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How to change the default launcher in Android Lollipop

Take control of your home screens

One of the coolest things about Android is the way we, as users, can take control of core parts of the operating system and change them up. We've seen it with keyboards, messaging apps, and of course, the launcher itself.

There are some really great third-party launchers for Android. Apps like Nova Launcher or Action Launcher are extremely popular, and proof that those of us using Android relish having a choice to do things a different way. These apps have hundreds of thousands of downloads for a reason. Having said that, it's important to know just how to manage your launcher(s) on your phone or tablet. Have a look at setting defaults (and removing any defaults) in Android Lollipop.

Home setting

If you can't see the video, the process is dead simple.

  • Install any of the great third-party launchers from Google Play. In fact, install as many as you like!
  • Tap your home button. Choose the launcher you want to use from the list you're provided. If you want choose "just once" you'll get the same choice the next time you hit the home button. If you choose "Always" you'll use the launcher you chose by default each time you go back home.
  • To choose a different default, go to Settings > Home and pick from the list.
  • To clear any defaults and get a choice again, go to Settings > Apps and find the list entry for the launcher you've set as default. Tap the entry to open the app settings, and chose to Clear Defaults.

There are plenty of other tips and tricks in Android Lollipop, and we'll be bringing them to you one at a time. While some may feel basic, inclusion of everything makes for the best set of help and how-to docs — especially for those new to the world of Android. Stay tuned!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

26 Comments
  • It's the same as KitKat. Seems redundant to post this article. Running out of stuff to write about lol much love. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's what I thought. But I suppose they have to push these things out every now and again so that users don't think they are outdated Posted via the Android Central App
  • Cole, one of my customers just bought her first smart phone (Moto G) and I told her about this site. So while it may be redundant for you, that are probably many people that find posts like this to be very helpful.
  • I'm with Tom Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're right. Didn't think about them. Thanks. Sorry Posted via the Android Central App
  • Thank you Tom Posted via Android Central App
  • Wouldn't your new smartphone user not know what a launcher is though, unless you told them of course Posted via...The One
  • Your comment is redundant...no it's just stupid. There are people new to Android joining the site every day and they don't already know this information. So yes, it's important to post it for those people. Believe it or not this site wasn't developed just for you. Posted from my Droid Turbo, Kelly and Ozone
  • Your an ass man. I made a mistake and u comment like that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I really wish the Google Now Launcher or NOVA had the Lollipop Power Control Widget that was left off of my Moto X.
  • I have an N7 2013 that just got android 5.01 and it has the 'power control' widget available. I'm using the G-now launcher. However I also have a Nvidia Shield tablet that has Android 5.0 and the power control widget is NOT available also on the G-now launcher. I wonder if it's a 5.01 vs 5.0 thing or just Android fragmentation.
  • It's actually built into the AOSP launcher (Launcher3) which is baked into the N7's stock ROM. I also have the Power Control Widget on my 2012 N7 that's still hanging out on 5.0.
  • Why not use power toggles, it's basically that just customisable Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sorry, what is the power control widget?
  • I cover this and about 40 other lollipop tips in this video (only 15 minutes long). http://youtu.be/aOkK0Dht2QA
  • The title photo for this article shows a nexus 6 in isolation... not plugged in, and not resting on anything. Yet, the battery icon in the status bar shows that it's being charged. That's a neat trick. ;) (It's also, apparently, plugged into an invisible USB cord based on the left side of the status bar.)
  • Can't get nothing by you. Posted via some candy
  • Does anyone else hate the white background in the app drawer? I loved the transparent look I had in Kit Kat. This plain white background makes me crazy.
  • Yes, all the white background stuff that used to be black makes me crazy. I got the OTA for Android 5.01 on my N7 2013 and using the stock launcher, the app drawer is black. I didn't have 5.0 on it, so I can't tell if its a feature of the 5.01 version. Sadly the settings background is still white with green icons. (yuck)
  • For every person that bitches about the white, there are two that love it. Luckily, Google knows not to design the OS for the phone nerds, myself included, that peruse this site.
  • Yeah well SOME of us have vision disabilities that make black text on a white screen UNREADABLE and unusable. Google would be well advised to take others into account and give people color scheme choices. Don't be like Apple! One size does not fit all! Posted via Android Central App
  • @GadgetGator: So right. Many of us also have preferences as to the way we customize the look of Android. Why not have the choice of a light or dark theme included in the OS? Maybe in 5.1? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Great post, finally I have learnt how to switch between launchers! Thank you Android Central! Posted via Android Central App
  • Any suggestions for a launcher which is the same as Google now but with landscape? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love the miui launcher 'M' - give it a try very customizable Posted via Android Central App
  • Not by any mean a trick as it has been like this before already.