Has your iPhone gotten too messy, painful to look at, or just plain addictive? How about giving it a mini makeover to make it beautiful and more usable once again?
Try turning your phone inside out and keeping only the apps and functions you can’t do without. We’ll share a few basic tips to help you customize your iPhone with a “less is more” approach.
1. Delete Apps You Don’t Need/Use
Begin by deleting apps that you installed because they sounded interesting, fun, or useful, but never got around to using. Also dump those useless apps you bought because they were on sale. You can retrieve them from your App Store purchases if you ever need them.
Next, go ahead and delete native iOS apps that you don’t need or have replaced with a third-party alternative. Let’s say you use Evernote for note-taking, Gmail for email, and Google Maps for navigation. In that case, you can get rid of Notes, Mail, and Maps.
Deleting certain Apple apps can cause a few phone functions to go awry. So before you get rid of a stock app, check Apple’s built-in apps page to see if it’s safe to do so. But don’t worry about losing stock apps for good. You can reinstall them from the App Store anytime.
Next, trash apps that offer redundant functionality. For example, if you have a powerhouse like VLC for playing music and videos, those three other media player apps you have installed can go.
How to uninstall or delete an iPhone app: Press and hold the app you want to delete till it starts jiggling. You should see a tiny X mark at the top-left of the app icon. Tap that to uninstall the app. Then tap elsewhere on the screen to exit the uninstallation mode.
2. Move Apps Into Folders
Once you have decluttered your installed apps, it’s time to dump all but the most-used ones into one or more folders. (It’s up to you whether you want to group the apps into a single folder or organize them into multiple folders.)
That should free up quite a bit of space on your home screen. You might even be down to just a page or two of apps. Throw in a clean, stunning wallpaper and you’ve got an appealing view every time you unlock your phone. You can also get creative with the your iPhone homescreen layout.
How to create an iPhone folder: Press and hold an app to “pick it up,” then drag the app onto any other app. This will create a new folder with the two apps as its contents. Keep dragging more apps to this folder to move them in.
You don’t have to go hunting for apps that you have stashed in folders. It’s much easier and quicker to open them with Spotlight. Swipe your finger down on an empty area of the screen to reveal the Spotlight search box. Now start typing in the name of the app you’re looking for and let autocomplete take care of the rest.
Want to open apps without picking up your phone? Starting with iOS 13, you can do that and control your iPhone hands-free in other ways thanks to the Voice Control feature.
Can’t see an installed app in Spotlight results? That could be because Spotlight has run into an issue, which it does occasionally. Or you might have disabled the corresponding setting.
To make sure the app shows up in Spotlight as usual, visit Settings > Siri & Search. Select the app’s name from the list in this section and then turn on the switch for Search & Siri Suggestions.
3. Customize the Control Center and Widget Screen
When you swipe up from the home screen or the lock screen, you get access to Control Center. When you swipe right from the home screen, you’ll see the widget screen.
The beauty of these special views is that they stay out of sight and yet accessible. If you have a few useful apps here, you can toss their app icons into a folder.
For example, if you keep Calculator, Wallet, Notes, Voice Memos, and Camera in the Control Center, you never have to bother with their icons again. The same goes for widgets like WhatsApp and Calendar.
Visit Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls to customize Control Center to your liking. To start enabling/disabling widgets, swipe right from the home screen and tap the Edit button that appears on the widget screen.
4. Use Badge-Only Notifications
The ping-ping-ping of notifications can be as distracting as visual clutter. You know the fix for that: silencing app notifications. Head to Settings > Notifications to turn off the Allow Notifications slider switch for intrusive apps one by one.
As a next step, go through the app list a second time and see where you can do away with audio notifications if not visual ones.
For example, for apps like Gmail and Slack, you can switch to badge-only notifications. With this approach, you’ll still know if these apps have fresh data, but you won’t grab your phone in response to every ping.
To switch to badge-only notifications for an app, tap its name under Settings > Notifications first. On the screen that appears next, turn off the Sounds slider switch. You might also want to disable all alerts: Show on Lock Screen, Show in History, and Show as Banners. Just ensure that the Badge App Icon slider switch is on.
Along with customizing notifications, how about switching to a better communication system once and for all?
5. Enable App Restrictions
Some apps, such as your browser, are useful and addictive. If you’re intent on curbing their use, you can go the drastic route of blocking your access to such apps.
This way, you have to jump through a few hoops to re-enable access, which in turn should be enough to give you pause for thought. You’ll find yourself using the apps with more awareness, especially if you’re on a digital fast of some sort.
To block an app, a function, or a website, visit Settings > General > Restrictions and click on Enable Restrictions. Once you do, you can enable/disable:
- Apps like Safari, Camera, and iTunes Store
- Functions like app installation, location sharing, and account editing
From this section, you can also limit access to websites and the kind of content you see in various apps. Of course, these restrictions come in handy from a security and privacy standpoint as well.
Once you disable an app, its app icon will disappear too. Since you can block only a handful of apps with the default settings, you’ll need a third-party app to block everything else.
A Quieter iPhone for a Quieter Mind
Creating a minimalist iPhone experience is just the first step in curbing smartphone addiction. Of course, the addiction is not a prerequisite. You can set up a clutter-free iPhone for other reasons—because clearing out clutter is good for you.