Those of you who own an Android phone and use a Microsoft account or work account to run Microsoft apps and services can bring the two worlds together with a custom launcher. Designed for Android, Microsoft Launcher lets you change the design and layout of your phone’s home screens for quick access to your Microsoft apps, documents, calendar, contacts, sticky notes, and more.
Beyond setting up Microsoft-related wallpapers, themes, and widgets, you can create specific gestures to tap and swipe your way to your favorite Microsoft content. Here’s how it works.
First, take your Android phone and download the Microsoft Launcher app from Google Play. Open the app and press the Start button.
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The first screen asks if you want Microsoft Launcher to access this device’s location, a useful option if you want to get the weather or find nearby businesses and other local information. If so, choose Accurate or Approximate and select When using the app or Only this time. Otherwise, select Don’t allow. The app then asks for permission to access your photos and media (Figure 1).
Then choose your phone’s wallpaper, choosing to choose Bing’s daily wallpaper if you want. You are then prompted to sign in with your Microsoft account or work account. To get the full experience, set Microsoft Launcher as the default skin (Figure 2)
Now you can explore your phone through your new Microsoft Launcher integration. To see your feed with Microsoft-specific widgets, swipe right. By default, the widgets screen can show you your calendar appointments, to-do list, sticky notes, apps, documents, screen time, and recent activities.
Tap the Sign in button at the top to sign in with your Microsoft account or work/school account. If you have both types of accounts, you can log in with each separately. Any associated content from your Microsoft account or work/school account or Windows will now be synced to your phone (picture 3).
Swipe down the feed to see individual maps and widgets. Your calendar will show all upcoming appointments, your to-do list will show upcoming tasks, and the Sticky Notes card will show all sticky notes you’ve created in Windows. Frequently used apps and recent documents also appear, as do screen time settings, recent activities and Microsoft rewards. Tap a specific app, document, or other item to open it (Figure 4).
Then you can customize your feed. Swipe down the screen and tap the Edit this view button. Uncheck any widgets you don’t want to see. Tap the Add Widget button, then add anything you want to see in your feed (Figure 5).
In addition to adding widgets to the feed, you can add them anywhere else on the home screen. Swipe left. Long press on any blank area, then tap the icon to Add Widgets. Configure and position the new widget anywhere available (Figure 6).
In the next step, you’ll probably want to install any Microsoft apps you plan to use on your phone. On your home screen, tap the Microsoft folder to open it, then tap the apps you want to install. Tap an installed app to use it, sign in with the associated account, then select any document or other file you want to view or edit (Picture 7).
Change your wallpaper if you want something different. Long press any empty area on the home screen and select the icon to change the wallpaper. Select a new image, then decide whether you want it to appear on your home screen, your lock screen, or both (Figure 8).
With your feed, widgets, and apps set up, it’s now time to customize other features and aspects of Microsoft Launcher.
Tap the Launcher app on the home screen or long press on any empty area and select the launcher settings icon. On the settings screen, the System Settings category takes you to your phone’s Android settings. The Wallpaper category allows you to change the wallpaper.
Tap the Themes category to change the theme between dark and light, adjust opacity, enable a blur effect, and use an accent color. Select the category for the home screen and you can change the size and layout of home screen icons as well as the appearance of folders (Figure 9).
Back on the settings screen, choose the category of the Dock to determine if and how you want to display the Dock at the bottom of the screen. Next, select the App Drawer category to change options for the app drawer that appears when you swipe up (Picture 10).
Return to the settings screen and select the Gestures category. Here you can create your own custom gestures to define what happens when you press the home button, swipe up or down with one finger or two fingers, double tap, pinch or pinch. The Feed category lets you determine what items appear on your feed. The Search category lets you control search options (Picture 11).
To back up your Microsoft Launcher customizations, select the Backup & Restore category. You can then restore your settings from the backup. Finally, the Advanced Settings category allows you to reset the launcher to default settings or even switch to another Android launcher (Picture 12).