Android's folders are a great way to keep your home screens organized -- but let's face it, they aren't exactly exciting.
Android's default folder icon is a plain-looking manilla box. And when you've gone to the trouble of pimping out your home screens, it can stick out like a sore thumb.
That brings us to this week's Android Power reader question, which comes from folder-frustrated Android fan Nick C.
I know there has to be a way to change Android's folder icons, but I can't for the life of me find it. Help?
Nick's right: There is a way to change the icons -- and customize your home screens even more while you're at it. You just have to turn to a third-party app to get the job done.
Changing Android Folder Icons
Several apps exist that can help you change Android's folder icons. The one I prefer is a powerful little program called FolderOrganizer, available for free in an ad-supported version or for about $1.25 in its full-featured, ad-free form. (The barcode at right takes you to the full-featured version.) The program is a bit complex, but it can go a long way in helping you create a fresh and original look for your phone.
Now, technically, FolderOrganizer doesn't change your Android folder icons -- it lets you build new custom folders that replace your original ones. But it's the same effect in the end. And the building-from-scratch method is what lets the app inject so much rich functionality into what was such a simplistic feature.
Once you open the FolderOrganizer program, you'll want to focus on the first tab: "Labels." Those are your folders. Tap your phone's "Menu" key to create a new one, and give it whatever name you want. Then, just find your folder in the list and tap the arrow to its right to get started.
After tapping the arrow, you'll find an option to adjust the folder's layout -- you can choose from a variety of grid- and list-based configurations -- as well as an option to select what items are actually in the folder (you can add any combination of apps, bookmarks, contacts, direct call links, direct text links, direct e-mail links, and even other embedded folders). Then, of course, there's the option you've been looking for: the one to change the folder's icon.
You'll find a handful of icons on your phone by default. The coolest choices, though, come from the huge range of icons you can discover and download on your own, generally without paying a dime. Search the Android Market for "icon pack" and you'll see pages upon pages of possibilities (pretty much anything that has "icon pack" in its title will work). Any icon pack you download will automatically show up in FolderOrganizer's list.
Once you've selected your icon and gotten your new folder all set up, simply head over to your home screen and long-press on any open spot. Select "Shortcuts" from the menu that pops up, followed by "FolderOrganizer Label." Then just select your folder's name, and bingo-bango: The deed is done.
Spend some time exploring the options and finding the icons that match your style, and you'll quickly discover the possibilities are endless.
[Related: Want to track Web stats on-the-go? Check out our list of the best Google Analytics apps for Android.]