August 23, 2010 | by Lars Aronsson
LauncherPro has quickly become one of the most popular homescreen replacements for Android, and it’s easy to see why. The app is highly customizable, and since its debut on the Market back in May the developer Federico Carnales has managed to impress with each new update. About a month ago he decided to singlehandedly make his own versions of the HTC widgets one by one (for Plus users only) – a bold move, and so far he has been able to pull it off.
With all the extra functionality LauncherPro offers, it can however be somewhat difficult to know how to make the most of the app, especially for those who are used to the HTC or vanilla Android launcher. Here are 11 12 ways to take advantage of LauncherPro’s growing number of features.
1. Utilize the Dock Swipe Gestures
LauncherPro lets you assign an action to an upward or downward swipe gesture over any of the shortcuts in the dock. For example, you can tell LauncherPro to take you directly to the screen where you keep your bookmarks widget when you swipe over the Browser icon, to add a new contact when you swipe over the Contacts icon, or dial a specific number when you swipe over the Phone icon.
I have always thought that it’s too inconvenient to pinch the screen to bring up the homescreen previews since it requires an extra hand, but with swipe gestures they can be accessed super quick with your thumb, which is what I like most about them. You can set a swipe gesture for a shortcut by longpressing it and selecting Swipe gesture action from the resulting menu.
2. Change the Dock Background
You can change the dock background (or remove it), from Preferences > Appearance Settings > Dock background. Custom images are supported, and there are sites dedicated to LP dock backgrounds such as LauncherPro Icons.
3. Use Three Docks
The dock at the bottom of the screen is scrollable to the left and right, and you can add two extra docks which you can fill with shortcuts to apps you use often. This is an excellent way to free up space on your homescreen. Set the number of docks from Preferences > Dock Settings > Number of docks, and be sure to use the Loop scrolling option as well.
4. LauncherPro Lets You Link to Anything
The LP Shortcuts feature that was introduced in the latest version of LauncherPro initially left many users puzzled, myself included, as Carnales failed to explain exactly why these new shortcuts were better than the existing ones. The app could already create links to activities, i.e. specific screens within apps, but the LP Shortcuts take this a step further.
Some screens within apps require extra info to be passed, and this is where the LP Shortcuts come in. They basically provide greater flexibility, since you can create a shortcut that opens X and proceeds to do Y. In other words they let you link to anything on your Android, at least in theory. Since LP Shortcuts are actual files, they can also be shared and stored.
To create LP Shortcuts you have to use the web-based LauncherPro Shortcut Creator tool, and they should be stored in a folder in the root of your SD card called lpshortcuts. This thread in the LauncherPro forum is dedicated to LP Shortcuts.
A few shortcut examples:
Go to the Facebook Wall (official app):
Add a new contact:
Compose new Gmail:
Switch to a particular LauncherPro homescreen:
Package name: com.fede.launcher
Class name: com.fede.launcher.Launcher
Add an Extra:
Value: the number of the screen to switch to
5. Resize Widgets as You See Fit
LauncherPro lets you resize any widget. Just longpress the widget you want to alter and release it. You will then see a gray border around the widget: grab the bottom-right corner, and when you’re done resizing, press the Back button to trigger the change. This is a great way to fit more shortcuts and widgets on your homescreen. In the example below, I have resized the default Android music widget so I can add the internal storage widget next to it.
6. Scrollable Widgets
Many of HTC’s widgets are scrollable, such as the Friend Stream, but it’s not supported in the Sense or stock Android launcher for regular widgets. LauncherPro adds support for scrollable widgets, such as Pure Messenger. You can activate this option from Preferences > General Settings > Enable scrollable widgets.
7. Extra Eye Candy
You can control the speed of LauncherPro’s visual effects from Preferences > Advanced Settings > Opening speed. You may also activate the 3D drawer option from Preferences > Advanced Settings > Use 3D drawer. The 3D drawer is flashy, but perhaps a bit less useful than the regular one.
8. Hide Apps You Never Use
Got bloatware on your device that you can’t uninstall? You can hide undesired apps in the app drawer from Preferences > General Settings > Hidden Apps.
9. Use 5-Icon Homescreen Rows
This is one of my favorite features, since it enables an extra row for icons and widgets on each homescreen. Since the default launcher has so much white space, it doesn’t look that crowded. You can activate this option from Preferences > Advanced Settings > 5 Icon rows in homescreen. If you use this feature, you may want to enable the Stretch 4-row widgets option as well.
10. Increase the Number of Drawer Columns
With additional columns in the app drawer, you don’t have to scroll as far to reach your apps, since more icons can be displayed simultaneously. You can set the number of drawer columns from Preferences > Advanced Settings > Drawer columns portrait / landscape.
11. Remove Shortcut Labels
When you remove the icon labels (Preferences > Appearance Settings > Hide icon labels) you get a much cleaner and more stylish homescreen, but you naturally have to be able to identify shortcuts solely by their icons.
12. Update: Drop to Uninstall
I somehow failed to include my favorite LauncherPro feature, next to the swipe gestures: drop to uninstall. It’s something I have wanted to be able to do since I got my first Android device, and I think it ought to be a native Android feature. It’s incredibly convenient: if you longpress a shortcut or a widget and then drag it to the trashcan at the bottom of the screen and hold it there for awhile, a caption saying “Drop to uninstall” will appear. Let go of it and the app will be uninstalled.