How to see all the unread message notifications on your iPhone, all at once, all in the same place

Instant Messaging (IM) — and the notifications that come with them — are horribly fragmented. iPhone users have iMessage built-in, but if you use Facebook then you likely also have Facebook Messenger, if you use Google you likely also have Google Hangouts, if you come from BlackBerry you likely have BBM contacts, and depending on what part of the world you're in, you likely also have WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Telegram, Viber, and more all locked and loaded. That's an awful lot of beeping, buzzing, and badging to deal with. If you handle notifications the instant they come in, then it may not be a problem. If you need to go back later, hunting for little red dots all over your Home screen can be a hassle. So what's the answer? Unify them all in one folder!

Many of you might already do this, either simply out of organizational obsession or for the notification benefit that comes with it, but if you don't, give it a shot.

  1. Touch an hold a messaging app icon on your Home screen until it jiggles.
  2. Drag it on top of another messaging app icon and hold it there until it creates a new folder.
  3. Label the folder whatever you like (I use "Messaging").
  4. Drag all your other messaging app icons into the same folder.
  5. Click the Home button to finish

That's all there is to it. From now on, all your messaging apps are not only all in the same place, but the folder itself will show you the sum total of all your unread messages in one handy badge all its own.

Let me know how you organize and label your messaging apps, and if you have any other IM tips, let me know about them too!

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.

  • It's still no BlackBerry Hub. BBRY Hub is the best for unified messaging.
  • This is why Apple would be smart to approach them all and give them the option to have it all in iMessage. Why? because it benefits the user. You would still have the app icons for times when you want the single app experience. But otherwise iMessage would collect all the messages and also allow you to send using whatever one you chose. Well except for BBM :0p JK I mostly use iMessage though I do have BBM as my only cross platform IM. So I don't need a huge setup. Sent from the iMore App
  • Agreed. webOS had this, I think they called it Synergy. Texts, AOL IM, I thing you could add Facebook Messaging. Was a great feature that I still miss, though most of my messaging comes through iMessage these days. For my small group of friends that still insist on email, I use hop. Sent from the iMore App
  • I loved Synergy. Everything nicely separated into its own silos so there was no cross-contamination, but everything presented in a unified view so it all appeared to be in the same place. Wish someone would copy it already.
  • Or you know, use the notification centre. That is what it was built for. Putting all apps in the folder just adds an unnecessary step to find out which app gave out the notification.
  • I think the point was that you didn't then have lots of separate icons and folders with badges on.
  • Covered that in the article :) It's for easy Home page scanning. If you've already pulled down NC, or tapped a banner, that's a totally different use case.
  • I categorize them by what they are, games, social, utility, etc. but all my google apps are together, including hangout. I found it easy for me to put that folder next to the social media folder I created, that holds my iMore app, Facebook, mashables, verge, flipboard, four square, twitter, etc. Even though they are not in the same folder they are at least on the same screen next to each other. Sent from the iMore App
  • I disabled all notifications. I figured: I have a life.
  • Nice, and I'd agree. The fewer notifications the better. I like the K.I.S.S. Method of living, Keep it simple. To many methods of accomplishing the same thing, communicating, I'd just one big cluster ¡#+¿ in my opinion.
  • Only Messages has notifications turned on for me, because family emergencies.
  • I don't use badges...I hate badges. I only turn them on when is something extremely important, for the rest I just check notifications center.
  • "Badges?! Badges?! We don't need no stinkin' badges!" ;-)
  • To be even more clever, drag this folder into the dock...
  • Thans Rene for the suggestion.. Good one. Apple really need to work on unified inbox thing..
  • I don't know what kinda life I would have to live to require every messenger app on the marketplace. I just use iMessage and FB Message. They are next to each other and notification separation helps. Sent from the iMore App
  • What are apps which shown on that pictures?? Sent from the iMore App
  • Lol. Sounds like you guys are secretly hoping and longing for a Blackberry Hub or should i say.. IHub. When it comes to communication.. theres no comparison to the way Blackberry does it. Even old bb7 and below had the unified inbox and still no one has been able to replicate this. Thats sad. Keep the faith tho folks. Im sure Apple would copy and magically "invent" it soon.
  • Nice little tip! Thanks for sharing. Sent from the iMore App
  • Cool tip there. I found this the hard way putting messaging apps and wether apps (with badges!) on the same folder, which kept tricking me to check all those new updates I have. I tend to open the apps from notification center most of the time though... and the slight lag most have to refresh (viber and whatsapp do) kind of kills it for me
  • I've been doing this only I keep phone and email apps in the same folder. I label it Comm and stick it in the dock for easy access. That frees up the other two spots for Fantastical, Phlo & Launch Center Pro. So fat it's working pretty well. All that said I don't allow badges, can't stand the stinking badges.
  • I like the idea of putting everything that has badged notices in one folder. I think I'm going to try that, at least with the badges that call me to take notice. I also like the idea of putting that folder in the dock as a commenter suggested.