How to add widgets to your Android home screen

Don't settle for a standard grid of icons—add live information or quick actions to make your Android device more lively and useful.

android widgets
Credit: Derek Walter

The ability to add widgets to your home screen is one of those standout Android features that’s been around since the early days. Widgets are an excellent way to truly customize your home screen to your needs, by presenting live, continually updating information or gateways to specific tasks. 

But you’ve got to get them there first. Here’s how.

Find a space

First, touch and hold an open space on your home screen. You’ll see an option at the bottom of the screen to view the widgets drawer, which is where they dwell until summoned for duty.

add a widget

Select the Widgets drawer, and then browse through the smorgasbord of choices.

Keep in mind that the layout could look different depending on which launcher you’re running. Recently the Google Now Launcher switched to a scrolling format and grouped the widgets more closely together, which makes it much easier to browse than the previous method which collated them across multiple pages. Some custom skins like TouchWiz even group the widgets in a handy categorization format, so pay attention to the layout for your particular device.

Next, touch and hold the specific widget you want. It will then become transparent and you can drag it to any open space on one of your home screens.

insert widget

Once you’ve chosen a widget, choose where you want it to go.

A screen needs to have sufficient room (some widgets are large, with a 4x2 layout), otherwise you’ll need to first relocate some apps before you can place a widget.

Action!

Another concept to keep in mind is that, along with widgets that update with live information like the weather, sports, or news, some can trigger a specific action. 

actions

You can fill up your home screen with all sorts of useful actions.

For example, you can place a Compose button for Gmail or pin a link to a specific Dropbox folder. When you install an app from the Play Store the widget options will appear in the drawer, so it’s worth exploring these to see if there’s some extra functionality you want to have at the ready on your home screen.

The key is to experiment and see what works best for you. This will give you a more personalized setup that will have you zipping through tasks with ease.

This story, "How to add widgets to your Android home screen" was originally published by Greenbot.

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