one hand.

A row of folders on the Android home screen

I keep my home screen clean with folders.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

3. Keep a minimal widget

You may be tempted to fill your home screen with widgets, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re going to add widgets, not only should you keep them to a minimum, you should only use widgets that serve a specific purpose for you.

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You should keep widgets to a minimum because with so many widgets on your home screen, long-pressing your home screen for things like accessing the home screen settings pop-up can become a challenge. If you’re carrying too many widgets, you’ll need to swipe to another page to access that long-press pop-up first.

Android home screen long press menu.

If you can’t access this pop-up, you may have too many widgets on your home screen.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

4. Place the Google search bar

Some home screen launchers let you remove the Google search bar. I would recommend leaving it. Chances are pretty good that you search with your phone all day. Without a search bar on your home screen, you must first open your default web browser and then run a search.

With the search bar, you just need to tap and type your search string. Better yet, if your home screen launcher allows it, I’d recommend moving the search bar to the bottom of the home screen, so you can access it while using your device with one hand.

5. Easy access to Google apps

The Google app is very convenient. Not only does it offer quick access to managing your Google Account, but it also offers personalized news items and even local weather and sports scores (if that’s important to you). Some home screen launchers ship with this disabled (some don’t even allow it).

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But for those who allow it, enabling it will help make your home screen more efficient (especially if you want to keep important news close to you). Some home screen launchers will vary on how this feature is enabled, but on the Pixel Launcher, it’s as simple as long-pressing the home screen, tapping Home Settings, and then tapping the on/off slider for “Swipe to access Google apps.” .

I always keep this feature enabled, so a quick right-swipe on my home screen gives me quick access to relevant information, data and more.

Switch to enable Google App Swipe.

Enable this setting if you want faster access to Google apps.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

And there you have it, five ways to make your Android home screen more efficient Of course, not every tip will apply to you, and you may find something that works better for your daily use. Either way, here’s hoping you’ve found the ideal setup that helps you interact more effectively with your phone.

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