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How to: Apply Icon Packs With a 3rd Party Launcher [Beginners’ Guide]

One of the cool things we can do with our Android devices straight out of the box is download a custom launcher and then apply icon packs that will drastically change the way an application’s icon appears. Take the above screenshot for example – I have Nova Launcher installed and have Kovdev’s Tersus icon pack applied. It gives each icon a uniformed square and minimal look. It’s clean, pretty, and super easy to do. 

There’s a few steps to this process. First, you will need a 3rd party launcher such as Nova or Apex. As a note, most icon packs only support either Nova, Apex, Go Launcher, ADW, LauncherPro, and a few others. When downloading an icon pack from Google Play, you can check its compatibility in the description. Download a third party launcher of your choice and let’s get started on applying an icon pack.

Downloading and applying icon packs:

During this post, we’ll be using Nova Launcher which is our favorite. You can download it here on Google Play.

1.  Find the icon pack you want to install on Google Play.

You can see a long list of them here, but we always recommend Kovdev’s work. It’s clean and there are plenty of options to choose from.

2.  Download and install the pack you have chosen.
3.  From the homescreen, locate the Settings menu of the launcher you are using.

Since we’re using Nova, this may be slightly different from the launcher you’re using. The Settings menu is located in the top right of the app drawer while it is open. Check pictures above for clarity.

4.  Hit “Look and Feel.”
5.  Under “Icon Theme,” choose the icon pack you have downloaded.

It will then automatically apply all of the existing icons and matching apps together. And that’s it. It’s a simple and easy way to customize your device to the way you want.

Applying a single icon from a pack:

But Tim, what if I don’t want a full pack? I just want a single icon applied, how do I do that? Fantastic question and here is how to do it!

1.  Decide which icon you want to customize.
2.  Move it to a homescreen.
3.  Longpress on said icon.

Again, we are using Nova, so the instructions may differ given which launcher you are using.

4.  Hit “Edit.”
5.  Then press on the application’s icon.
6.  You will see a menu. Hit “Icon Pack.”

From here, you will see each icon that resides in the pack. You can choose whichever icon you want to use for that app on a homescreen. It will not change the app’s icon in the app drawer, but only on a homescreen where you applied it.

7.  Once selected, hit “OK.”

If you have any questions, let us know down below.

*The rest of the Android Beginners’ Guide is a one-stop shop for all of those new to Android.

  • law

    thanks, useful article for a droid convert.
    One question, i select metrostation as my icon theme, but I still have to change each icon – is there a way to apply for all common icons such as settings, clock etc?

  • Ethan

    Installed Nova this morning on my G-S3 and a couple icon packs. Everything is fantastic, except I have one question: Sometimes, when I hit the back button, it defaults to the stock TouchWiz home screen. If I then hit “home” it will return to the Nova Launcher. Is there a way I can eliminate the random, pre-Nova homepage from popping up?

    • Go into manage apps and open TouchWiz home. Tap on Clear defaults button on Launch by default. Now when you hit the home button it should ask whether you want to use Nova or Home. Check Use by default for this action and tap Nova.

  • TheJungle

    What’s the wallpaper? Pls…

  • Nice to see you guys pimping Tersus!

  • What’s the wallpaper here?

    • Pun

      anybody got a link?

  • I installed an icon pack in. It shows up in nova but when I select it, nothing happens. Any ideas?

    • Are you on Jelly Bean? It’s possible the theme developer has not updated their theme to reflect the changes necessary to work with the new encryption workaround that launchers have implemented for themes.

      • Yes, I am on Jelly Bean. I am using one of your icon packs, Flip.

        • Flip is one of the themes I have not updated as of yet. I’ll fast track that for this week.

          • Awesome. Thanks.

          • YuviDroid

            @koveleski:disqus I’ve also developed some themes and I encountered the JB bug. May I ask you what is the fix that’s needed to workaround that? Thank you!

  • Glorious. Please keep doing posts like this!

  • BTLS

    Anyone else having problems using the “Minimalist_Black – ADW” icons with APEX? I’m not sure when it started (JB?) but when I
    go to that folder using APEX to select from that theme, the background is black and so you
    can’t see anything because they are black on black!

  • Aardvark99
  • cheezer88

    i never knew how to do this, thank you

  • What icons are you using in the screenshots?

    • mickyimp

      it says it in the screen shot “tersus” if you look carefully

  • JDHokie

    I guess Nova doesn’t recognize the icon packs I’ve downloaded, because when I get to Step 5, there’s nothing to select from.

    • If the theme developer has not updated their themes to work with the new JB workaround (and you are on Jelly Bean), there’s potential the icon picker will not function correctly using Nova.

  • Dan

    hmmmmm I think I like the stock launcher better than nova.

    • Lactose_the_Intolerant

      Android = Choices.

  • jason

    i dont consider myself a beginner, but this sure makes me feel like i am. Thanks for explaining the process Tim! This and the disabling notification features were new information to me. after owning the inc, dx, and now gnex. love these! thanks again.

  • Thanks for the shoutout!

    • Love your icon sets, but I have just one complaint with Tersus and Lustre: the random background colors applied to apps not in your icon set. Would prefer that the default be black or dark grey.

      • That’s a common sentiment that we’ve been hearing and we’ll most likely be switching the automated backing to not be as colorful in a future update.

        • Hmm thats dissapointing I like the different colors, if they are all black or grey then it will be really obvious which arent themed

          • That’s a concern of mine, which is why I’ve not changed the functionality as of yet. I may try some muted colors before completely pulling them.