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Quick overview

If you should read only one paragraph, this is the one to read :-)

  • Desktop: your home, where you put apps, shortcuts, widgets, folders, etc.
  • Screen: the area covered by Lightning Launcher on your phone or tablet. Typically this is almost all the space, minus status and navigation bars when they are present.
  • Page: a screen sized fraction of the desktop. Each desktop is a grid of pages, not an horizontal stripe
  • Item: an object on your desktop, such as an app or widget
  • Folder: this name refers to both the icon opening a window and the window itself. Folders can contains any items: apps and shortcuts, but also widgets… or other folders.
  • Panel: a kind of folder, but displayed directly in the desktop. Unlike folders, it does not open over the desktop in its own window, and it scrolls as every other item when you scroll the desktop.
  • Container: a generic term for Desktop, Folder or Panel. A container holds items.

The desktop

The desktop is an unlimited surface where you can put apps, widgets, folders or other objects. Each desktop is made of several pages, each page has the same size as the screen.

The key concept is that the desktop does not consist in a horizontal stripe of pages, but in a grid. It means that you can scroll left and right, but also up and down.

The desktop grows as needed. Move an item to the right side, and it will automatically makes a new page. Same for left, top and bottom side. Each time an item is moved outside of the current desktops bounds, the desktop will increase its size. There is no desktop size limit, you can have as many pages as you need.

But wait, there is more: Lightning Launcher can manage more than one desktop. Each desktop is a separate environment, you can use one for work, one for home, one for child, and so on. LL supports five desktops, LLX up to 100.

Finally, panels and folders are a kind of “sub desktop”. Of course they behave a bit differently from your desktop since they are displayed in boxes, but they share desktops concepts and almost all settings and customization options. Generally, when something works for a desktop, it will also work for folders and panels too (items placement, appearance, grid settings, navigation, etc.).

Items placement

Items are generally aligned on the grid. This is a classic and handy way to layout items, and this great to quickly create a tidy home screen.

Additionally, items can be detached from the grid. Once an item is detached it can be moved pixel per pixel. This is specially useful when you want to create a precise layout and require fine and accurate positioning.

In this mode, items can be scaled and rotated too, leaving you complete freedom on how you place the object on the desktop.

When an item is detached, a geometry toolbox can assist you to set exact values using +/- buttons and direct keyboard input.


Each desktop provides a default item style, such as font, color, size, icon effect, etc. A change in the desktop options will be reflected to all items. But also each item can be customized individually. For instance you could set a bold font on the desktop, all items will then display a bold label, and you could change a particular item so it display an italic text instead.

This kind of item customization works per setting, meaning that if you customized the item text style from bold to italic, when you change other settings at the desktop level (such as the font size for instance), then the customized item will be updated accordingly.

It works the same for folders and panels: each container has its set of options, and items contained follow this style, unless they are customized individually.

Folders and panels

Folders and panels: they are a kind of desktop. A folder is like a desktop but displayed in a window on top of everything else, it can be opened and closed. When a folder is opened, you can still scroll the desktop behind, but the folder won't move (it is displayed on top). It is possible to configure when the folder is closed, and where it appears on the screen (centered, on a given side, with a custom size, etc.), thus allowing interesting features like animated side bars. A folder can contain any type of item, including widgets, folders and panels.

A panel is like a desktop but embedded in another desktop: it displays its own content in a box, meaning it will be scrolled like any other app or widget when you scroll the desktop containing the panel. Since panels are like desktops and folders, they can in turn contains apps, widgets… or panels ! Nested panels is a complex configuration but can be used to create stunning navigation effect.

Hint: in order to move an object inside a panel or folder, drag it over the panel or folder icon, wait a bit for the animation to finish, and drop it (this delay helps preventing unwanted moves and allows stacking). In order to move an item out of its container, long tap on it and select “Move out of folder/panel”


There are two “modes” of customization:

  • layout editing: this consists in moving items on the desktop, changing their size, rotation, order of appearance, moving objects in or out of folders and panels, etc. While doing so, tapping on apps won't launch them, but instead will select the icon so that you can adjust its geometry. Layout editing is done directly on the screen by entering the Edit layout mode: by default long tap on any object (panels are an exception), or long tap on the desktop and select “Edit layout”. Hitting the back key will leave this mode.
  • settings editing: this consists in a dedicated screen where you can adjust options such as font size, colors, borders, icon reflection, folder placement, scrolling options and so on. In this mode you have access to all customization switches, and swiping left will reveal a preview of your changes. Modifications are saved immediately, when you hit home your desktop is updated.
concepts.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/26 12:11 by pierrox