The best launcher app for Android too can have a few secrets up its sleeve. You may or may not have been aware of it, but Nova Launcher provides more options than the ones you’re used to. Novice users will already find it hard to keep up with Nova Launcher given how the list of features keeps on increasing. But then such novice users won’t have Nova Launcher in the first place, not the Prime version anyways. Apart from all the features that you can get lost within the launcher settings, Nova Launcher also has a hidden Labs menu that needs to be unlocked. It’s one of the lesser-known features of the launcher even though it is not exactly a secret. These hidden Labs menu options aren’t exactly meant for the general users and are thus hidden.
If you’ve ever dived deep enough to mod, tweak, or otherwise personalize a piece of software you know hidden settings are awesome. Hidden menus and settings are like a playground for people like us. There are all sorts of things locked behind a door that you never even realized were there. But this is also a place that’s not meant for the muggles. Meaning the things hidden here are usually experimental or meant for developers. They might not yet be ready for everyday use but still ready enough for testing. Nova Launcher’s Labs menu is exactly that kind of a thing. If you don’t like walking into the unknown (or in other words, enabling some hidden setting and then watching your launcher crash), this menu is not for you.
Unlock Nova Launcher Labs Menu
Unlocking the Nova Labs menu is straightforward but you’ll need to get to the launcher settings first. So long-press on an empty space on your home screen and tap on the gear icon. Alternatively, you can also access Nova Settings in the app drawer.
Once in the Settings, press and hold the Volume down button for a couple of seconds. You’ll see a toast notification at the top that says, “Labs menu enabled” and then you can let go of the volume button. Scroll down a bit and you’ll find a new entry labeled Labs right below Backup & import settings.
Nova Launcher Labs Menu
In the Labs menu, you will find quite a few options some of which won’t make sense to you. Some were useful once upon a time but not anymore, but a couple of these are really nice. For instance, you can enable weather in the Nova search bar by toggling on Allow weather in search bar. This option does work, in fact, it does every time. But it is listed under the Labs menu because Tesla Coil cannot guarantee it will work in every case. This is due to an issue on Google’s end and Google certainly won’t be as interested in solving it.
Another useful feature is Bypass system icon theme. Those of you with stock or near-stock Android devices won’t find this particularly useful. But users of heavily skinned Android versions such as those from Samsung, Huawei, etc. definitely will. You may have noticed how MIUI or EMUI devices have a white background behind every icon. What Bypass system icon theme does is it overwrites certain skin’s default settings to add a background to icons.
If you tap on Permissions near the bottom of your screen, it expands to reveal Nova Launcher’s app permissions and the ability to toggle them on or off. But something more interesting lays right below the Permissions. Under Debug you will find an option to Show Export PNG in the long-press menu. This adds an Export PNG option to the menu that appears whenever you long-press a widget or app icon. This is really helpful if you’re a developer but also just fun in general, to me at least.
If you tap on Export PNG the Android share menu appears allowing you to share the app icon or the widget as a PNG file. Just for demonstration, here’s my zooper widget that you’ve seen in a couple of screenshots above, with all its transparency preserved in a PNG image file.
Hide Labs Menu
Not that it is going to bother you sitting down there in the settings, but if you don’t find the labs menu useful enough you can hide it back. Go to the Launcher settings and press and hold the Volume Up button for a few seconds. You will see a similar toast notification as before, this time saying that the Labs menu is disabled.
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