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How to customize your Android phone

Learn a few new tricks to organize apps and widgets better than the old “drag and drop” way, plus switch Home screen photos and ringtones like a pro.


Normally I like to use my phone to get practical stuff done way more than fussing with all the bells and whistles. I'd leave it stuck on the factory settings in most cases, because I'd rather be spending time on, say, using the phone's camera or listening to music than customizing the Home screen.

But then I started noticing all the really cool stuff on other people’s phones: waterfall wallpaper, creative ringtones and slick, high-end screen designs that make organizing everything, including apps, look easy.

As it turns out, there are some incredibly easy ways to make an Android phone look like you've spent a lot of time customizing your phone when the truth is it doesn't take long at all. Here are some cool things I did:

Add a photo to your Home and lock screens

If there's one photo I want to see every day, it's the one I took of three generations of the men in my family going fishing. Turns out it was easier to set this photo on my Home screen than it was to catch a fish.

Here’s how: From the app gallery, tap the Gallery icon. Find and tap a favorite photo. Tap More in the upper-right corner. Then, on the dropdown menu, tap Set as wallpaper. Choose to set the photo for the Home and lock screens, or choose a different photo for each screen. You can also adjust the photo to fit the frame of the phone.

Pick a new theme

Hands down, Themer: Launcher, HD Wallpaper is the most goof-proof way to make your Android phone look sleek and smarter. Plus, Themer walked me through the entire process, making it easy to access the apps I use the most.

Here’s how: Download the app. Each theme comes with its own neat icon packs. The themes are free, easy to change up and fully customizable (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Dial in a new ringtone

When a favorite band, Wilco, offered a free download of their latest album, I got it through Google Play Music. So when I perused ringtones in my Samsung Galaxy S®6 edge settings, I chose a Wilco song, “Magnetized,” for my ringtone.

Here’s how: Tap the Settings icon. Choose Sound and notification. Then, tap Ringtones and sounds. Tap Ringtones and scroll to the bottom, for “+ Add ringtone.” Tap Sound picker, a feature available on the Samsung Galaxy S6 phones, and the app automatically selects a sound clip. Sound picker already had the Wilco album loaded in the app, but you can choose a song or personal recording stored in Verizon Cloud, or Dropbox.


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