No Place Like Home Screen

iPhone home-screen screenshot
Collect your greatest hits: Consolidate your most-used apps on the home screen.

So you're plowing your way through this website, and you're madly downloading the 200+ picks from the Best iPhone Apps book. Yay, fun! Until, um, you actually have to find any of those apps. Wading through the quicksand of a sprawling app collection is even less fun than having a cubicle neighbor who's in love with the latest whoopie-cushion app.

A little tidying can fix you right up. Best iPhone Apps author Josh Clark recently shared some of his organizational strategies at the O'Reilly blog:

Informal testing here in the O'Reilly laboratories indicates that flipping through the book tends to triggers bouts of deliriously eager downloading. Alas, freshly minted App Store addicts quickly discover that an ever-growing mountain of installed iPhone apps can create more headaches than they collectively solve. Productivity apps become ironic jokes when it takes a full minute of flipping back and forth through screens to locate them; and there's no fun in a game that you can't even find. A healthy collection of iPhone apps calls for an equally healthy hygiene regimen for your iPhone. Here are a few pointers for keeping your apps tidy and your data safe.

Among Josh's tips:

  1. Safety First: Safeguard your privacy with a passcode.

  2. Collect Your Greatest Hits: Consolidate your most-used apps on the home screen and in the dock.

  3. Get Organized: Divide remaining screens by category, task, or state of mind.

  4. Shine the Spotlight: When all else fails, Spotlight can help you find an app in your sea of downloads.

  5. Do you really need 'em all? Prune unused apps.

Read more... Embarrassment of Riches: Managing a Mountain of iPhone Apps

iTunes 9 pitches in to help tidy up

With this month's release of iTunes 9 and iPhone 3.1, it's easier than ever to implement Josh's suggestions. The new version gives overwhelmed app collectors a gift: an easy way to organize the home screens on your iPhone or iPod Touch with your mouse, within iTunes itself:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer via USB.

  2. In the left pane of iTunes, click your iPhone to select it, and click the Applications tab to reveal the home-screen organizer:

    iTunes home-screen organizer
  3. Click a home screen from the right column to select it. Drag and drop icons within the screen or to another screen in the right column.

Got everything just the way you want it? Click the Apply button in the lower right of the iTunes window to sync your iPhone and kiss it with your new interior decorating.

Home screens, home screens, home screens

Curious what other in-the-know iPhonesters keep on their home screens? Check out First & 20, a collection of home screens from designers, developers and tech writers, along with their commentary on why they've got what they've got. The site also keeps a scoreboard of the top five apps from all the participants' home screens.

How about you? Share a comment to let us know what's on your home screen.


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5 Comments

Is there anyway to force my 32gig iPhone to hold more than it's allotted 11 pages of apps? I have plenty of memory left, but too many icons to fit them all on my phone at once.
FYI- I have put some of the built-in apps that I never use, on the last page and then have "bumped" them off screen but within days... Sometimes within minutes, they reappear, and bump MY apps out of reach - this always seems to happen when the app they bump is the very one I need most.

Please help!! At least help me understand how/why those built-ins (like weather, stocks, etc) keep forcing their (uneeded) way back onto my device. Thanks!

Sorry, the iPhone can display only 11 screens of apps. That said, and as you've discovered, you can continue adding apps beyond these 11 screens, but they won't show up on your screens -- the only way to get at those "hidden" apps is to use the search feature.

The exception is the built-in apps. Apple makes sure that those apps are always displayed in one of the 11 screens. You can't push those off into "hidden" territory.

With your home screen properly organized, you will be able to gain access to your lively applications that you constantly use. Can you only use 11 applications in your home screen? Can there be a way to gain access on other applications rather than searching them?

i wish there is a option to automatically organize icons into categories.. all apps are categorized in itunes anyways (game, educational, medical, etc..) so why get stucked with alphabetical order only?

Ok, so I have a good question … After I organized all my apps, including into folders, I'm happy. Then, on any other day, I have to sync my iPhone to charge and stuff. There go my organization … Everytime I sync my iPhone all my apps change places and goes back to the original Home Screen.

My question is: How to sync the iPhone with iTunes, without iTunes changing the organization I created for my screen?

Thank you.


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