New method released to remap the Home button and App Shortcut buttons of Fire TV Remotes

Since the original Fire TV was released, it has been a constant back-and-forth battle between Amazon and modders over control of the Fire TV’s home screen and its remote buttons. Most recently, Amazon clawed back control by blocking a method used to replace the Fire TV’s launcher and by blocking my method of remapping the app shortcut buttons on the Fire TV remote. Control has now shifted back towards modders with the release of an update to the app Launcher Manager which allows for both the home button and app shortcut buttons to be remapped.

Launcher Manager was the go-to app for changing the launcher, a.k.a. home screen, of Fire TV devices prior to the update released last year by Amazon that made it stop working. Its developer, SweenWolf, with the help of another modder by the name of Finnzz, has released the app’s first major update in over a year. This new update, essentially, allows you to, once again, use a custom launcher of your choice and includes a few bonus features.

Instead of allowing you to change the Fire TV’s default launcher app, like it used to do, the new Launcher Manager v1.1.8 update simply detects when you press the home button on the Fire TV remote and launches the app of your choice. While most will select an alternative launcher to open, you can technically choose any app to launch when the home button is pressed.

Launcher Manager detects the press of the home button by monitoring the Fire TV’s log file for cues that Amazon’s default launcher has opened. It does this through an internal ADB connection between the app, Launcher Manager, and the Fire TV, so you must have ADB debugging enabled at all times for the remapping to work. When it sees the default launcher has opened, it then opens the app of your choice. In practice, this means you may briefly see the default Fire TV home screen open when you press the home button on the remote before your chosen app replaces it.

Since pressing any of the app shortcut buttons can also be detected through the Fire TV’s log file in the same manner, SweenWolf has also added the ability to remap app shortcut buttons, located along the bottom of modern Fire TV remotes, to Launcher Manager. Since Launcher Manager is simply reacting to a log file entry when an app shortcut button is pressed, you may see the default app open first before your chosen app opens.

To install Launcher Manager v1.1.8, enter short code 436966 into my Downloader app to sideload the app or see this guide for detailed sideloading instructions. Once Launcher Manager is installed and opened for the first time, you need to select Launcher Options on the right and enable the “Home Button Hook” option under the “New Method” section. After doing that you will be prompted by the Fire TV to allow the internal ADB connection.

While taking control of the Fire TV remote’s home button and app shortcut buttons is great, if you choose to do so, be aware that this method will surely be blocked one way or another by Amazon in the future. Consider it temporary unless you’ve blocked software updates. Even then, there are ways for Amazon to prevent this from working even if you have updates blocked.

All of this will sound familiar to those of you who have been around the Fire TV modding community for as long as I have. In 2015, an app called FireStarter was released to replace the Fire TV home screen launcher. It detected the Fire TV remote home button being pressed in the same manner as Launcher Manager v1.1.8, through an internal ADB connection that monitored the device’s log file. FireStarter was eventually blacklisted by Amazon as were other apps that allowed the Fire TV’s home screen from being bypassed. FireStarter relaunched as AppStarter without home button detection and, as far as I’m aware, was never blacklisted by Amazon.

It’s pretty safe to assume Launcher Manager’s ability to remap the Fire TV remote’s home button and app shortcut buttons will eventually stop working. It could happen within a few days or it could work for months. If Amazon chooses to simply blacklist the app, which it hasn’t done to an app in a very long time, it’ll probably happen quickly. However, if Amazon takes a more sophisticated approach by figuring out a way to prevent installed apps from knowing which buttons are pressed by monitoring the Fire TV’s log file, Launcher Manager will likely continue to work for several months.

  1. Pawdog says:

    Glad to see these guys are still fighting the good fight. Thought all had given up.

  2. Greg says:

    Tduk has now also Released App Killer. Unfortunately it is Not Free it Cost 1.99 USD. It Kills all Apps Running in the Background with on click on your remote.
    At this time it Kills all Running Apps But he said there will updates to Exemp Apps from been Force Stop by the New App.

    • Tom Reid. says:

      Disconnect your FireTV from all power sources for a few minutes then reconnect to force a device reboot.

      All unnecessary Apps will be stopped, plus any unnecessary App Cache cleared. All in one go.

      Adding another unnecessary App that will most certainly be always running in the background makes no sense.

      • Papa Dave says:

        I have a choice. Either unplug the fire stick for a few minutes and listen to the kids asking why I’m not turning the TV on, is it broken, let me help you work on it… OR, I can click one button and it starts up within 2-3 seconds. Just sayin’

  3. Erik says:

    As the author of one of those launcher replacement apps (FTVLaunchX) I can recommend to simply get another streaming device if you really want to have control over the experience. As Elias says, Amazon will simply block it in one way or another so you’ll have to constantly chase for new solutions. IMHO it’s just not worth it…

    • Marc says:

      Yes! This!
      I’m done with Amazon. More than likely I’ll be purchasing the newest ONN box when its available and I’m willing to pay more for it if needed. I’m tired of all these uninstalls/installs.

      • Jeff says:

        AFAIK the Onn devices are permanently discontinued. Walmart partnered with some company that it would’ve competed against (and probably beat.) I fully expect them to release an ad-riddled, more expensive, and less functional device in partnership with their new partner sometime this year.

        If you want to wait for an alternative, you’re probably going to be looking at the next Google device. Hopefully they can work out the issues with the most recent one, and deliver something that competes with the next-gen Firesticks (ie. whatever comes after the Max) a bit better. Pricing will need to be right too.

        • JFC says:

          Just for others reading here…No… Walmart in 2023 came out with a new Google TV 4K version (newer than the prior Android TV version) of their 4K Box running Android OS 12 that sells at Walmart for about $20.

          Has all the home screen and other device controls you’d want. And seems to be getting generally good reviews. I’ve got one, and am pleased with it… though I actually like my Fire TV remote better than the Android remote that came with the Onn device…

          But at least with the Onn TV device, I don’t have to fight Amazon over control of my own streaming device!

          • Kogi says:

            I got the ONN box the other day, and I LOVED being able to remap the buttons (didn’t know you could also reprogram double-press and long-presses for more functionality) and access my Google stuffz… but it had tremendous trouble connecting to bluetooth, and after an hour or two, stopped recognizing my USB hub. Did a factory reset 3 hours after first setting it up! Bluetooth was a little better after the reset, but now it wouldn’t recognize any USB, and was randomly going to a “No Input” black screen. Returned it and ended up buying a FS4KMax for $24 on sale. I wanted to leave the Amazon ecosystem, and maybe I will one day. That ONN experience really turned me off though. Been using Amazon for years, and at least they’re reliable performers.

          • Ricky says:

            Sounds like you had USB debugging turned on.

          • Kogi says:

            Had it on, had it off. Tried it first thing after a factory reset, and it wouldn’t recognize USB hub, turned on ADB Debugging, wouldn’t recognize it. What irritated me was that it was working fine for hours, and then just stopped.

          • JFC says:

            FWIW, I had the same problem with last year’s ONN TV 4K mini box running Android TV, could never get it to successfully, consistently connect to either of my Bluetooth headphones.

            But then I bought this year’s newer ONN TV 4K mini box, the version that comes with Google’s new Google TV interface. And I’ve had zero problems with it connecting to Bluetooth, unlike its predecessor.

            Don’t know if it was a problem with my particular original Android TV device only, or a broader problem with their original Android TV mini box in general… But fortunately, that problem doesn’t seem to be persisting in the newer Google TV version.

          • Kogi says:

            Mine was the new version :(

    • John says:

      Do you know of any applications( or a way)for the Nvidia shield, that can remap the app shortcut buttons on the fire tv remote when using the fire tv remote on the Nvidia shield?

    • Jeff says:

      You’re right of course, but now that Walmart has discontinued the Onn devices, it’s very difficult to find a better value than the Firestick. If the next Google device is competitively priced, performs in line with the next Firestick, and overcomes the issues it had with it’s last iteration, I will definitely be switching.

      Until someone can deliver the performance of a Firestick Max for $30 – $30 though, unfortunately I’ll just have to forgo custom launchers and more customizability.

      • Terry says:

        I have actually stepped away from the firestick and gone with a formular z11. Definitely not as cheap as a firestick but I have found that the box is much better. You can side load it just as the firestick but to me it is much cleaner. I have not had it long enought to do a real deep dive into all it can do but i am very happy with it. They do have cheaper models but yes you are still looking at about twice the price.

    • Kevin says:

      Eric, thank you for your candor and information.

  4. Lee Stover says:

    Is there any way to put 3rd party apps on the Echo Show 15? There was a workaround early on, but Amazon blocked it.

  5. Wilazn says:

    OMG yes! I can finally use my firestick again and not be annoyed. When they blocked the home. Utton from working with the custom launcher, it was hell for me.

  6. John says:

    Will this app work on Nvidia shield? Reason I ask is you can use the fire tv remote with the Nvidia shield however you can not use/remap any of the app shortcut buttons. I would like the ability to use the app shortcut buttons on the fire tv remote to open the app on the Nvidia shield

    • Greg says:

      Not if you have to get it from Google play store. At this time as He is still waiting for approval from Google.

  7. luthersman says:

    Great news! I’ve been waiting for a update like this. I’ve switched to the apple tv for home use because I hate ads on my home screen, but love the FireTV Max as my portable media streamer.

    • kwest12 says:

      Out of curiosity, if you were going to pay up for a device, why not just skip the locked down Apple ecosystem and jump to the Shield? As I type this in realizing it’s probably because you’re not into sideloaded apps.

      • luthersman says:

        I have used the shield tv for years and it’s now my secondary device. Just got tired of google trying to force ads like Amazon(even though I have another launcher). Also the lack of HDR support on YouTube on the shield tv annoyed me. I think the remotes and voice assistants are better on FireTV and appleTV. Also the apple tv has some apps that aren’t available even to sideload that I like. I put Kodi on the apple tv, but switched to infuse media player and love it.

  8. Sue says:

    I have requested a sleep button like the tv has
    30, 60, 90 minutes and turn off.

    The fire stick can turn tv off

  9. Chuck333 says:

    Okay I guess a lot of people just don’t like things as they are. They need to tinker. IMHO the Firestick is simply a device that allows me to run apps that deliver free live TV and streaming TV and movies. Mine does that with a simple Jailbreaking and installation of a couple of apps. I’m easily satisfied, I guess.

  10. Marjan says:

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me for some reason. It didn’t ask me to allow that adb thing. When I hit the Home button it goes to their default home screen.

    • Greg says:

      Try going to my Fire TV and about then you see what yor device is and press about 7 times on it and then back out of there to my Fire TV go back and you should see Devolpers options press on it you see unknown sources press on it and allow then press AB Debugging and Allow it . Then try again. And make sure you tick the ad bugging box.

      • Marjan says:

        Will do, but I think all that is already thicked because I had the previous version already installed, and it worked until the latest updates. Now I use that Disney+ remap app. Maybe some of that is the issue?

        • Greg says:

          It comes have you tried to email tduk about what happened or happening. You will see email in the description or Google his website

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