For those of you who own an Android phone and use a Microsoft account or business account to run Microsoft apps and services, you can bring the two worlds together with a custom launcher. Microsoft Launcher, designed for Android, lets you optimize 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 to your favorite Microsoft content. That’s how it works.
First, grab your Android phone and download the Microsoft Launcher app from Google Play. Open the app and tap the Get Started button.
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The first screen will ask you if you want Microsoft Launcher to access this device’s location, a useful option if you want to check the weather or find nearby businesses and other local information. In this case, select “Exactly” or “Approximately” and then “While using the app” or “Just this time”. If not, select Don’t allow. The app will then ask for permission to access your photos and media (illustration 1).
Next, select your phone’s wallpaper and opt for Bing’s daily wallpaper if you like. You will then be prompted to sign in with your Microsoft account or your work account. To get the full experience, set Microsoft Launcher as the default view (figure 2)
You can now explore your phone through your new Microsoft Launcher integration. Swipe right to view your feed of Microsoft-specific widgets. By default, the Widgets screen can show you your calendar appointments, to-do lists, 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 your work/school account. If you have both types of accounts, you can sign in with each separately. All related content from your Microsoft account or work/school account or from Windows is now synced to your phone (figure 3).
Swipe down on the feed to see each card and widget. Your calendar shows all your upcoming appointments, your to-do list shows upcoming tasks, and the Sticky Notes card shows all the sticky notes you’ve created in Windows. Frequently used apps and recent documents are displayed, as are screen time settings, recent activities and Microsoft rewards. Tap a specific app, document, or other item to open it (figure 4).
Next you can customize your feed. Swipe down on the screen and tap the edit button for this view. Uncheck any widgets you don’t want to see. Tap the Add Widget button, then add any you want to see on your feed (Figure 5).
Besides adding widgets to the feed, you can also add them elsewhere on the home screen. Swipe left. Long-press an empty area, then tap the Add widgets icon. Set up the new widget and position it anywhere available (Figure 6).
As a next step, you’ll probably want to install any Microsoft apps you want to use on your phone. On your home screen, tap the Microsoft folder to open it, then tap any apps you want to install. Tap an installed app to use it, sign in with its account, and then select any document or other file you want to view or edit (Figure 7).
Change your wallpaper if you want something different. Long press on an empty area of the home screen and select the change wallpaper icon. Select a new picture, then decide whether you want it to appear on your home screen, lock screen, or both (Figure 8).
With your feed, widgets, and apps all set up, now it’s time to customize other features and aspects of the Microsoft Launcher.
Tap the launcher app on the home screen or long press on an empty area and select the launcher settings icon. On the settings screen, the system settings category takes you to the Android settings for your phone. In the wallpaper category, you can change the wallpaper.
Tap the theme category to change the theme between dark and light, adjust opacity, enable a blur effect, and use an accent color. Choose the Home screen category and you can customize the size and layout of Home screen icons and the appearance of folders (Figure 9).
On the Settings screen, select the Dock category to determine if and how you want the Dock to appear at the bottom of the screen. Next, select the App Drawer category to tweak the options for the app drawer that appears when you swipe up on the screen (Figure 10).
Return to the settings screen and select the Gestures category. Here you can create your own custom gestures to set what happens when you tap the home button, swipe up or down with one or two fingers, double-tap, pinch, or pinch out. In the feed category you can determine which articles appear in your feed. In the “Search” category you can control the search options (Figure 11).
To back up your Microsoft Launcher customizations, select the Backup and restore category. You can then restore your customizations from the backup. Finally, in the advanced settings category, you can reset the launcher to default settings or even switch to a different Android launcher (Figure 12).