Android tip: Use invisible icons to clean up your home screen


If you're like me, you know the position of some icons on your home screen so well that you don't really need any visual indication of where they are. If that's the case, why even display the icons at all? One thing I've done to customize my Galaxy S II's homescreen is to place icons in different locations and then make them invisible. It gives the impression of a clean homescreen, while providing the functionality of a cluttered one. I know that below my clock widget (which doesn't have an on-click feature) is a shortcut to the clock app, above my battery widget is a pop-up that controls screen brightness (this app if anyone is interested, what's secial about it is that it looks like a widget when clicked but is accessible with a normal icon), above the photo folder is a shortcut to the camera, and above the reference folder is a shortcut to package tracking. I know where all of these are, so I don't nneed to see them. 

To make this happen, you can use several different methods. The one I use is simply to use a blank .png image as a custom icon and then simply remove the name of the icon using the rename feature. Both of these things are possible in Go Launcher, but other launchers might lack those features, not allow you to rename shortcuts to *nothing* or *space*, or some other issue. You can always see if you launcher has the option to disable icon labels too, but that affects all icons, making it unwise if you have more icons and want labels for those. 

Alternatively there are widgets out there that can emulate icon functionality and use custom designs (like *blank*), e.g. Desktop Visualizer. That also allows you to create invisible application shotcuts that span more than just a single icon space, so that e.g. an entire row of icons is an invisible shortcut, making it easier to hit when it's invisible. Since widgets work across launchers, the widget method should also theoretically work on any launcher. 

This may not be the most advanced tip out there, but it's one I've found myself relying on quite a bit. A friend of mine's S II screen is a mess of loose icons everywhere, and that simply looks a bit too much…iOS…for my taste. 

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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