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How to: Change Your Galaxy Nexus Soft Keys to Customized Colors or Versions

Many of you noticed the sexy new blue soft keys that my Galaxy Nexus was rockin’ and asked for instructions on how to do it. By no means is the process difficult, but it does take a little bit of time the first try. Once you get it down, you can swap out soft keys in minutes and will soon be testing them all to get that perfect fit for your setup.

The instructions I pulled from XDA‘s soft key mod post allows you do this on your device and not have to attach yourself to a computer. There are other sets of instructions for computer-based methods, but this one just seemed the easiest for those of us on the go.

Let’s get to it!  

Instructions:

*Note 1 – To my knowledge, you HAVE to be on a deodexed ROM in order to perform this. This cannot be done on a stock, rooted Nexus. Then again, some in the comments are claiming to have done it, so proceed at your own risk if you aren’t running a custom ROM.

  1. Download and install Root Explorer from the Market.
  2. Make a full nandroid backup in recovery, then reboot your phone. (Safety in case something happens)
  3. Download the soft key mod you like from this XDA thread.
  4. Open Root Explorer and navigate to /system/app/, find SystemUI.apk, long press, and select “Extract.” Go to the folder sdcard/speedsoftware/extracted and make sure you have a folder that’s called SystemUI.
  5. If the folder is there navigate to where you downloaded the chosen softkeymod (usually sdcard/download) and long press it. Select “Extract all.” Go to sdcard/speedsoftware/extracted and there should be a folder with the name of the softkeymod you just extracted.
  6. Click on this folder, and also on the next. Hit the menu key and press ‘Multi Select’. Highlight all the images included in the folder and select ‘Copy’ at the bottom. Navigate back to the SystemUI folder, go to SystemUI/res/drawable-xhdpi and ‘Paste’ here. A command prompt should pop up asking to replace the current images. Select ‘Yes For All’.
  7. In some instances, you may also have to move some icons into SystemUI/res/drawable-hdpi as well. You will know if you finish this, reboot and not all of your soft keys are themed.
  8. Go back to the sdcard/speedsoftware/extracted folder, long press the SystemUI folder and select ‘Create ZIP’
  9. Rename the created SystemUI.zip to SystemUI.apk and move the SystemUI.apk to your /system/app folder. Change permissions of SystemUI.apk to rw-r–r–
  10. Reboot your Galaxy Nexus (pull battery out and reboot, this is an essential step) and your softkeys will be modded!

*Note 2 – During step 9, if you start to see your phone force close before you can change permissions, do not freak out. I was able to battery pull, reboot, and then head back into Root Explorer to adjust permissions. Also, since we created a backup at the beginning, we can always jump back into recovery and revert back to 5 minutes prior if we would like.

Here are a couple of screenshots to help you with the process:

  

  

You can find a variety of soft key mods at this XDA thread.

*Note 3 – For those asking about the text icons I have for Gmail, Gtalk, Phone and Camera, you can download them here. They are simple text icons that I made using Roboto font and a 200×200 transparent background. In order to use custom icons, you need to switch to a launcher that allows for them such as Nova Launcher.

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