Required Time: 20 Minutes. Difficulty Level: Advanced User. Requirements: Nova Launcher.

Tired of Samsung’s Android look and feel? Even though its user interface looks compelling, you can take it up a notch by installing a different launcher, which is everything visual that you see when you’re looking at your smartphone or tablet. There are a number of great launchers available in the market. Among the most popular ones are Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher, ADW Launcher EX, and GO Launcher EX. Nova and Apex Launcher could almost be twin brothers because their features and looks are similar.

In this tutorial, we’ll present Nova Launcher as one of the most customizable launchers the Android market has to offer. Nova Launcher’s strength lies in the number of things you can tweak and change. Its strongest features are:

  • Hide app icons you don’t like such as system or carrier related apps. Nice!
  • Hide the Dock and the Notifications Bar to make room for at least 49 apps! Wow!
  • At least 15 app icons in the Dock! Swipe the Dock from left to right. Group apps together
  • Get unread items notification as a number below an app icon
  • Select any Home screen to be your main Home screen
  • Change transition effects
  • Big customization menu to fine tune the details
  • Themes available in Google Play store

Let’s take a closer look at this alternative for Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and Jelly Bean (4.x).

Step 1: Install Nova Launcher

Nova Launcher comes in a free and a paid version (Nova Launcher Prime). The paid version has additional features but before you spend your money, first install the free version to see whether you like it. In case you prefer the paid version right away, you have 15 minutes to get a refund on it if you don’t like it. In that case, just go back to the purchasing page and the refund button will be there. If it doesn’t appear, it means you’ve passed the 15 minutes time frame for refunds.

nova launcher installation

Step 2: Familiarize with Nova Actions

Action: Long-press the Home screen. Tap on Nova Actions.

From here you can add cool Nova Launcher actions as icons to your Home screen. We’ll go through some of them in the following steps:

nova launcher actions menu

Step 3: Make room for at least 49 apps

One of the unique features of Nova Launcher is that you can hide the dock and the notifications bar and then change the Desktop size to make room for at least 49 apps if you like.


Action: Tap on Toggle Notifications Bar and then get back into Nova Actions and tap on Toggle Dock.

This places both icons on the Home screen. When you tap them, it launches the action. So tap on both. If you want to reverse the action, just tap on them again.


nova launcher hide notifications bar and dock

Next, let's increase the size of the Desktop Grid.

Action: Press the Menu button and then Nova Settings > Desktop > Desktop Grid and change it to 7 x 7.

This allows you to place up to 49 apps on any Home screen. If you move one app over another, it groups the two into a folder. This way you can even add more apps if you like! If you don’t need this much space, change the Desktop Grid back to 5 x 4.

nova launcher desktop grid 7x7 for 49 apps

Step 4: Add icons to the Dock

Action: Swipe the Dock to the left until you see more space for icons.

Now you can drag any icon from the Home screen to the Dock. You can also drag icons over another, which groups them together. This way you can even add more icons if you like.

nova launcher add icons

Step 5: Hide unwanted icons

This feature is truly a great one and is only available in the paid version. When a carrier puts all his apps on the device, this is called bloatware. You cannot uninstall these apps unless you hack the device with a new firmware or special root apps. But Nova Launcher can at least hide the icons for you, which is the next best thing to do. You can also hide system icons and any other icons that you can normally not remove. In this case, I removed all the annoying T-Mobile branded apps and anything I never use from the app drawer. How cool is that!

Action: Press the Menu key and then Nova Settings > Drawer > Hide Apps.


Next, check mark all of the apps you wish to hide from the app drawer and they’ll be gone. 

nova launcher hide apps

Step 6: Get unread item notifications

If you have the paid version, you can have a small number appear below icons, telling you that there is something unread.

Action: Press the Menu button and then go to Nova Settings > Unread Counts > TeslaUnread Settings.

Install the TeslaUnread Settings app, which makes this feature work in Nova Launcher. Once you open the plugin, you can determine for what things you’d like a notification as a number below an app.

nova launcher tesla unread

Step 7: Familiarize with Nova Settings

Nova Launcher is incredibly versatile. You can customize about anything on your Samsung Galaxy. There are really too many features to list here. Take a few minutes and play around with the features in Nova Settings.


Action: Press the Menu key, then tap Nova Settings and go through the features as you wish.


nova launcher settings

Step 8: Install a theme

With themes for Nova Launcher, you can turn your Samsung Galaxy into an eye catching device. Many of the themes in the Google Play store are actually compatible with multiple launchers. Here are just twelve examples of the hundreds of themes available in the Google Play store:


Action: Open Google Play store and search for “Nova launcher theme” and install what you like.


nova launcher themes

Nova Launcher is a great alternative for the Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android look on a Samsung Galaxy device. It impresses with a huge selection of customizable features that let you tweak the looks, transitions, and app drawer and Home screen features. Nova Launcher’s extended Dock and the Desktop Grid let you create a great number of app icon combinations. But you’ll have to decide yourself whether you want to spend the $4 to get the Prime version. I think it is well worth the money!

What other launchers have you tried and what’s your opinion? Let us know below!