How To: Swap the 'Back' & 'Recent Apps' Buttons on Your Nexus 6

Swap the 'Back' & 'Recent Apps' Buttons on Your Nexus 6

Unless you own a Samsung device, your Android's navigation buttons have probably always been in this order (from left to right): "Back," "Home," "Recent Apps." But depending on which hand you use to hold your phone, this may not be the most ergonomic layout for you.

So the left-handed folks out there—not to mention those of you coming from a Samsung device—will be happy to know that this ordering is not set it stone. A flashable ZIP from developer Zenoran will allow you to easily swap the positions of the Back and Recents keys on your Nexus 6.


Step 1: Download the Flashable ZIP

To get this one going, point your Nexus 6's web browser to this link. The flashable ZIP mod should begin downloading immediately, but wait until it's finished before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Boot into Custom Recovery

With the ZIP downloaded, the next step is to boot your Nexus 6 into custom recovery. To do that, start by powering your phone completely off. After the screen goes black, press and hold the volume down and power buttons simultaneously. When Android's Bootloader menu comes up, press the volume down button twice to highlight Recovery Mode, then press the power button to select it.

Step 3: Install the Mod

Once you make it into custom recovery, make sure you have a recent NANDroid backup, then tap the Install button to begin. From here, navigate to your device's Download folder, then select the file.

Next, swipe the slider at the bottom of the screen to install the mod, then when that's finished, tap Reboot System.

When you get back up, your Back and Recent Apps buttons will have switched places. Both buttons still retain their original functions—they're just in new places.

(1) Before, (2) After

If you decide you'd like to switch back to the stock layout, a revert ZIP is available here. Just download the file, then flash it in custom recovery using the same steps outlined above.

So did you install this mod because you're a southpaw, or was it because you were used to the Samsung layout? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

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Do we have a similar zip for nexus5 as well or can we use this one on nexus5?

This ZIP won't work for the Nexus 5, unfortunately. I've looked around for a Nexus 5 version, but I haven't found one yet. I'll stay on the lookout for one and post it here if I find anything.

This worked OK on my rooted Nexus 6 running lollipop 5.01. Unfortunately, it does NOT work with the 5.1 update.

However, I'm happy to report there's an even better solution, which not only swaps the Back and Recent Apps soft-keys, but also manages additional must-have tweaks for Android 5.1 "A one handed mode which moves the button towards the edge on the navigation bar - press and hold back or recents to toggle." All I can say is AWESOME! :)

Here's the link for MCR modpack for the Nexus 5, 6 and 9: (peruse through the entire changelog below to discover all features)

Hi, So i just got this phone today and i am new at this. Does the Nexus 6 have to be Rooted for this mod to work? Any help would be great. Thank you.

Technically, this doesn't need root—just a custom recovery. But most of the time, you'd have to root in order to install a custom recovery. Root means you have full access to all of the system files on your phone while Android is running. Custom recovery, on the other hand, operates before Android starts up, so you can make changes to files (like the SystemUI file in this case) that would be in use while Android is running.

One of the biggest appeals of Nexus devices is that they make it incredibly easy to root and install a custom recovery. Even still, I don't know if this mod by itself is a good enough reason to go through all of that trouble. Plus, the mod is outdated now, so it doesn't work on the latest version of Android (5.1.1).

Thank you for replying to me. Now I understand a bit more. Do you know how I can switch my nav buttons? or a good mod? Thanks again.

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