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I had recently gifted my Mom a Nexus 7, with a hope that she will like to read books. She is old with poor eye sight and can't read English that great. I find her eager to learn and she had made a good progress in reading few books. Since she is not used to these gadgets, I am trying to keep settings in her tablet constant. Recently I observed that the shortcut in home screen for PDF reader disappeared and resulting in discontinued reading till my arrival. The frequency of this sort of interruption has increased now a days. Rather than finding how the shortcut is being deleted, I think preventing changes to home screen is sensible.

Hence, I would like to know about any means to keep the icons or shortcuts in home screen and in launcher constant, immune to long press and drag and drop operations.

Device info: Nexus 7, running stock 4.2.1, unrooted, but willing to root if required.

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My Mom also has a Nexus 7, and also was puzzled by the home screen suddenly changing. Here's what happened: she acidentally installed some non-standard home screen, and started using it and customizing it. Then one day she accidentally rebooted the tablet into "safe mode", which caused the stock home screen to appear. She didn't realize she was using a different home screen, and wondered where all her cusomizations had gone. – offby1 Jan 24 '13 at 23:11
up vote 9 down vote accepted

There's no built-in functionality for this, but there are a handful of third-party launchers that support locking the desktop. Off the top of my head, I know that both Apex Launcher and ADW.Launcher do.

For Apex, simply double tap on an empty space on the home screen and then select "Lock Desktop" to prevent icons from being added or removed.

Apex Launcher screenshot

On ADW.Launcher you should be find a "Lock Desktop" option in the settings, which you can access from the overflow menu in the top right of the app drawer (Apex also has a settings menu there).

Other launchers that have the “Lock Desktop” option:

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This is not an add-on app to a preexisting launcher but, there's a very thoughtfully designed, lightweight launcher called Smart Launcher that has an important feature called "Prevent Modifications," which solves the problem of accidental moving/deletion of app icons.

My relative who's not good with tech finds it easy to use (this was after she complained about Samsung's Touchwiz interface).

Other unique benefits/features of this launcher:

  1. Conserves screen real estate by allowing two actions per icon/app--secondary action done by double-pressing an icon/app; allowed actions include app, folder, widget, shortcut, etc.
  2. Arranges home screen apps into a circular (other choices as well) pattern, making it easy for user to remember where things are, so access is faster.
  3. Instead of showing apps collection page by page, it groups apps by their categories, modifiable by user. It's like the Linux Mint Operating System's start or app menu.
  4. Rarely used apps can be hidden by user.
  5. Since it's among the most lightweight of all launchers, it conserves battery and valuable resources which could be used for something else, which is crucial for slower, older phones.
  6. Advertised to work with "OK Google" voice command, though I've never tried it because I don't need it. Uses a Contacts-searchable bar on the homescreen.
  7. Doesn't require rooting.
  8. I've been happily using the Free version which meets my needs, but if you find you like the additional features then they're in the Pro version.
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Link for the app? – Manubhargav Sep 19 '15 at 9:42

I workaround the issue by using a blank page as "home", so that way, that page is the one showing most of the time; drastically reducing the chance of accidental icon or folder displacement.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. Could you elaborate what/how you used a blank page as "home"? I never heard of having a blank web page as home screen if that is what you mean. – Narayanan Aug 28 '14 at 4:12
Not a blank web page: a page of the home screen with no icons or widgets. – Dan Hulme Aug 28 '14 at 8:29

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