Disable Google Search bar on Android home screen

How to get rid of the annoying Google Search bar that sits in your Android smartphone home screen. Here's how to remove the Google Search bar from Android, by disabling Google Now, using a custom launcher, or rooting your Android and using a custom ROM. (See all Android tips.)

One of the few things that mildly irritates me about my beloved LG G3 is the Google Search bar that dominates the top of the homescreen. I have literally never used it, and I can't imagine an occasion when I will. I would love to remove it.

And it isn't just aesthetic. Remove the Google Search bar on top of your screen and you will get an additional row of apps or widgets. That makes a surprisingly big difference in terms of quickly accessing frequently used apps.

There are two ways of losing the search bar without rooting your Android. You can use a custom launcher or disable Google Now. If you have rooted your smartphone there are another couple of things you can try that we have outlined below, with all the usual caveats about rooting. (See also: How to stop Google search history on Android: Turn off web history.)

How to remove Google Search bar on Android: Disable Google Now

Most likely your Android phone uses the Google Experience Launcher. If that is the case - and you might as well try this anyway - disabling Google Now will make the Search bar disappear.

Go to Settings, General, Apps. You will probably land on 'Downloaded'. Swipe across to the right until you get to the 'All' tab. Select 'Google Search', and choose 'Disable'. You will see a message that says 'If you stop this app, it will disappear from the screen and unexpected errors may occur while using other apps. Stop?'

The message isn't lying. This action will remove the Google Search bar from your Android's home screen, but you will also have lost Google Now. (You may have to restart for the change to take effect.) If Google Now is important to you, you should move on to our next suggested. Personally I can gladly live without Google Now. Each to their own, I guess.

I don't use this method, principally because even though it removes the Google Search bar, it doesn't free up that space for me to add in other icons.

Incidentally, we have heard reports of this method causing problems with users of handsets that run stock Android. So if that is you (basically, if you have a Nexus device) we recommend you don't even attempt to disable Google Now, and instead move on to our next suggestion. (See also: How to fix poor battery life following Android 5.0 Lollipop update.)

How to remove Google Search bar on Android: Use a custom launcher

A custom launcher allows you to customise your homescreen. It is an app that lets you change how your Android homescreen looks and works. Frankly, it is this kind of tweakery that makes Android superior to iPhone or Windows Phone, in my view. (Get one: Best Android phones 2015 UK.)

Simply go to the Play Store and install the launcher you most like the look of. Some of the best custom launchers for Android include Action Launcher, Apex Launcher, Aviate, Google Now Launcher, and Nova Launcher. Each of these will let you kill off the search bar, and do much more beside. There are paid-for and free launchers.

The process is broadly the same: in Nove Launcher Prime, you go to the app settings, and then select Desktop. There is an entry for Persistent Search Bar: set it to None and the Google Search bar will disappear from your Android homescreen. (See also: How to replace your Android or iOS keyboard.)

How to remove Google Search bar on Android: Root your Android and use a custom ROM

Rooting is almost the equivalent of jailbreaking an iPhone, but not quite. It allows you to do much more to your Android phone, which is mostly a good thing but can lead to some problems. You can find out how to root your Android here: How to root Android smartphones and tablets.

I'm going to go ahead and assume that if you are still reading you have rooted your Android. One of the benefits of this, is that it allows you to use a custom ROM. A custom ROM is, in essence, a standalone version of the Android OS. So not stock Android, but also not the variants of Android developed by phone manufacturers. To install a custom ROM you need to download it to a PC or Mac, and then mount it to your rooted handset via a USB cable.

The benefits of this are debatable. On the one hand you lose the bloat that is prevelant in a lot of manufacturer tweaked Android installs. But you are putting your self in the hands of third-party software makers of potentially dubious intentions.

On the other hand virtually all custom ROMs will allow you to remove the Google Search bar by simply deleting it as you would any other homescreen widget. So if you are an adventurous type with a rooted Android, install a custom ROM and delete that annoying search bar. (See also: How to undo updates on Android apps.)