Often after a reboot, crash or USB usage, icons of apps go missing. Both in the "Home" screens and "Applications".

Currently I have four screens of apps, three in Home. Some of the icons understandably vanish when the SD is taken by eg. USB Storage to PC mode (because they are in part stored there), but often refuse to reappear even after restarting the phone.

Is there config file stored somewhere in my rooted Android 2.2 responsible for the current desktop layout of shortcuts? Or way to back it up & restore (even the stale shortcuts), or force refresh based on existing apps in internal or external memory?

  • This may have been too developer-oriented before my edit, but it would be nice to know the UNIX path (to the launcher config responsible for what's currently displayed?) Then I could probably script my own refresh/bugfix without the weight of yet another app/3rd party launcher.
    – Marcos
    Jan 16, 2013 at 21:42

3 Answers 3


App specific settings are usually stored in the internal storage folder accessible only to that app. While apps do have the ability to write to external storage and lose access to that data when you mount it, I doubt that is the case here.

When you install and move an app to the SD Card, you are not moving the entire app. Some core content of the app still stays on the internal storage. However, moving an app to the external storage has some interesting side effects. The app is completely disabled when you connect your device to the computer, on pre honeycomb devices. Android 3.0 onwards, the USB storage was switched to MTP, which allows the device and the computer to access the storage simultaneously.

In your case, when you connect to the computer, the apps on the SD Card are disabled, causing them to disappear temporarily. As for them not reappearing when you disconnect and restart your phone suggests that there is a bug in the launcher you're using. Try using a different third party launcher instead.


There is no common desktop in Android. The desktop or the better term, the Home screen and its content changes based on the Launcher currently set as default. Desktop is also no directory in Android unlike traditional Linux distributions where you can simply browse them using command-line or a file manager.

Anyhow, most of the Launchers including the stock Android, Nova Launcher, Apex, Smart Launcher Pro, Slim Launcher prefer stores the Home screen shortcuts and widgets into a database located inside their data directory.

E.g. /data/data/com.android.launcher3/databases/launcher.db may have a table named favorites where you may find all those entries. Delete those entries, restart and changes would be reflected on Home screen.

If you want to backup those Home screen shortcuts then backup the whole Launcher app or at least its databases.

  • On Android 14 with the default launcher (Nexus), see the favorites table in /data/data/com.google.android.apps.nexuslauncher/databases/launcher_4_by_5.db. It contains the app icon positions (and their containers) on the Home screen, as well as the launch intents. The icons themselves are in app_icons.db (icons table) in the same databases folder.
    – Narvarth
    Jan 7 at 17:27

I believe they are stored with the launcher data, since these icons/shortcuts and their order is launcher-specific.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .