When you talk about customization on Android device, the first thing that comes to mind are launchers. While there’s no dearth of great launchers on the Play Store, Nova Launcher (Free, Prime $4.99) is a fan favorite and deservedly so. The launcher brings a ton of customization options while making sure it does not slow down your device. If you are someone who does use Nova Launcher, you must be well aware of all the cool features like the ability to change icon packs, transition effects, app drawer style, dock style etc. but there are some tricks that not many people are aware of. Well, as you might have guessed, we bring you 10 cool Nova Launcher tricks that you should definitely use:
1. Check out the Labs Menu
Nova Launcher features a set of experimental features and debugging options in the hidden “Labs” menu. To access the Labs menu, you will first have to enable it by press holding the volume down button for a few seconds in the Nova Settings page. Once done, you will find a “Labs”option in the Nova Settings page. You can then check out various experimental options like big grid size options, upside down screen, Gmail unread count etc. There are “Debug” features as well but those are aimed at developers, so we would not recommend you to fiddle with them.
While the Labs menu has been available in Nova Settings since many years, the features in the menu change from time to time. So, don’t be surprised if an option is removed from the Labs menu because Nova keeps adding new options or moving them to the main Nova Settings page.
You can disable the Labs menu by press holding the volume button in the Nova Settings page.
2. Get Weather Info in Google Search Bar
Nova Launcher lets you make the Google search bar persistent and change its style but did you know that you can get the weather information on the Google search bar? Well, to do this, you will first have to head to Nova Settings->Labs Menu and enable the option that says “Allow weather in search bar“. Then, head to Nova Settings->Desktop->Search bar style and scroll down to the end, where you will find an option “Weather“. You can just enable it and choose the temperature unit you want.
Once done, you will see the temperature right on the Google search bar. That is cool, wouldn’t you say?
3. Swipe Actions on App Icons (Prime version)
Just opening apps from the app icons is so old school, Nova Launcher lets you enable swipe actions for app icons. That’s right, you can choose the app icons to launch an app, shortcut or even an activity, on a swipe. This can come in really handy when it comes to similar apps. For instance, I have set the Contacts app to launch the Phone app when swiped.
To enable swipe actions on any app icon, press hold on an app icon in the home screen and tap on “Edit“. If you are using Android 7.1, you might have to tap “Icon options” and then, “Edit” because you are first presented with the app shortcuts. Then, the app shortcut window should open up. Here, tap on “Swipe action“.
Then, the actions page, where you will have to choose the swipe action. You can choose from various activities, apps and app shortcuts. Just tap on any action and tap on “Done“.
Once done, whenever you tap on the icon, the app will open up but when you swipe, the action you chose will be triggered.
4. Change Specific App Icons
Everyone’s aware of the fact that you can easily change the icon packs through Nova Launcher but not many people know that you can change icons of specific apps. Sounds cool, right?
Well, you can do so by press holding an app and tapping on the “Edit” button. Here, you can just tap on the icon of the app and then, select from various built-in icons, icons from the different icon packs you’ve installed or choose your very own custom image from the Gallery. Once you have selected the icon you want, just tap done. This way you can choose to customize every app icon the way you want, plus you can even use this to create a transparent or invisible app icon.
5. Create Hidden Folders (Prime version)
Another feature in Nova Launcher that I love is the ability to create hidden folders. Through this feature, you can make a folder of shortcuts show up as a single app and when you tap on the app icon, the first app in the folder opens up or you can choose a custom shortcut and when you swipe on the app, the folder opens up.
To do this, press hold on a folder in the home screen and tap on “Edit“. In the Edit Folder box, just enable “Swipe to open folder”. You can choose to leave the tap action as “First item in the folder” or choose from various actions. This should come in handy when you don’t want people to see the folder and the apps in it.
6. Hide Apps (Prime version)
Since we are talking about privacy features, let’s move on to hiding apps. Like many launchers out there, Nova Launcher too lets you hide apps, which is a very essential feature, if you don’t want people prying on your private apps or if you just want to hide bloatware. To hide apps, you can head to Nova Settings->App & widget drawers, scroll down and tap on “Hide apps“. Then, you can just select the apps you want to hide and that’s it, the apps will be hidden from the home screen and the app drawer.
You can access these hidden apps by doing a search. If you want more ways to hide apps, you can check out our article on different ways to hide apps on Android.
7. Create Tabs in App Drawer (Prime version)
If you are someone who installs a ton of apps on your Android device, I’ll recommend you to create tabs in the app drawer for a more cleaner look. For instance, you can create tabs for different categories of apps like Social, Games, Work etc.
First, you’ll have to enable the “Tab bar” in Nova Settings->App & widget drawers. Once done, you can also change the tab style, menu action icons and isolate tabs. Then, scroll down below and tap on “Drawer groups“. Here, you can add different tabs by tapping the plus icon on the top right. You can also change the order in which they are available in the app drawer.
You can just tap on a tab group to select the apps you want in that tab. It’s simple yet something that you will love.
8. Prevent Changes to the Home Screen
So, now you’ve set up a beautiful home screen, thanks to the Nova Launcher but you just happen to give your phone to someone who just messes up your home screen. That’s sad but something that happens with a lot of us. Thankfully, Nova Launcher includes an option that prevents anyone from making any changes to the home screen.
To enable it, you can head to Nova Settings->Desktop and scroll down to the end and tap on “Advanced“. Then, enable the “Lock desktop” option. This options locks up the home screen and you cannot move any icons or even change the wallpaper. In fact, when you long press on the home screen, the launcher shows you that it’s locked along with an option to unlock it.
9. Double Tap to Lock Screen (Prime version)
Many Android devices include the cool double tap on screen to unlock feature but if you want to even lock a device by double tapping on the home screen, you can do so via the Nova Launcher. You can do so by heading to the Settings->Gestures & inputs and in the Gestures section, tap on “Double tap“. From the various actions, choose “Screen lock“.
Once done, double tap on the home screen, which will prompt you to choose a screen lock method. If you choose “Device Admin”, the device will be locked but if you have a fingerprint-featuring device, the fingerprint unlock will not work. However, you can choose “Timeout”, which blacks out the display for 5 seconds while the screen timeouts and the device is locked.
10. Make Folders Transparent
If you are someone who likes a minimal style for your Android home screen, chances are, the white or colorful background that pops up when you open a folder doesn’t look good to you. Well, you can make the folder background transparent with Nova Launcher. Head to Nova Settings->Folders and tap on “Background“. Then, just slide the Transparency bar to 100% and select any color circle you like. You will then see that when you open up a folder on the home screen, the background is transparent.
Bonus: Get the Pixel Style with Nova Launcher
Like the new Pixel devices from Google and the cool new Pixel launcher that they come with? Well, you don’t need a new Pixel to try it out. Instead, you can totally imitate the Pixel-look with Nova Launcher. Here’s our video on how you can get almost all the Pixel features on your Android device:
Note: If you’ve an extensive Nova Launcher set up, you should make sure to create a backup of your Nova Settings. You can do so in Nova Settings->Backup & import settings. This will make sure that even if you move to a new device, you can just install Nova Launcher and import your backup to quickly get your customized home screen on the new device.
Ready to try out these Nova Launcher tricks?
According to me, those are the best Nova Launcher tricks but if you’ve used Nova, you’d know that there’s a lot more to Nova. With so many options, you can play around with the various Nova settings to create your very own theme. As always, let me know if you know of any other cool Nova Launcher trick that I might have missed out on. Sound off in the comments section below.