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May 5, 2018

The invisible home screen: an ultra minimal theme and excellent prank

by John_A

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This theme pulls double duty as a mind-blowing trick and testament to Android’s customizable beauty.

There are few themes that are quite as flexible and adaptable as what I like to call the “invisible” home screen. It’s a theme that could only exist on Android, and it is both high art and farce. It is both a prank and a functional beauty. Setting up this theme is quite easy, it can work with just about any wallpaper, and it’s like turning your home screen into a fun little magic trick.

This is the invisible home screen, and here’s how you can pull it off.

There are two methods to utilize in this theme — completely clear app icons and gesture launcher shortcuts — and while the former is available on almost any launcher that allows custom icons, the latter is a little harder to come by. In the interest of expediency, we’re going to give you instructions for this theme in our two favorite theming launchers: Nova Launcher and Action Launcher.

Whichever launcher you use, you’ll need this blank png to set all of your home screen icons to.

  • Picking a wallpaper
  • How to set a clear app icon in Nova Launcher
  • How to set a clear app icon in Action Launcher
  • How to turn off app labels in Nova Launcher
  • How to turn off app labels in Action Launcher
  • How to activate gesture controls in Nova Launcher
  • How to activate gesture controls in Action Launcher

Picking a wallpaper

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This theme is wonderful because you can use literally any wallpaper you want. Use an ultra-minimalist wallpaper, use a completely chaotic wallpaper, use a photo of your kids; use whatever you like. The important thing to remember with your wallpaper is that you’re going to be using the wallpaper to gauge where your icons are on the screen. So if you use a wallpaper with a lot of distinct elements in it, you can use those elements to signify your shortcuts. On a minimal wallpaper, you’ll have to rely more on muscle memory and your knowledge of your home screen’s app grid.

Need some help finding a new wallpaper?

How to set a clear app icon in Nova Launcher

Long-press an app shortcut on your home screen.
Tap Edit or the pencil icon in the menu that appears.

Tap the icon square to edit the icon.

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Tap Gallery apps.
Tap Files.

Navigate to and select the downloaded blank .png icon.

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Tap Done.
Tap Done again.

Repeat with every app and folder on your home screen.

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How to set a clear app icon in Action Launcher

Long-press an app shortcut on your home screen.
Tap Edit.

Swipe up to reveal the app icon menu and tap My photos.

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Navigate to and select the downloaded blank .png icon.
Tap Done.

Repeat with every app and folder on your home screen.

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It’s worth noting on Action Launcher that you cannot change folder icons to custom icons the way you can on Nova Launcher. If you want to make a folder invisible on Action Launcher, you’ll first have to enable its Cover, then set the icon of the first app in your folder to invisible as well.

How to turn off app labels in Nova Launcher

Now, most launchers have app labels turned on by default, and having iconless labels floating on your home screen would ruin the invisible home screen effect. Here’s how to turn them off.

Open Nova Settings.

Tap Desktop.

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Tap Icon layout.

Tap Label to turn off app labels.

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How to turn off app labels in Action Launcher

Now, Action Launcher has app labels turned on by default, and having iconless labels floating on your home screen would ruin the invisible home screen effect. Here’s how to turn them off.

Open Action Settings.

Tap Desktop.

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Tap Text layout.

Tap Home screens to uncheck it.

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How to activate gesture controls in Nova Launcher

In order to use gestures in Nova Launcher, you must have Nova Launcher Prime, which is $4.99 and worth every single penny. Nova Prime seldom goes on sale, but if you answer surveys on Google Opinion Rewards, you should be able to pay for it that way after a few months. There are 11 gesture controls you can set for your home screen on Nova Launcher, but the three set most frequently by far are Swipe up, Swipe down, and Double tap.

You can set your gestures to any app you’d like, to a variety of Nova Launcher tasks, or you can even set shortcuts like direct dialing or a Tasker task. Once you decide what you want your gestures to do, here’s how to assign them.

Open Nova Settings.

Tap Gestures & inputs.

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Tap the gesture you want to assign.

Select the app, shortcut, or Nova action you wish to assign.

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How to activate gesture controls in Action Launcher

Like Nova, gestures are a paid feature on Action Launcher, meaning you’ll need to pay for Action Launcher Plus. Plus is an in-app upgrade, priced at $4.99, and if you’re a long-time Action Launcher user, you probably invested in Plus a long time ago. Action Launcher sets you set 12 gesture controls to an App, a Shortcut, or an Action.

Open Action Settings.
Tap Shortcuts.

Tap the gesture section you wish to assign.

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Tap the gesture you wish to assign.

Select the *app, shortcut, or Action you wish to assign.

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Your turn

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Is your invisible home screen a thing of precision and minimalism? Is it chaos that only you can navigate? Did it freak out your girlfriend when she saw your home screen was empty? Tell us in the comments.

Updated May 2018: This excellent theme has been cleaned up and polished like the precious gem of a theme it is.

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