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For those of you reading that this don’t know, I happen to work for Nova Launcher, the #1 third party launcher app in the entire Google Play Store. I am their customers support manager and their social media manager. But this post isn’t about what I do for Nova Launcher, it’s about what you can do with Nova Launcher to make your Android device the best it can possibly be.

Today I’m going to give you a list of five things that you want to do with Nova Launcher as soon as you begin using it that will make your Android life better as well as make using Nova Launcher much more enjoyable.

Import Settings From Another Launcher

When most people switch to a new launcher, they want it to feel as comfortable as possible from the get go. With Nova Launcher, you can import your settings from another launcher directly into Nova Launcher to get yourself fairly close to how your previous launcher was set up and looking. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start.

Simply navigate to Nova Settings -> Backup & Import Settings -> Import. You’ll get a toast message that pops up and says: “Warning! This will erase Nova’s desktop layout and replace it with the selected configuration. Are you sure you wish to proceed?”

Simply click OK, and then you’ll be given a list of installed launchers that you can import your settings from. Note, not all launchers are available due to various reasons but if your launcher is listed then click it and proceed.

Nova will import as many of the settings as possible. Again, it won’t be a perfect match to what you had as every launcher does things differently from the other, but it’ll get you close and hopefully get you feeling at least semi comfortable with Nova enough that you can find your way around at that time.


Setup Gestures

Gestures are something that I use constantly within Nova Launcher as they make life easier and make using the launcher quicker in various ways. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of gestures you can use within Nova Launcher so unfortunately I won’t be able to give you a list of them all here.

Navigate to Nova Settings -> Gestures & Inputs and there you’ll see a list of the available gestures such as double tap, swipe up, swipe down, double tap swipe up and many more.

For me personally one of the very first things I do with any device that I get for review or own is set the swipe up gesture to open Nova Settings. That way I don’t have to worry about having the Nova Settings icon on my homescreen or even visible in my app drawer. I just always know that Nova Settings is a simple swipe up on the homescreen.

The other gesture I set immediately upon install of Nova Launcher is the double tap gesture and I set that to open up my Phone Settings. As that’s another frequently visited place within my device that I want a quick and easy way to access.

Again, there are many things you can do with gestures and you can even change the behavior of the Home Button on your device. Mine is currently set to open App Search because I use Sesame Shortcuts and it gives me quick access to app search. If I’m on the homescreen, clicking the home button will open app search. If I’m in an app or settings screen, then clicking the home button twice will bring up my app search just like that.


Setup Notification Badges

What are notification badges you ask? They are often referred to as unread counts or unread notifications or even unread badges. For Nova Launcher, it comes with three options for notification badges. Numeric Badges, which also requires you to install their TeslaUnread app, Dots and Dynamic Badges. All three of these will require you to have purchased Nova Launcher Prime, which is currently priced at $4.99. It’ll give you many more features beyond the free version of the app including access to Gestures & Inputs and Notification Badges.

Simply navigate to Nova Settings -> Notification Badges and pick your poison here. Dots are simple colored dots that signify you have some kind of new message for that specific app that you haven’t read or looked at yet. Dynamic Badges are a fun spin on things and are usually profile pictures of the person who contacted you via SMS, phone call or anything like that where either you have a contact image for that person set or the app in question has a profile image for that person. It can often be the apps icon or something very similar.

For both of the notification badge types above you will have to have a notification in the notification bar at the top of the screen before you will see the Dots or Dynamic Badge on the app you’re wanting the notification bar. And once you clear out that notification, the Dot or Dynamic Badge will disappear, even if the message hasn’t been read. This is what makes both Dots and Dynamic Badges much more accurate and informative compared to Numeric Badges.

Numeric Badges are just that, a number badge that appears on your app icons that tell you about unread notifications. For Numeric Badges, things work considerably different. Some apps choose to use the TeslaUnread API which means that even if you clear out the notification in the notification bar, the unread count will still be shown. Other apps choose not to use said API, and therefore will work just like Dots and Dynamic Badges.

Numeric Badges also may count the total number of messages for such things as Gmail, but may count the number of contacts you have a message from in SMS apps or similar. This is an old way of doing things that has been around for a while, and is the reason why TeslaCoilSW, the makers of Nova Launcher and TeslaUnread, are pushing for everyone to use Dots or Dynamic Badges going forward.

Also with Numeric Badges, you can customize their looks in several ways, such as size, colors, how round the corners are and even what corner of the app icon they appear on. Dots and Dynamic Badges don’t have all of these customization options for various reasons.


Custom Icon Packs

Nova Launcher allows you to do a ton of customization to your device and it’s hard to find much of anything that it can’t do. One really huge thing that it’s had for years and years now is the ability to allow you to set custom icon packs that will theme every icon on your device.

Simply head over to the Google Play Store and search for Icon Packs, and most of what you will find will work with Nova Launcher. Once you find something you enjoy, such as Pixly by StealthyChief which is what I’m using right now in my screenshots, then download and install it to your device.

Once you have your icon pack, then navigate to Nova Settings -> Look & Feel -> Icon Theme and select the newly installed icon pack or any icon pack that is listed in that screen.

As long as the app developer has made a custom icon for it, your app icons will be themed with their style of icons for that specific icon pack. This happens on both the homescreen and within the app drawer.

If for some reason an icon isn’t themed by the icon pack, or you’d like to set a different icon for a certain app, that’s doable, again in both the app drawer and on the homescreen.

A simple long press on the app icon you want to change and then clicking Edit will get you going. Once you click Edit, you’ll click on the app icon again, then you’ll be able to choose where you can select icons from to change to. You can choose to pick a new icon from the icon pack you’re using or from another icon pack that is completely different. The choice is yours.

One thing to note here is that doing this only changes the icon for that specific place. So if you’re editing an icon on the homescreen, that apps icon will not change in the app drawer and vice versa. You can however edit the app icon in the app drawer, then drag that newly chosen app icon to the homescreen once you’re done editing so you don’t have to edit it twice, though editing an app icon takes 15 – 20 seconds at the most.


Backup Your Settings

Once you have Nova Launcher setup the way you want and like, then I highly recommend you make a Nova Backup. This is very simple and once the backup is created you can upload it to the cloud to such places like Dropbox, Google Drive or you can save it to your SD Card if your device has one of those or just locally on the device itself.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, where does the backup save to if I save it to my device? The answer to that question is: /data/com.teslacoilsw.launcher/backup

Once you have a backup created and saved, you can always restore it if you accidentally mess something up on your device, change devices, install a new ROM or many other things.

You can have multiple backups saved, so if you like to change layouts, get used to creating and restoring backups as they will save you a ton of time and often a ton of heartache.

It’s A Wrap

There are many, and I repeat, many other things that you can do with Nova Launcher, both the free version and Nova Launcher Prime. These above are just five of them to get you started and I plan on enlightening you more and more every week or so with more great features and options within what is considered to be the best launcher app for all of Android, and that’s an opinion stated by millions of dedicated users.

Nova Launcher also has a beta version of their app that you can check out by visiting their official community over on Google+ by clicking here: Nova Launcher Beta (Official). You can also check out their Twitter here: @Nova_Launcher and they even have a handy FAQ’s page that will give you all sorts of great information and you can find it here: Nova Launcher FAQ’s.

Let us know what you’d like to see next by leaving your suggestion or even your question about Nova Launcher in the comments below.

Nova Launcher Prime
Nova Launcher Prime
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