My absolute favorite thing to do after buying a new phone, aside from ripping all of the plastic off and making as much noise as possible, is setting the device up. I'm not talking about logging into all of my accounts and downloading all of the different applications I had on the previous device. That part is repetitive, boring and painstakingly annoying. No, I'm talking about getting to setup my home screens again.

Whether it's a new device or a phone I already own that I've decided to wipe and start fresh on – maybe by flashing a new ROM – I put a lot of thought and time into my home screen layout. It's like planning the layout of the furniture in your home right after moving into a new place – without all of the heavy lifting, of course. Much like the sofa and your enormous television should be strategically placed facing one another, you want to make sure your folders, icons and widgets (if applicable) are laid out in an efficient and visually pleasing manner.

If your most commonly used apps aren't easily accessible from the home screen, you may find yourself fumbling through several pages of applications just to find and launch one. And without the proper use of widgets (on Android at least), you will likely waste time launching applications instead of being able to quickly read at-a-glance information from the home screen.

I guess you could say it's like a personalized puzzle of sorts. Each device and each platform gets its own layout treatment based on how I use it.

My Android tablet's interface, for instance, is filled with lots of huge widgets and tons of folders. My main home screen displays the current weather and forecast, date, time, location and battery stats for the tablet and dock. And I have an array of folders, shortcuts for all of my most frequently used applications – there is a folder for my different app stores, browsers, games and instant messaging services. Swipe to the home screen to the left and you will find all of my productivity and entertainment tools. There I have folders for all of my RSS readers, cloud storage clients, music services, note taking apps, photo editing software and file explorers. There are also a couple widgets like a task manager, browser bookmarks and for cloud services. Lastly, to the far right home screen, I have my communication and scheduling information: a Google Voice widget, several Gmail widgets and the Calendar widget.

Despite using tons of widgets and always being on the prowl for new ones, I rarely ever use them. I will look at ones like the weather and time for reference. But with widgets like Google Reader or Gmail, I generally just use them to open the full app rather than reading the scrollable feeds from the home screen.

The home screen layout for my Nexus is very similar, just modified and condensed for the smaller display. There are fewer widgets and folders per home screen, but to the left is entertainment while the home screen to the right is productivity. I do this so the switch between them isn't too radical.

For my iPhone, however, things are quite different and much less organized. Unlike my Android devices' home screens, which generally switched around every few weeks, I haven't changed the layout of my iPhone's home screen since May of 2011. Instead of having a rhyme or reason, I've just let it go and try to remember where everything is. I use tons of folders for all similar or related applications. And if I download an application that I think I will use fairly often, I will make room for it on the first home screen. Other than that, applications just tend to pile up on more and more home screens, and I remember where they are. Nothing fancy here.

I don't currently use any Windows Phone devices. But when I did, I remember that I never felt remotely enticed to change the home screen around. Customization options are minimal and I would just use it exactly as it came out of the box. There is definitely room for improvement and a lot that can be done with Metro UI, but I never felt compelled to customize it any of the times I used it.

Interestingly enough, I used to spend more time on arranging the home screen than anything else when I was using a BlackBerry. I would actually take the time to create my own themes that catered to my icon layouts. A theme would take me anywhere from an hour to a couple days to perfect, depending on how in-depth I would make it, and I would usually make several per month. I guess you could say I was a bit anal about how my BlackBerry's home screen looked.

The worst part is that I'm a tad OCD. Like I said, I try my best to setup my home screen the same exact way it was on my last phone every time I buy a new one. But it never seems to work out that well. That said, I literally will not use the device until I feel that every icon and widget is exactly where it should be.

What I'm interested in, though, is how you guys and gals setup your home screens. Do you just use it as it is and kind of set it up as you go? Or, like me, do you obsess over how the icons and widgets are laid out and constantly find yourself rearranging them? If you want to share yours with me, shoot your screen captures to me on twitter (@PhoneDog_Taylor).

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39 Reactions to this post

"How do you like your homescreens?"

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Fonzy Paniagua Weathet widget on the homescreen, simply beautiful <3
Emmanuel Castro As minimalistic as possible... simple
Eduardo Ordaz @mason Yep.
Mason Hartley iPhone users stop trolling, customization doesn't exist on the iPhone. I'm glad to hear you got a background considering Apple took 3 years I would be too.
Philip Young Keath I like mine with no icons and with my pic staring back at me. Yes i am vain ha!
Michael Santangelo I mainly just switch launchers a lot. I am very organized when I make my home screens though.
Frank Porter You make way too much out of this, as you do most things Taylor. It's a freakin' phone for crying out loud. Pick a backround, select some widgets and folders and be done with it. Wow lol!
Marti Ruiz Weather and a beatiful clock widget and my favorites apps
Angel Jewels I can't stand setting up a new phone. I cringe every time they ask me to do a complete system restore. I am just grateful that I have a phone that I am happy with. Sensation... Cause before this phone I switched phones often and had to go through the set up process and learning curve every few months. Now that I have a phone I am happy with, I have it set up just the way I like, and I dont mess with it.
Brain Roopull I don't like changing mine around. I want it to be usable, quick and dependable. I never want to pull out my phone and have to wonder where an app is... that's a waste of time. I used to make one homescreen for work, one for weekends and one for basic phone functions sandwiched betewwn them. Now, with Go Launcher, I only have two homescreens and apps & "direct call" shortcuts in the scrollable folders at the bottom. The app folders are grouped by categories that make sense to me... email apps, internet apps, multimedia apps, market/shopping apps, games... etc. Then there are two direct call folders... one for work & one for friends.
Andrew Martin iPhone hase good layout
Christina Kirsopp Chikuni I use GO launcher ex, with a clock and weather widget, and a calengoo widget.
Travis Peterson Main home page has NO icons. The pix of my kids is there.
Warren Saunders News widgets on my favorite tech and ps3 stuff
Mark MacCurrie My sensation xl is an absolute beast!
Mark MacCurrie HTC clock weather widget on main along with 8 mostly used icons, ie facebook, Twitter, g+. To the right I have system settings, toggles and system info. To my left all my file managers ie dropbox, file man, WiFi explorer, gallery etc. I have it like this whatever Rom I'm running. I'm a bit ocd like that.
Keenan Ochoa Mclock widget, small minimalistic text widget for weather and cool wallpaper like kgill7's forever dope!
Michael Gonzalez I have the sense clock with weather (and flashlight, callender apps launch by tapping minute/hour) and all my commonly used apps on home screen, the rest are dedicated to multi media page, game page, quick contacts page, and random cool stuff page...
Bill Siembida Minimal. I don't like a bunch of clutter on my home screen . That's what all the extra screens are for. I want the date and time and my design to be shown in its entirety. Then use the others with folders to out what I want on it in a minimal is better idea also .
Tony Abiama My main page has to be minimal with just a 1x4 clock from the market and 4 icons down below, the other pages can have big Widgets and what not
Mykal Parent I use circle launcher, it hides everything and is only a tap away. There is nothing at all on my screen until I tap the middle to launch my circle.
David Hilgendorf Nova launcher prime, Beautiful widgets, Wizz widgets stacked for ics (fb,calander, bookmarks) Text icons, ³ music player widget, file manager widget and a bad a## wallpaper
Ricky Miller I let webOS download everything for me. It grabs all my contacts. And I don't really like widgets. Home screen is clean.
Anonymous minimalistic clock, battery widget...toggle widgets and folders on the next screen
Jacob Grumbles @taylor hull I have the same phone and same set up .
Nain El Fuego Romero tons of pretty widgets with a clean and minimalistic setup
Joernie Berrios Set up -*SS Launcher*....customize like crazy....(Samsung Vibrant:-CyanogenMod7)
Joel Diaz @jacob, couldn't agree more with you. My homescreens are nicely organized.
Amie Lee Greenway I like to have all the apps I use the most on my homescreen. For my multiple screens just mostly widgets.
Paul Vanderbear As organized as possible.
Wissam Salah Al-fakiany many folders and 1-2 widgets
Taylor Hull On my GNexus, all my most used apps are in four folders on the bottom of the screen, and nothing on my home screen. Nice and minimal.
Jacob Grumbles clean as possible. I think putting a clock on your home screen is dumb considering there is a clock in the notification bar.
Kerri Kershaw Metro! :D
Brianna E. Azzara Clean - Streamlined. I'm a bit OCD when organizing the apps and their shortcuts.
Eduardo Ordaz With Widgets and my favorite apps them.
????? ??????? With a clock,weather widget,news widget,Root Explorer,SMS,Contacts,Dialer : )
James Valentin Not bad for the epic 4g touch phone n toshiba thrive tablet still waiting for ics for now...

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