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How to prevent Android apps from adding launchers to your phone's home screen

Prefer a minimalist Android home screen? Here's how to keep the app clutter at bay automatically.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on
Woman texting on Android.
Uwe Krejci/Getty

If you were to compare my Pixel 6 Pro and my wife's, you'd see a tale of two very different users. She has a home screen full of launchers, whereas mine is limited to a single row of folders at the bottom (which is the default for Android 13). I only have my most-used apps in those folders and access other apps from within the App Drawer.

Why do I Android like this? Simple -- efficiency.

Also: Android 13 on the Pixel 6 Pro is a brilliant upgrade -- with one exception

When Android is allowed to add app launchers on the home screen (which happens by default when you install an application from the Google Play Store), it adds them in the first available spot. That means your home screen launchers are placed in random order. That can lead to confusion and a less than efficient experience.

I'm all about efficiency.

This is in polar opposition to the Android App Drawer, which keeps your app launchers organized alphabetically, which is much easier to manage. Sure, you could manually arrange those launchers, even collecting them in folders if you like. But even that can get messy.

If you're like me, you'd probably greatly benefit from a spartan Android home screen. Not only is it a much easier way to interact with Android, but it also allows that beautiful home screen wallpaper to show through. However, as I mentioned, out of the box Android is set to add those launchers to the home screen automatically.

Let's stop that from happening. 

Requirements

This feature has been around with Android for some time now, so no matter which version of the OS you are using, you should be able to achieve the results. So, as long as you have an Android device, you're good to go.

How to prevent apps from adding launchers to the home screen

The way you do this is a bit counter to what you might think. You might think the setting would be found in either Settings > Display or Settings > Apps. It's not in either. Instead of diving into the Settings app, you need to home the Home Settings app. 

1: Open Home Settings

Long press any blank space on your home screen and, in the resulting popup, tap Home Settings.

The Android home screen long-press popup.

Accessing the Home Screen Settings app from the Android home screen.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2: Disable app icons on the home screen

From the Home Settings, tap the ON/OFF slider for Add App Icons until it's in the OFF position.

The Home Screen Settings app in Android 13.

Disabling app icons on the home screen is but a tap away.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3: Remove all those icons

Once you've disabled the feature, go through your home screen and remove all the launchers. To do that you simply tap and drag a launcher to the top of the screen where it says Remove. You'll have to do this for every icon on your home screen. If you prefer, you can keep a single row of icons in folders at the bottom of the screen. Some versions of the Android home screen launcher do this by default and some do not force that issue.

homescreen3

Removing a green screen app from the Android home screen.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you've taken care of this, you'll wind up with a much cleaner Android home screen that should be more efficient to use. After all, the mobile experience should be one of ease and simplicity. When you're on the go, the last thing you need is to wind up staring, glassy-eyed, at your Android home screen in search of the app you need to use.

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