How to keep (some) apps in the same place when you change iPad orientation

On the iPad, when you change orientation from landscape to portrait mode, only 8 of your app icons out of 20 stay in relatively the same place -- the 4 top, leftmost icons and the 4 bottom, rightmost icons. That means 12 of the icons -- more than half -- change positions, and 5 of them change rows completely.

iPhone has never done landscape mode home screens, but even if it did its 4x4 icon grid would stay the same no matter which orientation it was in. iPad's grid, however, is 4x5 in portrait and 5x4 in landscape. It's a rectangle not a square.

On one of the first episodes of the iPad live! podcast, I mentioned how this seemed to create extra mental work when looking for an app. Their position no longer being reliable and dependable, I found myself looking for them rather than just tapping them on instinct, especially the apps that wrapped to a new row when orientation changed.

Consistency is a huge part of iOS' success. UI elements in the same place tend to do the same thing. One built-in app tends to work the way other built-in apps work. And up until iPad, app icons were always in the same place on an iOS home screen.

This might seem like a minor detail, but Apple's always been a company that sweats the minor details, that almost always nails them. Steve Jobs said people don't always notice design, but they notice when it's missing.

I notice when my icons are "missing" or not in the same place just because I'm not in the same orientation.

Since I don't have a better solution in mind, however, and enjoy having 20 icons per screen, what I've started doing is placing icons I use most in those 8 relatively static positions so I know they're always top left or top right no matter what orientation I'm in.

If you've got any better tips, let me know in comments.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I suffer from the same thing, only thing I can think of is keep it on landscape mode n just keep it that way unless you have to put in on portrait mode
  • Sorry Rene, I must correct you...your dock technically doesn't move either so its 8-14 Apps dont move
  • must be Sunday, eh?
  • @Thebza451 lol
  • I think this will become moot when iOS4 for iPad is released. I feel the same way but I can see from using my iPhone 4 that it won't be a problem once I have folders. (I hope anyway)
  • actually, 6 change rows but whos counting.
  • This is why i like Iconoclasm for jailbroken iPads. I have set 5x5 icons on each screen, the rows don't change due to orientation, and the screens are more populated.
  • @George, good point. Also, there might be a few people (like myself) who didn't know you can actually stuff six icons into the dock. I just assumed it only took four and didn't even try putting more in, at first.
  • oh ma gahh!! my brain hurts searching for apps because they changed position... jobs do something before i get an aneurysm
  • @Rob, good point. I have never had this problem. I had 5x5 icons. Now, I am using 6x6.
  • As someone only recently used to the mac OS X although having used iPhone OS and iPad OS (now iOS) since they were released, the obvious thing for me that is missing from the home screen (apart from widgets) is spotlight - I know you can swipe left to find it but more often that not it is my go to place for finding apps. Not sure where i would place it unless it was an item in the dock. All the same looking forward to iOS 4.2 and folders for the iPad.
  • try using Infiniboard? and adjust icons files/columns size by 'b' x 'b' quantities so they doesnt rotate
  • Can't believe this bothers people as much as it does. It's really not a big deal to me at all.
  • So why not have the icons rotate in place?