Home Screen icons are gray on Android? Here’s why

Although the app drawer is just a swipe away, most of us tend to pick a few apps that we most commonly use and place them on the Home Screen. Besides the practical side, it’s so aesthetically pleasing to customize your screen to fit your needs. However, some users report that home screen icons are gray on Android for some reason. Some of them can’t remove or delete these icons while others are just unsure why icons turned gray and what should they do.

We have a few suggestions for you and you can find them below.

Table of contents:

  1. Check Digital Wellbeing
  2. Check restored apps after the initial setup
  3. Clear cache and data from the default launcher
  4. Delete broken app shortcuts

Why are app icons greyed out on Android?

There are multiple reasons for this occurrence:

  • App Limits or Focus mode in Digital Wellbeing locked apps and made the icons grey
  • Apps are being installed after a factory reset
  • There’s a bug of sorts with the custom or built-in launcher.
  • Gray icons are actually broken shortcuts and you can delete them.

Learn how to remove gray icons from the home screen below.

1. Check Digital Wellbeing

There are a few possible reasons for this occurrence. To be exact, 4 reasons but there might be something we’re not aware of. The first one is the App Timer of sorts available on most newer Android skins as a part of Digital Wellbeing.

With it, you can set daily time limits on any app and limit the usage to keep that urge to play an addictive game or swipe through social media timeline for hours and completely neglect reality.

Once you reach the daily limit, the app will close and the icon should be grayed out. Informing you that the app is off-limit until midnight when the counter resets. Or until you turn off this option.

So, the first thing you need to check is Digital Wellbeing and confirm that the Home Screen icons that are gray on your Android, aren’t, in fact, disabled by the App Timer or Focus mode of sorts.

Follow these instructions to disable App Timer or Focus mode on your Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Digital Wellbeing or Screen Time.
  3. Open App Timer and make sure that the grayed-out app is not disabled by Digital Wellbeing.Home Screen icons are gray Android
  4. Disable Focus mode.

2. Check restored apps after the initial setup

The next possible reason for gray apps on the home screen is related to the backup restore process. Namely, Google Drive Backup or backups from proprietary services (e.g. Samsung Cloud) save home screen layout and icons.

So, when you restore your device after a factory reset or during the initial setup, it will place icons on the home screen even if those apps are still downloading from Play Store. Until you get the app, the icon will stay gray.

Therefore, before you rush to find ways on how to remove a home screen shortcut that’s gray, make sure that the app is installed from Play Store. The whole restoration process can take some time so wait it out and check if icons are still gray. If you cancel the installation of a certain app, the icon should disappear so you can try that and install the app later manually.

On the other hand, if you haven’t done any factory reset and the problem appeared out of nowhere, move to the next step.

3. Clear cache and data from the default launcher

The problem might be in the default launcher or, even more likely, in the custom launcher in case you prefer third-party launchers. We suggest clearing the local data from the default launcher and trying to remove the icon from the gray icon from the Home Screen. You can always add home screen shortcuts again from the app drawer.

Here’s how to clear local data from the default launcher:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Apps.
  3. Expand all apps.
  4. Locate and open your launcher (One UI, Pixel, MIUI Home launcher, etc.).
  5. Tap Storage.
  6. Clear storage and restart your device.Home Screen icons are gray Android

Alternatively, you can uninstall updates from the launcher and check if that helps. To uninstall updates from an Android launcher, navigate again to Settings > Apps > All apps > default launcher. Once there, tap on the 3-dots menu and tap Uninstall updates. If this option is not available, download an alternative launcher and set it as the default. Once the built-in launcher is not active, you can reset it.

4. Delete broken app shortcuts

Finally, if the grayed-out app icon shows a small icon in the corner, this means that this is a shortcut you created for an app or app feature and the app is uninstalled or disabled. This implies that the shortcut is broken and you should remove it. If you can’t remove it for some reason, try booting into the Safe mode (as explained here) and deleting the broken shortcut.

Hopefully, that sorts things out. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to share alternative solutions if we overlooked something. Reach us out in the comments section below or contact us on Twitter and Facebook.

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