There are probably almost as many ways to organize your iPhone apps as there are iPhone users, and most of us have probably experimented with a bunch of them. But more than eight years later of using a method, first tried back in 2013 (that screen size! those icons!).
Instead of organizing apps by what they do, organize them by where when I use them ….
For quite a while, the most logical way to organize my apps: by category. For example, You had a bunch of chat apps in a folder called, imaginatively enough, Chat. Camera and other photography-related apps were in a folder called Photography. And so on.
But as the number of apps grew, there came a point where the cracks in that approach started to show themselves. First, there was the question of remembering how I’d categorized an app. When I first started using Dropbox, for example, it was almost exclusively for business use, so it went into a Business folder. Later, however, it became a much more general tool.
Second, although a bunch of apps might belong in the same category, that might lump together apps I used all the time with apps I hardly ever used. For example, I went through a phase of using GarageBand a lot (to kind of pretend I could play an instrument… ), and that was in the same Entertainment folder as Kindle, which I used only if I’d forgotten to take my physical Kindle on a trip.
To be clear, use categorized folders – but only for apps I hardly ever use. The apps you use frequently are organized by usage occasion.
Organize your iPhone apps by context/place
For example, You have apps you use all the time at home. While my Mac is your primary device when you are sitting at your desk, in the evening you more likely to use your iPhone to simply check email or play some music.
There are other apps you can use almost exclusively while you are out and about. BBC News and The Guardian, for example, are news apps that you can use to quickly catch up on the world while you are on the move, while at home you can use the website on your Mac. WordPress on your phone is another example of an app you can only ever use while mobile – used when you come up with an idea for a piece you want to write, and you just create a new post to jot down a few notes you can use as a prompt when you are sitting at your desk.
The third major category for is travel. When you are in another country, make extensive use of apps like Google Translate and Revolut (used because the card gives the best exchange rate, and you can use the app to freeze the card between uses). There are also apps you can use only when in a specific country, like the Western Union app to send yourself cash – so you don’t have a subfolder for that, given you’ve now taken to spending one month a year there.
So effectively you have three Home screens:
- At home
Each of these has the main apps you use in each of these situations, with the Dock used for the key apps you can use everywhere.
Of course, one can argue that there’s little need to organize apps at all: just stick your most-used ones on the Home screen, then use search for everything else.
you can use search for apps that are either used out-of-context (for example, to access a travel app while I’m at home), or an app used so infrequently that it’s in one of my categorized folders. But you can still find it a smoother experience to have instant access to the apps you are most likely to use in any given circumstance.