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How to Organize App Icons on Your iPhone

Newer iPhones come with plenty of apps and more storage than most users need, even avid photographers. Most phones don’t automatically organize your apps for you, and trying to swipe through all of them or even search out the one you want to use can quickly become a hassle. 

A much better solution is to organize your iPhone applications, either alphabetically or by category.

How to use folders

Folders are one of the easiest and most effective ways to clear clutter from your iPhone screen. To put your apps in Edit mode, just tap on one icon and wait until all the icons wiggle and show a little x at the top left of each. Then, with your finger, you can move any icon around the screen. On iPhone X and later, tap Done. On iPhone 8 and earlier, press the Home button to save the new location.

If your phone supports 3D or Haptic Touch, you can tap and hold until you see the submenu where you can choose Edit Home Screen to move the app around, or Delete App to get rid of it. It’s the same icon wiggle either way.

One place to move apps is one on top of the other, which automatically creates a new folder holding the two apps. Then tap and use the keyboard to give the new folder a name that will help you identify all its resident icons and apps. Name the folder something appropriate and helpful so you can easily figure out its contents — or use the Emoji keyboard for a pictorial representation. You may want folders with apps for Photography, Drawing, Fitness, or Games — one-word or emoji descriptions work well for single app categories.

Once you have a folder set up, you can drag more apps into it. Folders can contain multiple screens. If your app collection is out of control, you may want to tackle this project in increments by sorting through single categories of apps in sequence.

How to delete and re-download apps

Deleting unneeded apps is always a good solution. If you have hundreds of apps, there are bound to be many you rarely if ever use, so get rid of them. Some may even be running operations in the background that drain your battery. To delete an iPhone app simply tap and hold on the app icon until they all start wiggling and then tap the x at the top left and tap Delete. If you think you might use the app again in the future, and don’t want to delete associated data, then go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and pick the app in question then tap Offload App instead of Delete App.

If you ever need to use that app again, you can re-download it from the app store whenever you want. Apps you have previously downloaded or purchased may have a Get or a cloud icon next to them in the App Store for downloading. You can view your entire purchasing history to re-download any app you have used on your device at any time. Go to Settings > User name > iTunes and App Store > Apple ID > View Apple ID > Purchase History. You may have to type in your Apple ID or password. There you will see all the apps you have ever downloaded in chronological order, whether they were paid or free. Tap on Date Range and you can find all the apps you used by year and re-download any ones you have deleted.

How to organize apps on home screens and the dock

It’s possible that even after you’ve sorted all your apps into handy folders, you could still end up with several screens full of apps. Now is the time to start specifically organizing your folders in a convenient way. On the front screen, you may want to have your most frequently accessed apps, or perhaps the default apps that Apple includes. Alternately, you may not like the folder technique because of the extra searching involved in looking through the folders, but prefer just dedicating screens or parts of screens to specific categories of apps.

You can move icons to various positions on the same screen, or move them to a different screen by dragging the icon to the edge so that it moves automatically. When you’re moving apps around on the screen you don’t have to do one at a time. You can tap and hold an icon until it wiggles,  and then start dragging it. Once you start moving it around, you can tap other apps with another finger to move them all to another screen or folder.

Let’s not forget about the Dock at the bottom of the phone. Apple places certain apps it thinks most people will always use in the most accessible place, but you can sub out the apps that reside in the dock for any apps you prefer.

There is a simple way to navigate between multiple app pages: A bright dot in a row of dots above the Dock identifies which page you’re on. You can move an app to a different page or create new pages. If there are dots to the left or right of the bright dot, you can drag an app to the right side of the screen to move the app to the next page or swipe left to see the apps on that page. If there are no dots to the right of the bright dot, dragging an app to the right creates a new page. It’s also nice to leave the bottom row of your screen empty if you can because that frees up space to move apps around without displacing your arrangement, leaves room for you to try out new apps you’re not sure you want to keep, and maintains an uncluttered look.

How to search for apps

You can find specific apps quickly by searching directly for them. You can drag down from the middle of the screen to initiate a search and your search can be an app name or a general category. If you search for “video”, you may get the Camera app or other video recording apps you have that are derived from the keywords that developers apply to their apps. That means you don’t have to remember the exact name of the app in order to search for it. Search is especially useful if you have arranged your apps visually by color or alphabetically by app name.

How to set default app layout

If all else fails, and you can’t decide, do not like what you’ve done, or just want to start over, you can set your iPhone to the original default app layout that came with your iPhone. Go to Settings > General > Reset >Reset Home Screen Layout > Reset Home Screen and you’re free to start all over again. Any apps you added later appear after the default layout.

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