Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.
Nova has been the go-to app launcher for Android power users for the past couple of years. When it first hit the scene, Nova was famous for the sheer amount of customization options it offered.
Even in the past few updates, Nova has consistently added new features to the launcher — and it offers a lot for free. But if you’re looking for power user features like swipe gestures, custom drawer groups, hidden apps, and more, you’ll want to upgrade to Nova Launcher Prime for $4.99.
Today we’re talking about these powerful features that make Nova Prime the best overall launcher.
1. Bring Deep Linking Search to Nova With Sesame Shortcut
Android’s on-device search is far from optimal. You can try switching to a different launcher like Evie, but it might not be worth it for just one feature. Sesame shortcuts is a third-party app with native Nova Launcher integration. Once it’s linked, you’ll be able to access more than 100 different kinds of in-app shortcuts right from Nova’s search feature.
This means that when you search a contact’s name, you’ll see their WhatsApp conversation as well. Searching for something in the Play Store also becomes easy.
Sesame Shortcuts has a 14-day trial, and after that you’ll have to pay $2.99. Launch the Sesame Shortcuts app, turn on the Nova integration, and then go to Nova Settings > Integrations and turn on the search integration.
Download: Sesame Shortcuts (14-day trial, $2.99 in-app purchase).
2. Integrate Google Now Page
Getting access to the Google Now page swipe gesture isn’t easy if you’re using a third-party app launcher (after the Google Assistant rollout, it’s even more difficult). Nova launcher has a workaround to integrate the Pixel Launcher’s feature where the Google Now page integrates into the left-most page of the launcher.
You’ll need to sideload the official Nova Google Companion app first. Then go to Nova Settings > Google Now and enable the page.
Now go back to the home screen and swipe to the leftmost page. Google Now should be there.
Download: Nova Google Companion (Free)
3. Customize Swipe Gestures
As you’ll learn in this article, gestures are Nova’s forte. And they start right on the home screen. Like every other launcher, swiping down with one finger brings up Search, swiping up shows the App Drawer. But that’s just the start. You can define double-tap gestures, two-finger swipe (up and down), pinch gestures, rotate gestures, and more.
To see all the options, go to Nova Settings and select Gestures & inputs.
You can use any gesture to open an app, a shortcut, or a Nova-specific action.
4. Create a New Tab in the App Drawer
The steps for enabling this feature are a bit convoluted, but once you’ve got it setup, you’ll have multiple tabs in the app drawer, each with a different selection of apps.
To create a new tab in the App drawer, go to Nova Settings > App & widget drawers and make sure Tab bar is enabled.
Then scroll down to the Drawer groups section and tap on the Drawer groups option. Tap on the + button here to create a new tab. Tap on the Edit button next to a tab name to add apps to the new drawer.
5. Hidden Folder Swipe Gesture
Nova Prime lets you hide folders behind app icons. You can swipe up on an app to reveal a folder hidden behind it. Once enabled, the first app in the folder becomes the app in the front. This can be a great way to have quick access to a pool of related apps, without messing up your meticulously crafted icon grid.
First, create the folder and add all the app icons. Tap and hold on the folder. From the Edit Folder screen, toggle the Swipe to open folder option. If you want the tap action to be something other than opening the first app in the folder, tap on the drop down below Tap action. You can select any app, shortcut, or a Nova action here.
6. Create Quick Shortcuts for App Actions
You can enable a swipe gesture for any app on the home screen. This way you can launch a related app by swiping up or enable an app-related shortcut. For instance, swiping up on the Phone app can launch the Contacts app, or swiping up on Messages app can put you in a direct message view for your significant other.
To assign a swipe gesture for an app, tap and hold on app and tap on the Swipe action section.
7. Use Android Oreo’s Notification Badges
Android Oreo brings a new style of app badges, and Nova lets you get this feature without upgrading. From Nova Settings, go to Notification Badges. From here, select Dots.
Once you’ve enabled notification access for Nova, you’ll see customization options for the dot. You can put it any corner of the app and you can choose the size.
8. Get Android Oreo’s Adaptive App Icons
Another thing Android Oreo tries to do is normalize app icons. Android has been a wild west when it comes to app icons. There has never really been a strict shape or style like with iOS. This new feature tries to bring a bit of order to app icons.
With adaptive icons setting, you can choose a background style for the icon and the app icon will adapt to it. You can choose between round, rounded square, and teardrop shapes.
From Nova Settings, select Look & Feel, and turn on Adaptive Icons. Then select Adaptive Icon style. From here, enable the reshape legacy icons section to make sure that all your icons look the same.
9. Hide Apps From Launcher
Go to Nova Settings > App and widget drawers, and from the Drawer groups section, select Hide apps.
Check off the apps you want to hide. Now when you go back to the App drawer, they’ll be gone.
To view hidden apps, tap on the app drawer tab at the top and select Show Hidden Apps.
10. Don’t Forget About Other Nova Features
As I’ve said before, Nova is choke full of customization and productivity features. Here are some really awesome features that you should try.
- When you’re in the Home screen, tap on the Home button to quickly access the Search field.
- Tap and hold app icons to reveal Nougat’s app shortcuts feature. This lets you quickly jump into a particular part of an app. From Twitter app icon, you can start a new tweet. From Gmail’s app icon, you can compose a new message.
What’s Your Launcher Setup Like?
Thanks to Nova’s support for icon packs and fluid layout, you have an empty canvas in the form of the Home screen. You can organize your apps and widgets just the way you like.
If you’re looking for more options, there are plenty of reasons to give Smart Launcher on Android a try.
Have you customized your home screen? What does it look like? Share your home screen setups with us in the comments below.