Do you have 11 screens (or more) on your iPhone and sometimes come across apps you don’t even remember downloading? Then, like me, you might be in need of some iPhone app spring cleaning.
Before I embarked on this seemingly mountainous task, the only way I could ever find an app was by using the search tool. Now, I’m down to six screens and have a system for dealing with new apps.
Of course, once the next version of iPhone OS launches in a few months, the anticipated “Folders” feature should make app organization much easier. Until then, however, iPhone owners need to have a plan of attack for getting their home screens under control. Read on for a step-by-step guide to achieving iPhone sanity.
Trash the Apps You’re Not Using
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in letting my apps build up to the point of chaos. However, I assure you, there’s something quite satisfying about getting rid of things you no longer use. Luckily, trashing iPhone apps is easy.
You can remove apps in one of two ways. Delete apps straight from iTunes, where you’ll be given the choice to trash the files or just remove it from view. Or, on your iPhone, by pressing and holding down an app and then pressing the “X” on the upper left-hand corner of the app in question (however, this will not remove the app from iTunes). Be merciless, as you can always get the app again, especially if you’re leaving it on iTunes.
Note: You can’t delete native apps, but you can certainly move them around to fit your use.
Organize Your Home Screen
There is no room for wasted space on your home screen. Since this is the easiest screen to get to in one click, the apps here must be optimized for your use. You can move anything on this page, including the native apps. You can even rearrange the bar at the bottom. For instance, I replaced the iPod icon with the Messages icon, since I use the text messaging app more often. Apps that go on the front screen should score highly in at least one of two categories:
Frequency of use (e.g. E-mail)
Need for quick access (e.g. Maps)
Categorize your Apps
The screens where you keep your apps should not be a haphazard or random collection. Each screen should have a theme or category that makes sense to you. Here’s how I categorized my iPhone:
Location-Based Apps (e.g. Yelp, Foursquare)
Productivity Apps (e.g. Tweetdeck, Evernote)
Finance and Fitness (e.g. Mint.com and RunKeeper)
Games and Novelty (e.g. DoodleJump and Moodagent)
Misc. and Other (Apps I’m testing as well as native apps I don’t use)
When Apple releases the iPhone OS 4 update in a few months, most iPhone users will gain access to a brand new “Folders” feature. Folders on the iPhone will allow you to group certain apps together in a way that may resemble the Stacks feature in Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6. The new feature will bump the total possible number of apps you can keep on your iPhone from 180 to a whopping 2160 (assuming you have enough memory).
While it may seem like a recipe for more clutter, if used properly, Folders should make it easier to keep your phone organized. Further, Apple’s iPhone OS 4 Game Center should simplify the way that you organize and keep track of the mobile games you play.
Tools to Help
If you use a lot of mobile web apps (mobile web pages designed to function on the iPhone), you should check out Web Apps, which allows you to categorize them, all under one app icon, for 99 cents — pretty useful.
If you have a jailbroken iPhone, you should definitely get the Categories app by Big Boss. It allows you to create folders on your main screen to avoid the endless flipping that’s often required to find the app you want.
Folder functionality has long been a much-needed feature on the iPhone, and it is coming in official capacity in a few months. However, if you decide you can’t wait that long and you think it’s worth potentially incurring Apple’s wrath (they’ll void your warranty if you jailbreak your phone), the Categories app is a way to get all that foldery goodness instantly.
More iPhone resources from Mashable: