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How to Install New Kindle Fire HD Launchers

The Kindle Fire HD has a lovely default carousel launcher designed by Amazon, and by default there isn’t any way to change it. However, if you’ve rooted your Fire HD, there is a work-around that will allow you to install any launcher you want. This is great news if your not a fan of the carousel, or if you’re like me and just want a change of scenery once in a while.

Kindle Fire HD custom launcher

Prerequisites

The easiest way to get the new launchers on your device is to grab them directly from the Google Play market. Alternatively, you could grab the APK files, but I prefer to just pull them from Play. If you’re looking for a good launcher, I recommend either Nova Launcher or Go Launcher.

You may notice that after installing a launcher that there won’t be anyway to open it. Don’t worry, you’ll fix that in just a second.

nova launcher play storecant open launcher

After you have the launcher installed, open up ES File Explorer and browse to the following location:

  • /data/app/

From this folder you’ll need to track down the launcher .apk file(s). It may prove somewhat tricky because the file name may not match up with the launcher name, so look for the matching icon instead.

Once you find the correct apk(s), move (cut/paste) it into this folder:

  • /system/app/

data/appsystem/app

Now track down the apk file that you just moved, and long-press on it to open up its Properties. Within the properties set the permissions to:

  • User: read, write
  • Group: read
  • Other: read

apk propertieschange permissions

Now reboot the Kindle Fire HD by shutting it down and turning it back on.

shutdown kindle

Once it’s restarted, tap the Home button to bring up the launcher action chooser. Play around with the different launchers until you find one that you like, and after you do set it to the default by checking the box at the bottom of the action prompt.

complete action default launcher

I’ve tested out both Nova Launcher and Go Launcher on the Kindle Fire HD. I didn’t notice any issues from either except that the bottom-row from the overlapping Kindle launcher skin pops up even when it isn’t needed, sometimes moving the screen slightly.

Nova Launcher Go Launcher

nova launcher on kindle fire hd screenshotgo launcher on kindle fire hd screenshot

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6 Responses to How to Install New Kindle Fire HD Launchers

  1. Steve Krause February 18, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    You’ve had the Kindle Fire HD for a while now. What do you think of it overall Austin?

    • Austin Krause February 21, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      I think the Fire HD is a great tablet. It has very nice speakers, a great GPU and CPU, and awesome battery life. However, there is always the competition to think about, the Nexus 7. To be honest though, I hated this thing until I rooted it and installed the Google Play store. Amazon’s app store is incredibly insufficient, and Amazon censors a lot of competing apps from showing up in it (something Google rarely does). But after tweaking it out, like I said, it’s great.

      I haven’t played around with the Nexus 7 to compare, but I imagine the two tablets are very similar hardware-wise.

      I have noticed a lack of interest in original development for the Kindle Fire HD. I think this is largely in part due to the Nexus 7 being available. Nearly all of the developers I know purchased that device instead since it is easier to work with and doesn’t have anything locked down by Amazon.

      My advice to anyone looking at buying these tablets would be:

      Kindle Fire HD — For people with an Amazon Prime account who primarily use their tablet for reading, streaming movies, and playing music (great speakers). If you don’t have an an Amazon Prime account though it’s not really worth it to pick up the Fire.

      Nexus 7 — For people that like to customize their tablet, have access to every app available, receive timely software updates direct from Google, and definitely the go-to tablet for beginner and advanced developers.

      PSA: For those of you that don’t have a Prime account, I hope its because you found another website with just as good of prices and service as Amazon (or ShopRunner). Shopping online will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over “normal” retail prices.

  2. Malcolm March 4, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I have installed followed your instructions and installed GoLauncher but when I shut down and restart the home button disappears, am I doing something wrong.

  3. Mateo July 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Thancks

  4. Emery October 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I can’t seem to paste the apk to /system /app/
    I get a brief “permission denied” message.
    How can I fix this?

    • Austin Krause October 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

      You’ll have to root he kindle and mount the drive as writable in that case.

      ES File explorer can mark it as writable. I can post a screenshot of it later.

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