This Galaxy S21 how-to guide explained what the Galaxy S21 Home screen is, why you need it, the meaning and usage of all items you may find on the Galaxy S21 Home screen, and how to use gestures on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
Although Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra differ in hardware configurations and a few software features, the home screen is identical on these 3 phones. So, this guide applies to all Galaxy S21 phones.
What is the Galaxy S21 Home screen? Why do you need it?
Galaxy S21 Home screen is the centre of the phone. You always start from the home screen after you unlock the phone. It is like your desktop on a PC.
Like on other Android phones, the Galaxy S21 Home screen can be used to hold frequently used apps, app folders, and widgets. You can also use it to pin files and pictures.
So, the Galaxy S21 Home screen can help you use the phone more efficiently.
You can quickly open a file without navigation through the My Files (or other file managers ) app. You can take quick actions (e.g., take notes) quickly or check info from widgets on the home screen without opening the apps explicitly.
It is impossible to remove the Galaxy S21 Home screen. You have to maintain at least one panel (page) of the home screen.
Understanding items on Galaxy S21 Home screen
Typically, you will see (and use) various items on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
For example, in the screenshot below, there are 12 different types of items on one Galaxy S21 Home screen:
- Status bar
- Edge screen handle
- Navigation bar
- Galaxy S21 Home Screen panel indicator
- Favourite tray
- App icon
- App folder
- App shortcut
- Pinned files
- Pinned photos
Now, let’s go through them one by one.
1. Status bar
The status bar is always shown on the Galaxy S21 Home screen. You cannot hide it by default.
There are some icons in the status bar. On the left side, you can find notification icons, which usually have corresponding notifications in the notification panel.
You may check this guide on the meaning of status icons and notification icons on Galaxy S21.
2. Edge screen handle
Edge screen on Galaxy S21 phones is just a software feature and available on all three Galaxy S21 models. It has nothing to do with the screen type of the phone.
Since Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung introduced the notorious and useless curved screen on Galaxy S and Note phones. Edge screen was initially designed to use these curved screens.
Unfortunately, very few owners use the feature. And Samsung silently keeps this feature on more and more phones with or without a curved screen.
For Galaxy S21, only Galaxy S21 Ultra has a curved screen (and it is a disappointment). But you can use the Edge screen feature on all three Galaxy S21 phones.
You can choose to hide or customize the edge screen handle in Settings — Display — Edge panels — Handle.
By default, Galaxy S21 still uses the 3 navigation buttons (Home button, Back button, and Recents button) in the navigation bar if you are using navigation buttons, as shown in the screenshot above.
As explained in this guide, you can customize the button layout. You can also hide the navigation bar (and navigation buttons on-demand) with NavStar.
4. Galaxy S21 Home Screen panel indicator
Galaxy S21 Home screen, by default, has two or more panels (pages). The panel indicator quickly tells you the relative location of the current panel you are on.
The house icon represents the “home” of the home screen panels. The dots represent other panels, except the leftmost one.
You can choose to hide or disable Samsung Free (and Google Discover) on the home screen. Once it is disabled, you will not see the icon for them.
5. Favourite tray
The favourite tray is also shared among all home screen panels. So, you can access the items inside on any panels.
You can put your favourite apps, app folders, app shortcuts, app pairs, or even pinned files in the favourite tray. Of course, you are limited to up to 5 slots in the tray.
If you do not want to use the favourite tray, unfortunately, you cannot remove the tray. But you can keep them empty.
Normally, you should place the most commonly used apps on the favourite tray to improve your productivity with Galaxy S21.
By default, on Galaxy S21, the Apps icon for the Apps screen is not included in the favourite tray because you can access the Apps screen with the gesture (swiping up on the Home screen) on Galaxy S21. If you want, you can add the icon to the favourite tray (Settings — Display — Home screen — Show Apps screen button on Home screen).
6. App icon
For most Galaxy S21 owners, the app icon is the most frequently used feature on the home screen. You can simply tap the icon to open the app.
You can use at least 3 touchscreen gestures on app icons on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
If you tap any app icons, the app will open.
You can long-tap (tap and hold) the app icon to access a lot of functions.
For example, as shown in the screenshot below, you can tap and hold the Google Keep app icon to see the options.
- To open app shortcuts (A). These are special features of the Keep Notes. You can access them instead of open the whole app. Of course, some apps do not offer shortcuts.
- Select this app icon (B). You can select multiple app icons to add them into an app folder. You can also select multiple app icons, then remove them or uninstall/disable them.
- Remove (C). This would remove the app icon from the Galaxy S21 Home screen. It will NOT uninstall the app.
- Uninstall (D). You can quickly install this app from the phone without navigation to the application manager or Play store.
- To access the widgets of the app (E). You can see all available widgets offered by this app. Please note, some apps do not offer widgets.
- To access the app info page of the app (F). You can use the information icon to open the app info page of this app. Then you can manage this app without going through the application manager.
Please note, app icons on the Galaxy S21 Home screen are actually shortcuts to the apps, not a copy of the apps. So, you can put multiple copies of one app on the home screen.
When you install new apps from the Google Play store, they will be added to the Home screen by default. Of course, you can change this in the home screen settings (Settings —Home screen —Add new apps to Home screen).
You can tap, hold, then drag the app icon to relocate it on any slots on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
7. App folder
App folder on Galaxy S21 Home screen is simply a folder of app icons
When you have multiple apps on the home screen, you may want to organize them with app folders. For example, you can put apps from one company (e.g., Google) or apps with similar functions (e.g., media streaming) into one app folder.
8. App shortcut
Android introduced App shortcut in Android Nougat 7.1. It is a shortcut to some specific features of the app.
So, it is normally used to access such features quickly without opening the app and navigate through the app interface. It is similar to widgets.
For example, you may just want to take a quick photo note. In this case, the app shortcut is a good solution if the app provides it. Otherwise, you have to open the app, navigate through several pages to start to work.
Please note, although you can add app shortcuts to the Galaxy S21 Home screen, just like standard apps, app shortcuts only have offer partial functions of the app. You may have to open the app if you need to access other features. Some app shortcuts may offer a “link” to the normal app UI so that you can easily switch to the app.
Most browser apps (e.g., Chrome, Internet, and Firefox) allow you to add bookmarks to the home screen. You can tap the icon to start the browser app and open the webpage.
In the Chrome browser, when browsing a page, you can choose to send it to the Home screen.
10. Pinned files
If you need to open some files regularly, you can pin them to the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
On Galaxy S21, you can use the My Files app to easily pin any files to the home screen, as explained in this guide.
A widget is a special app interface in the Android OS. It is similar to app shortcuts.
But unlike app shortcuts, widgets can refresh themselves and deliver fresh and real-time info automatically.
You can use the widget to quickly access specific info delivered by the corresponding app on the Galaxy S21 home screen without opening the app.
The most commonly used widgets are the clock and weather widget. The clock always updates automatically. Weather info is fetched regularly based on your settings.
The size of a widget depends on individual apps. Some may occupy only one slot. Some are resizeable.
12. Pinned photos (picture frame widget)
When you pin a file to the Galaxy S21 Home screen, you will only see an icon of the file. So, it is not useful for photos.
Most of the time, you want to show photos on the home screen instead of an icon.
Samsung has released the picture frame widgets for you to show photos on the home screen.
Please follow this guide if you want to show photos on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
How to use touchscreen gestures on Galaxy S21 Home screen?
On the Galaxy S21 Home screen, you can use the following gestures:
- Swipe left or right to navigate to other home screen panels.
- Swipe up to access the Apps screen.
- Swipe down to access the Apps screen (default) or open the notification panel. You can configure it in Settings — Home Screen — Swipe down for notification panel.
- Long tapping on any blank area to enter the Home screen edit mode.
- Pinch on any area to enter the Home screen edit mode.
Please note, when you swipe left and right, you cannot cycle through the screen panels. Once you reach the leftmost (Google Discover or Samsung Free)or the rightmost panel, you cannot swipe in that direction any more.
You may check this guide on the available gestures if you are using navigation gestures.
Differences between the Galaxy S21 Home screen and Apps screen?
Galaxy S21 Apps screen, aka app drawer, is the actual holding place for apps. App icons on the Home screen, on the other hand, is just a shortcut to the apps in the Apps screen.
For this reason, each app in the Apps screen can appear only once. But on the Home screen, there is no such limitation. You can have multiple copies of an app on the Galaxy S21 Home screen.
Besides, widgets are not listed on the Apps screen. They cannot be added to the Apps screen, which can only hold apps.
On Galaxy S21, you have the option to hide the Apps screen. But if you choose this option, all apps will be added to the Home screen, and you cannot have multiple copies of one app on the home screen.
How to customize the Galaxy S21 Home screen?
You can customize the Galaxy S21 Home screen in many aspects to meet your preferences. These are discussed in separate pages:
- How to use Galaxy S21 Home screen edit mode?
- How to set wallpapers for Galaxy S21?
- How to use and customize app folders on Galaxy S21?
- How to use Edge screen on Galaxy S21?
- How to add bookmarks to Galaxy S21 Home screen?
- How to customize the home screen grid on Galaxy S21?
- Galaxy S21 Home screen settings explained.
- How to manage home screen panels on Galaxy S21.
- How to pin files to Galaxy S21 Home screen?
- How to show photos on Galaxy S21 Home screen?
- How to disable or hide Samsung Free/Google Discover on Galaxy S21 home screen?
You may check this guide individually for the customization you want.
Do you know how to use the Galaxy S21 Home screen on Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra?
If you have any questions or encounter any problems with the Galaxy S21 Home screen on Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra, please let us know in the comments.
The community will help you.
If you have any questions on using Galaxy S21, you may check our detailed step-by-step Galaxy S21 guides:
- Galaxy S21 new features guides.
- Galaxy S21 how-to guides.
- Galaxy S21 camera guides.
- Galaxy S21 accessories guides.
You can also post questions or share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
The official Samsung Galaxy S21 user manual (PDF) in your local language can be read and download here.
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