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Customizing Your Device

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Android gives you access to a wide range of settings, enabling you to configure your device to work the way you prefer. You can access most of these settings through the Settings app. Learn to customize your Android device starting with the Home screens which can make a huge difference in how you use your phone or tablet. Also set up your security preferences and launcher.

This chapter is from the book

In this chapter, you’ll learn to customize your Android device. You’ll start with the Home screens because setting these up the way you prefer can make a huge difference in how you use your phone or tablet.

Android gives you access to a wide range of settings, enabling you to configure your device to work the way you prefer. You can access most of these settings through the Settings app.

Setting Up Your Home Screens

Your Home screens are your base camp for getting things done in Android, so you will want to make them as useful as possible. This means adding the icons and widgets you use the most and arranging them into your preferred order. You may also want to add Home screens (or remove existing ones) and change the wallpaper.

The way you customize Home screens depends on the version of Android and the launcher it is running.

Adding and Removing Home Screens

To give yourself space for your icons and widgets, you can create extra Home screens. If you no longer need a Home screen, you can remove it.

Google Now Launcher makes it easy to add Home screens. Follow these steps:

  1. Swipe left one or more times to display the last Home screen (the one on the right).

  2. Tap and hold an icon to make it mobile, and then drag it to the right edge of the screen. Android automatically creates another Home screen.

  3. Release the icon.

To remove a Home screen with Google Now Launcher, you remove all the icons from it. Android then gets rid of the surplus Home screen automatically.

Adding Apps to Your Home Screens

You can run any app from the Apps screen, but you’ll probably want to put the apps you use most on your first Home screen for quick access.

Here’s how to add an app’s icon to a Home screen:

  1. On the Home screen, tap the Apps icon to display the Apps screen.

  2. Tap and hold the icon for the app you want to add to the Home screen. Thumbnails of the Home screens appear.

  3. Drag the icon to the destination Home screen, position it where you want it, and then drop it.

Adding Widgets to Your Home Screens

You can also add widgets, tiny apps that display specific information, to your Home screens. Android comes with an extensive selection of widgets built in. If you need widgets beyond these, you can find many more on the Play Store and other online sites.

Here’s how to add a widget to a Home screen with Google Now Launcher:

  1. Tap and hold open space on the Home screen to display the customization controls. (See the left screen in Figure 3.1.)

    FIGURE 3.1

    FIGURE 3.1 Tap and hold open space on the Home screen to display the customization controls (left), and then tap the Widgets button to display the Widgets screen (right).

  2. Tap the Widgets button to display the Widgets screen. (See the right screen in Figure 3.1.)

  3. Swipe up until you find the widget you want to add. You may also need to swipe left to see all the widgets available for a particular app.

  4. Tap and hold the widget to pick it up. The Home screens then appear as thumbnails. (See the left screen in Figure 3.2.)

    FIGURE 3.2

    FIGURE 3.2 When the Home screen thumbnails appear (left), drag the widget to the appropriate Home screen. For some widgets, you then must choose the content to display, such as choosing the folder for the Gmail widget (right).

  5. Drag the widget to where you want it to appear, and then drop it.

  6. If the widget displays any configuration options, choose suitable settings. For example, when you add the Gmail widget to a Home screen, you get to choose which folder to display in the widget. (See the right screen in Figure 3.2.)

Adding Web Addresses to Your Home Screens

If you need to be able to quickly access particular websites, you can add their addresses to your Home screens. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Chrome browser and go to the web page or website.

  2. Tap the Menu button to open the menu.

  3. Tap the Add to Home Screen button to display the Add to Home Screen dialog box.

  4. Either accept the default name for the icon or type a descriptive name that will enable you to identify it. Often, you’ll need to shorten the name to make it useful.

  5. Tap the Add button. Android adds the icon to your Home screen. You can then tap and hold it and move it to another location if you want.

Organizing Home Screen Items into Folders

Your device’s Home screens provide enough space for an almost infinite number of icons, but you’ll probably need to keep them organized in a human-friendly way. To organize your icons, you can create folders either on the Home screens themselves or in the Favorites tray.

Here’s how to create a folder:

  1. Navigate to the Home screen that contains the icons. You can drag icons from one screen to another, but it’s easier to start with them on the same screen.

  2. Tap and hold an icon until it becomes mobile.

  3. Drag the icon on top of another icon you want to put in the same folder. Android puts the two icons in a folder and assigns it the default name Unnamed Folder.

  4. Tap the folder to open it.

  5. Tap the folder’s default name (Unnamed Folder) and then type the name you want to give it.

  6. Tap the check-mark button on the keyboard or tap outside the folder’s name to apply the name.

Adding Dropbox Folders to Your Home Screens

If you’ve installed the Dropbox app on your device, you may want to give yourself an easy way to access key folders. To do so, add one or more instances of the Dropbox widget to your Home screen using the technique explained earlier in this chapter. When you add the widget, Android prompts you to choose the folder that the widget will open. Tap the appropriate folder, and then tap the Create Shortcut button. Android gives the widget the name of the folder.

Repositioning Items on Your Home Screens

To reposition an item on a Home screen, tap and hold it until it becomes mobile, and then drag it to where you want to place it.

Removing Items from Your Home Screens

To remove an item from a Home screen, tap and hold the item’s icon until the Remove button appears at the top of the screen. Drag the icon to the Remove button and drop it there.

Rearranging Your Home Screens

To rearrange your Home screens with Google Now Launcher, open the Home screens for customization, and then tap and hold the thumbnail for the Home screen you want to move. When it becomes mobile, drag it to its destination and drop it there.

Setting the Wallpaper

To change the overall look of your Home screens, you can change the wallpaper. Android comes with a set of colorful wallpapers, and you can download other wallpapers to add variety. You can also use a photo of your own.

Follow these steps to set the wallpaper with Google Now Launcher:

  1. Tap and hold open space to open the Home screen for customization.

  2. Tap the Wallpapers button to display the Wallpapers screen.

  3. Tap the My Photos button if you want to use one of your own images for the wallpaper; when you find the image, tap it to preview it. Otherwise, scroll the list of wallpapers and tap the one you want to preview.

  4. When you’ve selected the wallpaper you want, tap the Set Wallpaper button to apply it.

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