Tip o' the Week: App Sorting


It seems like ages ago that our iPhones were updated to allow moving icons around and, lo and behold, even to a 2nd (and 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) screen! Back then, it was gratifying to have the capability to do it, but unless you had a ton of web pages bookmarked and web apps galore, there wasn't much need to go beyond screen #2, maybe to screen #3.

Now, everything has changed. With the advent of the iTunes App Store, there are a bazillion apps available for download, many of them FREE! If you are like me, you've already downloaded like crazy and now you're staring at an iPhone with apps occupying six screens of real estate and threatening a seventh. Feeling more and more like a hoarder every day, I need to get organized! How so on the iPhone? Read on for this week's Tip!

The iPhone isn't your grandpappy's phone. Nosiree! There are no "categories" to sort your apps into. One thing I miss when I'm using my iPhone is the feature found on a basic Palm device - categories. Sorting apps is easy if you can put them in their own "bucket". With the iPhone, we're pretty much left to our own devices with respect to organizing our apps. Perhaps this is so because, aside from bookmarked web pages and web apps, 3rd party apps were not considered at first.

Now, we have to make some choices with respect to organizing the growing number of apps on our iPhones. I've decided to include a couple of the more obvious methods, and then I'm throwing this problem out to everyone else - "everyone else" is YOU, faithful reader. Leave your comments and/or get cracking in the forums if you haven't done so already!

Here are some sorting methods in my order of preference:

  1. Popularity - place the apps you use the most on the first couple screens. Don't be afraid to move some of the default Apple apps off the front page, especially the ones you seldom use. You'll create more instant access to your prime-time apps!
  2. Categories - although there is no way to designate categories on the iPhone, you can sort them in categories of your own by memory. For example, your first screen could be your most accessed apps, your "home" screen. The next screen could be apps that you classify as "utilities", then "media", "web apps", "games", and so on. If one category is far and away larger than the rest, put it at the end so you have room to add more!
  3. Alphabetical - simply A to Z; could be challenging for some, but ask a friend for help if you get stuck.
  4. Chaos Theory - just don't worry about it and let them all fall where they may. The nice thing about the iPhone is the ease of flipping to the next screen. All the apps are large icons for easy finding. No worries.
  5. WARNING: this method is NOT tested by TiPb and you're on your own with this one. Peter Ha over at CrunchGear has posted a method for moving apps to a mysterious and invisible 10th screen. Apparently, you can push apps into the iPhone Ether (a virtual storage area when the number of apps on your iPhone exceed 148. Wow.)
How do YOU do it? Any additions to the ideas above? Any suggestions for Apple to improve their app sorting (given how magnificently sorted they are on iTunes? Ahem.)? Leave your thoughts!
That's it for this week's Tip. If you have a tip of your own that you would like to share with the rest of us, please leave a Comment or you can email me at: brian.hart@tipb.com.

Disclaimer:  Tip o' the Week makes no guarantee, express or implied, that any tip found herein will be new or particularly useful to the reader (and I certainly make no promises or guarantees about the mysterious 10th screen. Gate to Hell, maybe? Or El-Jobso's oxygenated sleep chamber?). 

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!


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Reader comments

Tip o' the Week: App Sorting


I actually have my main apps on the 3rd screen (7 total). That way, since I would always start on main when I wake up the phone, I have to make a maximum of 2 motions either way to get to the app I need.

I've had my apps organized for quite a while. Page 1 has note apps, RSS and ones I use every day like mail & safari, next page is games then photo apps then utilities and music, then chat and other. A while ago, I discovered that you also move icons around in the bottom bar so I now have phone, calendar, google mobile and ipod so I don't have to hunt around.
My web apps are in a single folder now using AppMarks - if only I could do this with the iphone, I'd have far more than the 100 or so apps I've already got. I'm sure such a process would be possible then Apple and the developers could make even more money!!

If you've jailbroken your iphone you have another, and in my opinion far superior choice.
Download 'Categories' from Cydia
Its my number one application which has been created by BigBoss, enabling you to create folders on your home screen into which you can group your applications. The folders can be named anything you like i.e. Media, Music etc and can have there own icons too.
More information can be found fromhttp://sleepers.net/news/category/categories/

I use 2 apps for my JB (2G) phone - both available through Cydia - 1) QuickGold; and 2) Dock.
1) With QuickGold, you tap the home button and a search screen opens. Type in the first couple/three characters of the app you want to open and you're presented with matches. The time it takes to search is equal to the time it would take to open your springboard and find the application. (FYI - this app also searches contacts, too.)
2) Dock is a categories app where you swipe from the bottom of the screen upwards. You're presented with your chosen categories - and simply swipe to choose the app you want to open. Again, requires minimal time and effort.
What I like best is my springboard isn't cluttered with a multitude of icons; making these 2 programs especially handy if you have lots of apps. With both QuickGold and Dock, you can use BossPrefs to hide everything while still having access to the apps.
The only icons that reside on my springboard are the 5 in my dock - which are the top used: phone, text, email, safari, and speed dial. Click here for an example using dock: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v474/dkaye/IMG_0003.png

I keep similar apps together
Screen 1 Standard apps. 2. Note taking and blogging 3. News sites 4. Social networking and books 5. Overspill.
But all the screens are full and reorganising icons is tedious, but I will have to think again soon.

I haven't jailbroken my phone, but I was going to link to the categories app.
This is one of the main reasons to jailbreak is so you can do things that should be there in the first place.

yes gegy, that's a perfect example of the categories app. When he goes to the 2nd screen and launches the games folder that is the categories app in action opening to reveal all his game apps

Big PITA that you can't organize them.
Categories would be the way to go. They could go alpha there, but I'd love a "static" home row on each category for my "top 4" just above the default 4 (at the bottom of every page).
Apple doesn't provide much for the Apps once you have them.
From iTunes, they don't even give you a way to get back to the original store screen, to the program author or the support pages. You gotta do a "get info" just to find out how big a program is. If I love the "artist" (author) I have to go do a search, unlike the music where you can do a quick click on the arrow and go back to the artist (abum?) page.


Has anyone heard of an app for iPhone or one that works with iTunes on the desktop that would keep track of how often I access my iPhone apps? (I have to imagine Apple has thought to collect that information themselves) I've tried sorting apps first by which ones I think I access most often, then by general theme of game/fun vs more utilitarian apps on screens after the second one. However, no matter how much thought I give to this, I eventually find myself flipping back 5 or 6 screens to regularly access an app I hadn't realized I use so often. I'm still a little afraid to jailbreak, so I'm bound for the moment to Apple's limitations. Any ideas on an easy way to figure out statistically which apps I access most often?