iPhone and iPad Productivity

5 Handy Tips for Organizing Your iPhone and iPad Apps More Effectively

Tim Brookes 16-02-2018

Often find yourself wading through pages of icons, looking for that certain app? There’s a better way. Learn to organize your iPhone home screen properly, and use a few extra tips to find the right app every time.


Here are out favorite tips and tricks for a more productive iPhone. Don’t forget that our iPhone cheatsheet has many more.

Remember: You Can Always Search With Spotlight

search with spotlight on ios

This isn’t really an organizational trick, rather a super-handy way of always finding the app you’re looking for (provided you can remember its name).

Simply pull-down on the home screen to reveal the search bar (or slide left and tap Search) and type the name of the app.

Another alternative is to simply ask Siri to launch the app for you The Master List of Every Siri Command and Question Siri can do a lot for you, but did you know she could do this much? Here's an exhaustive list of commands Siri will take. Read More .


1. Reset Your Home Screen Layout

reset screen layout on ios

Things really gone amiss? Start again with a fresh home screen—just like Apple intended.

Head to Settings > General > Reset and choose Reset Home Screen Layout. This will place all of Apple’s default apps on your main home screen, with apps you’ve downloaded and folders you’ve created on subsequent screens.

While the default layout might not be to your tastes, this is a pretty useful way to separate apps and start re-arranging things on your home screen.


2. Pick a Scheme and Stick to it

pick a scheme to organize iphone apps

The biggest aid to being productive on your iPhone is consistency. You can approach app sorting from several different directions, but they only work if you enforce your own rules so that you can find what you want.

For some ideas, consider organizing your apps:

  • Alphabetically: Tried and tested, but may result in way too many homescreens if you don’t use folders. Consider creating folder “bins” for your apps (e.g. “A-C” and “D-F” and so on).
  • By color: Maybe your brain works better by associating colors. A scheme like this can see Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all grouped together, while WhatsApp, Messages, and Spotify sit off to the side.
  • By association: Placing similar apps next to each other is another option. You could have a screen for work tools like Slack, Evernote, and OneDrive, some games on another, and your core Mail, Messages, and Safari front-and-center.
  • By action: This applies to folders. Rather than opting for vague terms like “shopping” or “news”, lead with an actionable verb (e.g. listen, read, or watch). Then when you’re looking for an app, all you need to do is determine the app’s purpose to quickly find the relevant folder (and similar applications).

While organizing, keep in mind the way gestures can help you move around between apps 9 Essential iPad Gestures You Need to Start Swiping Like a Pro Every iPad owner should know about the variety of gestures for faster navigation. Master these for greater iPad productivity. Read More .


3. Make Better Use of Folders

use folders to organize iphone apps

Folders are a bit of a mixed bag on iOS. One of my favorite ways to use them is to increase the usefulness of the iOS dock by putting a folder in it.

The folder will remain accessible from any homescreen, and it’s a handy technique to use if you have a lot of favorite apps you find yourself reaching for all the time.

There’s actually no limit on the number of folders you can put in the dock, but two seems to be a sensible limit. This part of the home screen is designed for apps like Messages and Mail that you find yourself requiring quick access to all the time.


use folders to organize iphone apps

Folders are a necessary evil if you have lots of apps, but they often don’t make finding things very easy. A lot of this is down to naming conventions since it’s hard to categorize many apps. Using actions to name your folders as per our tip above can help, but if you want something a little easier on the eye why not use emoji?

Not only can it look great, it can let you improvise your own naming conventions using smileys, animals, food, and activities. You can get more specific with sub-categories, or use multiple emojis to denote app groupings (e.g., cycling, hiking and football).

4. Create a Home Screen That’s Useful to You

organize home screen on iphone or ipad

This probably sounds obvious, but we all use our iPhones differently. Some of us launch the same four apps every day and rarely venture off the path. Others might download ten games per week. Maybe you’re a runner or cyclist who uses apps like Strava and Spotify on a regular basis, but not every day.

Your first home screen is for your most useful apps. It’s best to leave folders for the second home screen, since your first home screen provides single-tap access to the really useful stuff.

Wondering which apps you tend to use the most? Settings > Battery will provide a breakdown of battery usage by app, tap the clock icon to see a breakdown of how long you’ve used each app.

Your second screen is a great place to put folders, since it doesn’t require too many swipes and taps to access. If you don’t have a lot of apps, you can get rid of folders entirely.

Does it take you too long to launch an app on a consistent basis? Move that app closer to the front. Demote things you no longer use. Keep evolving your home screen based on usage to keep it relevant and useful. You might want to add website shortcuts to your iPhone home screen How to Add Website Shortcuts to the iPhone Home Screen Here's how to make any website an app on your iPhone, allowing you to access shortcuts right from your home screen. Read More to access your favorite sites quickly.

Don’t fall into the trap of leaving apps like LinkedIn on your home screen because you think you really should be using them. This also applies to the dock!

5. Remove Things You Don’t Need

delete unused apps on iphone or ipad

iOS 11 introduced a much-requested feature: stock apps you can finally delete! Apple now lets you download apps like Contacts and Stocks from the App Store, so you can delete what you don’t want until you really need it. No more throwing useless apps into an “unused” folder. Just delete them!

Other apps you can get rid of, or at least bury in a folder:

Don’t get rid of all these just yet, though—your iPhone’s default apps hide some great secret functions.

Once you’ve got all your apps organized, be sure to take a look at which apps offer iPhone widgets and see how you can put them to good use The 10 Best iPhone Widgets (And How to Put Them to Good Use) iPhone widgets let you access app information at a glance and can be extremely useful. Here are some of the best iPhone widgets. Read More .

Related topics: iOS Launcher, Productivity, Siri, Spotlight.

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  1. Frustrated
    February 18, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Resetting the home screen doesn’t keep the folders!
    I now have hundreds of apps that need putting back into folders. You made it sound like it would just bring the Apple apps back to the front

    • gamblinwad
      February 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      Who has/needs hundreds of apps? But still, a warning would've been nice.