When the Android home screen disappears, we want to retrieve it promptly. This surprises no one—after all, we spend a lot of time staring at it daily. The problem with lost app layout is especially worrisome for users obsessed with aesthetics. Imagine spending hours, even days color coding, creating folders, picking icons, rearranging apps, only to have the home screen layout disappear overnight. Though undoubtedly devastating, we’re happy to report it may not be permanent. Well, unless you performed a factory reset without a backup. With that said, let’s get into how to restore a home screen on Android.
1. Restore home screen layout on Android via Settings
Unlike Apple’s iOS, which has a marked option that restores the default app drawer layout if you ever need it to, Android does not. Instead, you have to think about the issue from a different perspective. Now, this largely depends on the version of Android, and many are pretty old. Additionally, method 2 replaced the steps below with cloud storage. With that in mind, here’s what to do depending on the medium:
It’s genuinely hard to demonstrate the procedure on all Android versions released to date. Things changed a lot, and we’ve quickly forgotten how things looked. Thus, we’ll try to come up with a general method that, with a little digging around, should nonetheless net results. Let’s begin.
At and around Android 4.4
Android versions at and close to KitKat are likely to have this option for restoring the default home screen layout:
- Tap the Settings app.
- Find the Apps or Applications/Application Manager option.
- Scroll down to tap Advanced to expand the list. Also, try to swipe left to see if you can move to the tab named “All”. The goal is to find an app named Home screen or Launcher with an Android logo.
- Once you do, tap the button Clear defaults under “Launch by Default”.
- Because none of the launchers is no longer active, simply tap the Home button at the bottom of your phone (digital or physical, depending on your device).
- Android will ask you to “Complete action using…” so tap the option that looks like a stock launcher.
- Tap on Always instead of “Just once”.
Versions close to Android Oreo 8.0 and later
Things changed drastically close to the Android 8.0 Oreo era. Google seemed to make launcher options intentionally hard to find, perhaps due to the growing popularity of third-party ones. Follow these steps to restore the Android Oreo home screen to default:
- Launch the Settings app or pull down the notification bar and tap the cogwheel icon.
- Go to Apps.
- Scroll down to find the Google App on the list.
Tip. Despite what you might think, there is no equivalent solution in the Google Now Launcher app, hence the confusion we mentioned.
- Tap on Storage in the list of options below.
- Tap the Manage Cache button.
- Select the option titled Clear Launcher Data.
- Confirm by tapping on OK.
- You’ll now receive a welcome message for setting up wallpaper, widgets, and apps on the home screen.
There’s an alternative set of steps, too. Go to Settings once again, then App. Now tap the Home app option in the “Default” section. Select Google Now Launcher (or the one you used and liked previously). It’ll gain a (Default) message to the right of its name.
Have you installed a custom launcher? If so, they are (we presume) required to feature a way to go back to the default launcher prominently. Since there’s a massive number of launchers, we can’t cover all. For demonstration, we’ll use these instructions to restore a home screen on Android from a popular app, Nova Launcher:
- After installation, an app named Nova Settings appears on the home screen. Tap it.
- Tap the Select default launcher option.
- Once it opens, pick System Launcher.
Note. Some launchers allow you to hide system apps, though not delete them. That might’ve led to initial confusion. Always check the menu (three dots or three lines or “hamburger”) for the option to conceal and show apps.
Modified Android version
Many smart devices manufacturers also modify Android to suit their needs. While it’s not feasible to cover them all, we can use Samsung phones for demonstration. Here’s how restoring to the original home screen works on Samsung smart devices:
- Head over to your phone’s Settings app.
- Scroll down and tap on Apps. Once it opens, choose Launcher.
- Select whichever launcher you’re currently using, including the default one.
- Tap the Clear Data button, then confirm.
- Return to the home screen to check results.
One thing to note
Samsung Galaxy Note users may experience all their home screen apps go missing suddenly. In most cases, they were hidden by a setting. To fix that:
- Press and hold an empty area on your home screen.
- Tap the cogwheel icon below “Home screen settings”.
- Tap on Apps.
- Pick the Show App Buttons option.
- Confirm by tapping Apply.
2. Download home screen apps and layout from a backup
You may have noticed we failed to mention Android 10, 11, and 12 above. That stems from the superiority and convenience of free cloud backups Android offers, as well as a multitude of third-party options. We already went over ways to restore an Android phone from a Google backup. Your apps and their layout are part of the package. Moreover, to showcase how third-party solutions work, here’s an offline method to restore the Android home screen:
Some manufacturers not only offer a cloud service but also a specialized application. We will use Samsung to demonstrate this yet again. Here’s how that works:
- Download and install Good Lock from the Galaxy Store or the Play Store.
- Move on to downloading and installing the Home Up app from the same locations.
- Open Good Lock and pick “Home Up” on the first screen that comes up.
- You’ll be redirected to the “Home Up” starting screen. Select Backup and Restore and toggle the switch in front of the eponymous option on.
- Select “Frequency” (default is 1 backup daily) and tap on Immediate to backup right away,
- You’ll now see a screenshot of the home screen layout under “File list”. The visibility limit is 20 home screens at any given time.
Note. The two applications store files in a hidden folder on your internal storage, not the cloud. Therefore, we suggest making a manual cloud backup occasionally.