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How to customize your Android phone with themes and startup programs

  Android phone showing custom launcher

Android customization is one reason why many prefer it. You can change the look, feel and function of virtually all Android phones with themes, custom launchers and icon packages. This is how you begin.

Some phones allow you to install themes, while all Android phones allow you to install custom boot programs and icon packages. This goes a long way to making your phone unique, thanks to the almost endless starter and icon package customizations.

Step One: Choose a Theme (Some Phones Only)

  Themes in the Game Store

Some Android phones allow you to choose a theme for the phone caller, messenger, Settings app, and other embedded applications. These are usually as simple as choices between light and dark backgrounds, but it can't be an all-or-nothing deal. For example, the Pixel line does not allow users to choose between a bright and dark theme for the Settings menu, but the Quick Settings menu, answering machine, messenger and some (but not all) Google's other applications can be individually selected between light and dark mode.

If you use a Galaxy phone, you get access to Samsung's fantastic theme store. This allows you to change the icons used in Samsung's startup program, the color of the Settings menu and the Quick Setup menu, Samsung's messaging application, answering machine and other built-in applications. It also allows you to change the navigation on the navigation buttons. For example, the theme I use (called Material Dark) makes the navigation buttons look like those on the vanilla's Android phones. Finally, with Samsung themes, you can download different patterns for your always on the display, so even if your phone is just sitting on a table, you can show off a small personal feel.

 details page for a theme

If you do not get theme options with the phone manufacturer's built-in apps, you can always use another app from the Play Store. You can use Google Messaging to send SMS and Solid Explorer to browse files and switch between the dark and light theme inside those apps.

Step Two: Choose a Launcher

The Launcher is where you notice the greatest opportunity to customize your phone. The startup program is the first thing you see when you unlock your phone and where you go when you are not using an app. In addition to giving you an aesthetic choice, launchers you can also navigate the phone faster with gestures.

 Custom launcher appears on the Android screen

Nova Launcher is ever popular. It has a free version that allows you to use icon packages, change icon sizes, choose between folder and font, use app paths and more. The free version is likely to be more customizable than the launcher that was sent on your phone, but the paid version gives you even more options for only $ 5. My favorite features in the paid version are gestures and the ability to hide apps from your appbox. My app box has a total of four apps visible because I have hidden all the apps that are in my home screen folder and those I just don't use often.

 app & widget song screen

You can also add a gesture to the home screen by opening Nova Settings again. Then select "Gestures & Inputs" to change the settings for gestures and use the home button to return to the starter and test the gestures.

 nova setup screen [19659003] This is of course just a few Nova functions. You can do much more with it.

RELATED: The five most useful features of Nova Launcher for Android

Action Launcher is also popular. It provides the best features of Google's Pixel Launcher to all Android devices, including those stuck on old versions of Android. You get full support for icon packages, as well as the ability to resize icons automatically to make them more uniform. One of the more unique features is Shutters: swipe up on an app icon to see its widget (if it has one). You also get Action Launcher's famous Quickdrawer, which lets you swipe from the left side of the screen to see all apps, rather than setting up or pressing a button on the home screen.

 Quickdrawer appearing on the screen

If none of these turn on you fancy – or if you just want to go down the rabbit hole in the start list – there are more options on the Play Store. Give a few tries, then choose one that suits you best.

Step three: Download an icon package and wallpapers

 icons in the game store

Icon package is the glaze on top of the adaptation cake. There are thousands of icon packages to choose from, so you have to find one you love. I go back and forth between Whicons and Moonshine Pro, depending on how much color I want to see. Most icon packs cost less than one dollar – if the developer costs anything at all, then you can try multiple packages without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that you will need a custom launcher before you can use an icon package.

 wallpapers at the game store

Wallpapers are also a great way to make your phone stand out. Your phone probably contains some background images to get started, but apps like Backdrops have even more choices. You can also always set a photo of your children, significant others or favorite animals as wallpaper.

You do not need to use all of these on your phone; Even a new wallpaper will make your phone stand out from the audience. No matter which launcher or icons you use, your phone will really be yours.

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