It is pretty apparent that the team at Android has put quite a bit of effort into making their home screen for Android TV both attractive and usable, but everyone is different and has different preferences, so there is going to come a point when you will want to customize.
Customizing your Android TV home screen isn’t quite as easy as adjusting it on your Android smartphone when you can just drag and drop things into different places. That’s why we are going to take you through the various steps for customizing the different elements of your Android TV box home screen.
The processes that we describe might look a bit different on different brands of Android TV box, but it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out for yours from these instructions.
Take note. We are going to look at how you can play with the different elements of the standard Android TV launcher. If you would like to download and install an alternative launcher, you can do that too. Find our instructions and recommendations for the best Android TV launchers here.
Focusing On Favorites
Over time you might find yourself downloading scores of apps for your Android TV box. You might get yourself one-off apps for watching a certain program, plus apps for checking your internet speed, or the occasional game, but while you might have 50 apps on your Android TV box, you probably only use 5-10 of them on a regular basis. You will probably want these front and center on your home screen.
The Android TV home screen does come with a Favorites channel, but you will have to add things to it to make it work for you.
If you enter the favorites channel and scroll along to the left, you will find a plus icon that gives you the option to add apps to your favorites. Simply click on it, and a list of all the native Android apps installed on your TV box will come up. Scroll down to find the apps that you want and click on them to add them to Favorites.
Note that you won’t be able to add any apps that you have sideloaded onto your Android TV box to Favorites. If this is important to you, you may need to download an alternative launcher.
You can move the position of your favorites in their row by long-clicking on the app icon. This will open a dropdown menu that lets you open the app, remove it from your favorites, or move its position from side to side. Once it is where you want it, just click on the back button to get back to browsing.
Choose Your Channels
As well as the Favorites channel that lets you navigate to your most-used apps quickly, the Android home screen will appear with a variety of other channel rows. You can also customize which of these appear on your home screen and in what order.
To customize these channels, scroll to the bottom of your home screen where you will find a discreet Customize Channels button. When you click on this, it will open up a list of all the possible channels that you can put on your home screen.
Channels are linked to the apps that you install. For example, if you have installed Netflix, you will be able to put a Netflix channel on your home screen. You will also notice that some apps have more than one channel. For example, if you have YouTube, you will notice that you have multiple channel options to choose from.
If that app only has one channel, you can easily enable or disable it with a toggle switch. If there are multiple channels, you will have to click on it first to see which channels are available, and you can then choose which of those you would like to appear on your home screen.
Newly-enabled channels will automatically appear at the bottom of your channels list, but with the exception of the Favorites and Play Next channels which always appear at the top, you can easily move your channels up and down.
To move a channel, long left click on the d-pad while you are in the channel. This will open up a drop-down menu with a move option. Use the arrows to move the channel up and down, and then simply hit the back button when you are done.
If you want to remove a channel, press all the way left on the channel row and you will see a remove button. You can always add it back again later using the steps that we have described.
Add Preview Videos
Some apps allow you to preview videos in the channels without you having to open the app. This used to be standard on Android TV boxes, but this feature was disabled a few years ago. Apparently more people disliked this feature than liked it, but you can activate this feature if this is something that you like.
Simply head to the settings menu, choose device preferences, and then go to the home screen. There you will see that you can toggle on or off video and audio previews. There is also a link to the Customize Channel menu that we already looked at, but aside from this you will notice that there aren’t many home screen options there.
Personalize Your Screen Saver
When you leave the TV on but you aren’t using it, what do you find yourself staring at? This is something that you can customize as well. Again head to settings, then device preferences, and this time enter screen saver.
The first menu option that you will see is backdrop. You can change this to any of the backdrops that come with the device, or any that you have installed from elsewhere. You can also elect to turn the screen off rather than use a screen saver at all if you prefer.
Depending on the screen saver that you choose, you may find yourself presented with a few additional options.
You will also find options here for when the screen saver activates. You can choose how long to wait before starting the screen saver when you are inactive on your device. You can also choose how long to let the screen saver use up energy and when to send your device to sleep. You can also choose whether to leave the screen active or not when you are playing music.
Should You Install An Alternative Android TV Launcher?
That is actually about the limit of what you can do when it comes to customizing the home screen, also known as the launcher, that comes standard with Android. You can’t change the overall setup of the home screen or even the background image. If you want to do that, you are going to need to install an alternate Android TV launcher.
Most launchers come with a standard setup, so you have to shop around for the launcher that has the features that you want. For example, you can choose a launcher that gives you a bottom ribbon, leaving plenty of real estate open for a personal background picture. Or you can choose something with a round menu so that you can toggle around your options without using lots of space on your screen.
You will find our recommendations for the best alternative Android TV launchers here.
Most people are pretty happy with the standard Android TV home screen. It is designed to be attractive and user-friendly, but not everyone knows what you can do to optimize your home screen to make it even better for you personally. We’ve gone through step-by-step all the things that you can do to optimize your home screen.
You will notice that there aren’t actually that many things that you can do. Android’s interface is pretty strictly controlled for usability reasons, so you can’t mess with everything, but one thing that is certainly missing — and that Android will hopefully address in future iterations — is the ability to add your own background images.
If you want to change your background image or take more control of where icons sit and how menus work, you need to download an alternative launcher. This creates a skin on top of the Android system that gives you more customization options.
Do you like to customize your home screen? What are your secrets? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.