Weird iPhone habits: Open slots, default layouts, and ringer switches, oh my...

Smartphones and other mobile technology are very personal devices. Not just that they're something that we have on us all the time, but they're devices that we customize to suit exactly our needs and our needs alone. We get used to how they're set up, and if we're handed somebody else's iPhone, well, we're lost. Just try dealing with somebody who has different Smart Corner settings on their Mac than you - it's maddening.

In customizing the set-ups for our devices we also customize our interactions with them. We develop weird habits and tendencies. Some of us are compulsive about the placement of icons in the launcher, others only want specific things in Notification Center. Sometimes it's about where we put the phone, and sometimes we just don't give a damn about some things that drive others insane.

Upon realizing that I do some weird and obsessive things with my iPhone, I asked the iMore editorial staff what weird things they do, and it turns out, we're weird. But you already knew that.

Keeping a slot open for... - Allyson Kazmucha

Keeping a slot open for...

My main screen on my iPhone and iPad are my most used apps. If I don't use them on a regular basis, they're all put into folders and not allowed to run amuck causing chaos. I don't alphabetize things but they all have to be in correct folders under a descriptive category. My iPhone and iPad also have the same workflow so no matter what device I'm on, I know where to find things.

I'm super picky about Notification Center and what order notifications show up in. Things like email, messages, and Twitter must populate towards the top with lesser important things on the bottom.

My biggest nitpick is ugly icons. If an app has an ugly icon, it goes in a folder, no exceptions. My Home screen must be visually appealing at all times and an ugly icon will throw off that balance. Album art must also be present for everything in my music library or it makes me twitch in cover flow mode. I will literally delete a song from my iPhone if there is no album art.

My weirdest quirk is probably that I need to have at least one empty slot on my first Home screen. I'm not quite sure why but I've done this as long as I can remember. I don't know why it bothers me to have a full page of icons but it does and I must have one free slot on my main page or I feel dirty. Call me weird, I already know I am and I accept it.

Default all the things - Chris Parsons

Default all the things

I have to have my main home screen stock. I do it on all devices except for Android, because Android such a cluster f*** of ugly icons some of it has to be hidden.

Triple-teaming the ringer switch - Derek Kessler

Triple-teaming the ringer switch

I know the ringer switch vibrates when I switch it to silent and doesn't when I flip it to noise. But when switching from silent to ring without looking at the screen, I always have to flip it three times: ring, silent (so it buzzes), and back to ring. Sometimes I do the same thing when switching to silent: silent (buzz), ring, silent (buzz). I don't know why, but it's like I subconsciously don't trust the switch.

I'm a little psychotic about my app organization. The first page is home to the apps I use the most, and those are alphabetically arranged (excepting the dock). The next page is also alphabetically arranged, with my tier of second-most-used apps but not daily or need-quickly apps out and everything else is put into folders which are... alphabetically-arranged and separated. The only exception are my games, which are put into their own folder, yet still alphabetical inside. Reason being: I'm usually looking for a specific app (except for games), not a category of apps, and muscle memory can guide me. And organization, man.

Updates… what updates? - Georgia

Updates… what updates?

The strangest thing about myself and my iPhone is that I rarely let it be far from my side.

So if I have to go somewhere and my outfit has no pockets ill place my phone in the inside of my pant belt so I can keep my previous close at hand.

My phone is also always on silent with no vibration on. So calling me rarely gets a immediate pick up. I started this due to my job as a therapist but then quickly realized that I am more relaxed when I am not hopping for my phone.

I also don't ever update my phones applications unless there is something I really want in the update. Strange part is that I never read what the update so I find things out by people telling me something cool has changed. At one point I had 150 plus updates on my phone.

And no I don't wear my iPhone as a hat, that rumor was a lie.

Weirdos all of you - Leanna Lofte

Weirdos, all of you

Um... I don't do anything weird with my iPhone that I know of. I don't organize my apps... my home screen isn't even that thought out. I could care less how my apps are organized because I just use Spotlight. Spotlight is way faster.

You're all a bunch of freaks.

That like-new look - Peter Cohen

That like-new look

I like to leave the home screen bone stock.

I pile it full of apps on the second page and beyond, but I want my home screen to look like it did when it came out of the box.

Captain Default - Rene Ritchie

Captain Default

I keep my iPhone Home screen stock. What Apple loads, I keep. That's because I switch devices and restore devices a lot. I do add a few apps to the empty spaces, namely Fantastical, the iMore app, and Tweetbot. If I haven't switched or restored in a while, I'll add Launch Center Pro to my dock, because, awesome.

So I may not be Captain Default exactly, but I'm not Mr. Excitement by any means either.

Line it up - Richard Devine

Line it up

I'm absolutely no tidy freak, far from it. Just take a look in my office any given day of the week and you'll see that. But, for whatever reason I am totally OCD about where stuff sits on my desk, especially my iPhone. It has to be in one of the corners, and it has to sit absolutely in line with both straight edges of the desk.

I also put it on something, like a magazine, or some random paper. Because I don't keep it in a case at home -- cases aren't nice in hero shots -- and I absolutely hate the idea of any thing on the desk damaging or just making dirty the back of my phone.

How weird are you?

There you go, we've bared our weirdness to the world, and, well… what weird people we are. It takes some self awareness to realize these oddities, and if there's anything we should be as technology users, it's aware of how we use that tech.

We're all weird, but in our own unique ways. Except for the Captain Default crowd out there, you're just weird together. What weird iPhone habits and compulsions have you picked up over the years? Sound off in the coments.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • I also leave at least one empty slot on my home screen!
  • I do the empty space too!!! But i do it only in the second page cuz the first one has to be stock :P hahah
  • All of you are weird and with that then so am I as it seems I have a bit of all of you in me in the way I have to have my iPhone too. You should have interviewed me for this article.
  • I'm a hybrid of several of these...
    1) I leave 1 spot open on each home screen
    2) I leave my first screen with all default Apple icons
    3) The 2nd page is strictly regularly used apps then everything else is in folders
  • this was actually a fun read.. I have a mixture of almost everyone.. lol.. enjoyed it
    That phone is one of the LEAST CUSTOMIZABLE phones on the market!
    But you guys are STILL getting your panties in a bunch over having to use someone elses handset (to the point that you're incapable of using it)?
    You guys have nothing to complain about until you have to get used to someone else's LAUNCHER in addition to their different choice of screen transitions, gestures, system keyboard, system sounds, system font, icon size, number of rows and columns for icon grid (which don't just wrap), etc....
  • Hahaha yeah I bet that's maddening. I've got an iPhone and a One, and I still haven't gotten the One sorted out to be acceptable to me.
  • Valid point. If I'm using someone else's iPhone, I just spotlight what I'm looking for if I don't see it immediately. Android, I just set it down, and back away slowly....
  • I keep the last row of my home screen blank lol. great article!
  • I DO THE SAME! I do it with all of my screens. It just looks nicer, and feels cleaner.
  • After trying a handful of methods I finally came up with my personal organization technique. First, I keep the bottom row of clear of any apps because I think it looks very clean. It was difficult selecting which apps made it on my main screens, but switching to the iPhone 5 granted me a much needed extra row. My first two screens are split up by category -- fun and business. The fun screen includes social media, news and entertainment apps, and the business screen is for utilities, finance and productivity apps. My third page is for categorized folders that contain most of my remaining apps.
  • @Georgia, I love your tendancy to not update. I remember a podcast a year ago where it was discussed an you indicated that you like had hundreds of mac updates waiting and simply didn't care. Hilarious. A great contrast to the I must have the latest update crowd. That immediately vaulted you to the top of my favorite imore personalities. (Derek: honorable mention because you spell your name wrong. lol) side note: I never update my computer but compulsively update my iphone apps as i hate that red circle.
  • My habits:
    home screen only has 4 top row icons, nothing in the middle to see wallpaper.
    Icons have most used, ones closet to the home page
    stuff rarely used are in folders, and on the last page.
    I can't have icon gaps. they all must be filled in.
    Nothing is alphabetized, simply within a folder, most used apps are always towards the top.
  • Why thank you. Just why break something that isn't broken.
    I always worry the update will ruin something or change something I don't want changed.
    You need to learn to be one with the red circle, love it
  • My favorite is when I update an app and it causes it to crash constantly. Sigh... too bad i can't stand badges on the App Store app. That overrides my sense of logic.
  • EXACTLY!!! Way too many times i've updated windows (yeah i'm on a windows machine. sorry) and broken the whole darn machine. Two days later i have the darn thing dismantled and windows discs out trying to clean install and wondering, "What kinda moron updates windows explorer when i never ever ever uses it." If it ain't broke. Red Circle? Nope. I'm a Virgo. Things need to be in order. lol. Darn red circle bugs me. "Go away circle! Stop looking at me! Fine! I'll update." Oh Exception: Gmail app. I use the native email app more and for some reason i'm fine with the Gmail App having a red icon with 232 unread. lol.
  • I keep the apps I might need to get to fast on the first page even if I don't use them much, Second page I keep stuff I use alot and games on however Many pages I need after that and a folder on the last page of Defaults and stuff I can Quickly access from launch center, I keep my phone on Vibrate most of the time Because I just find Noise on the small Speakers Annoying
  • I use spotlight mostly as well. My apps are all over the place.
  • Folders!!!!
    I hate having to scroll between panes so I make folders (productivity, games, social/web, books
  • cool beans
  • "If an app has an ugly icon, it goes in a folder" made me laugh a lot. It had never even occurred to me that anyone would be OCD enough to alphabetize their apps (mine are all in category folders). That said- I do update each device at least once a day whenever I pick it up (I have a 5 or 6, as I'm a developer, so it does get to be a pain) and I also do the triple-mute-switch thing.
  • hahahaha yeah i'm really weird about aesthetics and i don't like ugly icons :P
  • Allyson Kazmucha: The Abercrombie and Fitch of icon organization. just kidding.
  • I change my home pictures and lock screen pic all the time. I cant stand the badge icon telling you that you have 5 emails unchecked or 10 podcast not played so i read emails right away, or remove that option in the notification settings. I always had 2 home screens nice and neat but i just moved to 3 now all games are in there own folder also picture apps and some more. Is that weird lol
  • I have exactly the same organizational habits as Allyson, including the blank space on the home screen...and it's interesting that others here do that as well, or variations like an empty row. There's something about not wanting to see that first screen filled to capacity that just seems right to some of us. I wonder why that is?
  • "because Android such a cluster f*** of ugly icons some of it has to be hidden." Because Touch wiz is such a cluster f*** of ugly icons some of it has to be hidden. Fixed.
  • thats so right!!
  • I always immediately update apps, I despise the notification bubble on my apps.
    I organize my apps by most used, every so often I'll put them in folders and all on the home screen, and then I get tired of opening folders and reorganize by most used. From left to right top to bottom like a book.
    I've also decided to leave my sounds default so it sounds like every iPhone on TV.
    I switch cases far too often and I want more. I want to find a nice balance of protection, minimalism and flash with the exterior of my phone.
  • Habits of mine: The main home screen is the default layout with the stock iOS wallpaper. Every subsequent home screen will only have a 4x4 grid of icons (I refuse to use the fifth row) and folders must only occupy the right column. I always have to be on the main home screen when I lock my iPhone or I will unlock it and put it there. I refuse to use apps that have a crappy icon. Every song MUST have album artwork and correct metadata which is why I don't use iTunes Match on my phone. I quit all non-stock apps as soon as I close them. There's probably a bunch of other little things I'm forgetting.
  • I'm definitely the type of person that has to have every app except Music, Messages, and Twitter in a folder and everything has to be in alphabetical order. Which was one of my main reasons for jailbreaking my device, to have folders inside of folders with unlimited space. My homescreen is completely empty so I can fully enjoy my wallpaper. I HAVE to have the correct information and album art for all of my songs. Notifications have to be in a specific order. My contacts have to have first AND last names, no nicknames or anything added. I close every app when I'm done using it except for Settings, Camera, and Music. Every badge HAS to be checked as soon as possible, I hate seeing those little numbers, but I refuse to turn badges off.
  • I'm the exact opposite of Georgia. I have to have things updated. I hate bubbles on apps/folders. I update apps asap and make sure to clear/view emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, and missed calls/voicemails promptly. My dad's phone always has several un-listened to voicemails and probably no less than 130 unread emails at any given time. It drives me crazy. So far I haven't seen anyone mention this habit: I move all my icons to the 2nd page, and have the 1st page empty. I like to see my wallpaper. I also put all my apps in folders by category, except for Calendar, Weather, Passbook, Camera, and my dock apps for phone, sms, email, and Safari. Games/Sports/News/Misc apps go on the 3rd page. Store apps folder, utilities, productivity, travel/navigation, social, remote (vivint, nest, Apple's Remote app, Sonos), and Shopping folders go on the 2nd page. When jailbroken I keep all my folders cut down via infinifolders and use infinidock to add extra apps to the dock. I also dislike bulky cases. I usually only use front/back screen protectors and bumper cases, usually from Spigen.
  • I got anxious just reading that reply. I think it's my opposition to being controlled that makes he feel good ignoring the updates :) I do get others need to get rid of them though
  • I'm actually a lot like claustin. Having bubbles on my apps is a no-no... it drives me absolutely insane. My first page is filled with apps that are most likely to have bubbles (Facebook, Hangouts, GroupMe, etc.). Anything on pages after are things that rarely-if-ever would have bubbles (Pandora, games, etc).
  • bumpers rock! and a glare screen protector.
  • I'm Mr. Hyper Organised. Every single app, including the stock apps goes into a folder. No app is allowed to stand alone. Folders on my home screen in alphabetical order and apps in folders in alpha order to. Folders in the dock too, except for the Phone icon which is the only one I allow to stand alone. And only one home screen. Hate having more than one home screen. And like jwalk128, I have contacts organised, and check every single badge because I too hate seeing those red badges. And I clear out my phone log daily. As well as my messaging/iMessage conversations. But no, I'm not OCD or anything!
  • OCD for the win. My main screen cannot have more than 8 icons (4s) and when I get a 5 Im sure that will remain 8 or maybe 12. But I can't have any weird dangling chad or "open spaces" on any but the last screen or in folders. On my main screen I have: Calendar, TeuxDeux, Photos, Camera on top, then Contacts, Notes, Clock and Settings on the 2nd row. My "launch pad" on the bottom is Phone, Mail, Messages and Safari. My 2nd screen is all foldered apps, 12 folders exactly, and they're organized by type: Graphics, Photography, Financial, Utilities, Travel, Food/Health, Shopping 1, Shopping 2, Entertainment, "Stuff", Social, Games. If I fill up a folder and need space, app I haven't used in a while (or ever) gets deleted. On page 3, I have Newstand and Passbook, two things that I don't use or probably won't ever use on my phone because I can't get my magazines subs on my Newstand on my phone, and Passbook isn't what it should be yet so I don't bother. They're on page three to hide them since I can't totally folder them or delete them. Notifications are only allowed from Mail, Messages, Phone and Calendar, all in lock screen, with a ding of some kind and popup banner. All other notifications are off. All location services are off with exception of Find my iphone, unless immediately in use, then I turn them right back off. Wifi and BT are off unless I need them and then as soon as I am done I turn them back off. And I almost always update my apps within 24 hours if not immediately. My phone is always in a hard case, with a screen protector, and unless it is on a charger, I have a rubber "charge port plug thing" in the charge port to keep dust and splashes out, and I always have a little plug protector in the headphone jack as well, bec I only use the headphones when on a plane. If I am not in my house, my phone goes in another soft case pouch, and then into my purse, because even naked it doesn't fit in my jeans pocket (chick jeans do not have large man pockets!) or I carry it if Im just running somewhere. I NEVER toss it, I am super anal-retentive about placements.
  • I like knowing there are a few other nuts like me.
  • I have two icons in the dock and right now it's KitCam and the iPhone native camera. My home screen is blank so I can have a nice photo (one that I took) and nothing else. Then on every screen thereafter I leave the bottom row empty so when I swipe from screen to screen I don't accidentally open an app. Screen 2 is the apps I use most, positioned around the outside of the circle of 12 (I'm on a 4S) and the two in the middle are next in priority. 3rd screen is the same concept. The rest of the screens have apps grouped in folders by category and the folders are listed alphabetically.
  • I don't like folders. Each screen is therefore separated into categories...default, media, games, utilities, networks. Also need 1 open space. No ugly icons. No notifications except for txt and phone. No duplicate type of apps for the same use ie 2 note apps, calendars.
  • My lock screen is always my cat, my home screen a band. My brightness is always really low. All my music has custom covers.
  • 1st page - default apps, but rearranged
    2nd page - folders, lots of folders (categorized) for my apps
  • I also don't like to have more than 3 home pages
  • this is a great article I have always wanted to know what is on your guys home screens. Why we are all fascinated to know is beyond me but we are.
  • 1st page - 8 stock apps on the iPhone 5. So I have a lot of space to see my background. The dock has one folder with 9 most used apps.
    2nd page - ALL folders except ipod and app store.
    3rd page - no folders, apps that don't fit into a category of 2nd page apps as well as new apps
  • lol.. great read..
  • Hmm. I had to close safari to see what kinds of weirdness I'm into.
    1. I change my home screen image often, because I'm never satisfied with the way the icons look on the background.
    2. I recently put everything in folders, but new downloads have been left to languish on the second page that I rarely look at.
    3. If I don't use an app at least once a week, I delete it... No matter how much space is on the phone.
    4. My lock screen is a picture of my son, always. Homescreen is usually my daughter or something my daughter 'does' (like her art etc). My husband has tried to psychoanalyse this behavior...thanks Carl Jung
    5. I never answer the phone. Ever. I use it more as an iPad and I'm a misanthropic geek who'd rather relinquish my Signed copy of The Hot Zone than talk on the phone.
  • I leave the 5th column totally empty on all pages because if I don't I feel it looks too cluttered. Always.
  • "Leanna: I could care less how my apps are organized because I just use Spotlight." Oh my...
  • Best way to go..
  • I once had all my apps on one page (most in folders save for the more critical ones), relying on launch-centre-pro and notifications to zip between apps. It helped that I didn't really have that many to begin with (after spring-cleaning away the unused ones). Just for the heck of it, I switched back the the old grid-of-icons layout, because I found I enjoyed flicking through screens of apps more (though I won't say it has been any more efficient).
  • Three home screens. No more, no less. Apps are in folders, nicely organized. Most of the time, my phone is on vibrate. You'll get a callback from me, but I rarely hear the phone.
  • Thrilled to find I am not alone! Settings icon MUST be in upper left corner of first screen, camera in lower right. Other than that, apps I use most on first screen, lots of folders on first and second screen, third screen all games, fourth just miscellaneous I haven't found a home for or don't use much but don't want to give up just yet. On a recent visit to Apple Store to buy earbuds, Blue Shirt chastised me when he saw I had 103 updates on phone. I hate keeping them current plus what if an update is flawed and everything gets screwed up. Why can't Apple make it so when you update on one device, it updates on all? I have an iPhone, iPad and Mini!
  • I'm in the open space on the home screen camp for sure. Other than that, I'm not that exciting except for a couple of things. 1) I always have to clear out badges, I hate looking at them. 2) My home screen wallpaper always has to be a dark-ish minimal style. Even though I know what the icon is, if I can't read the text under the icon clearly then it just bothers me.
  • I cannot stand having unread notifications (or the number counter in the top right hand corner of the app) on my iPhone or iPad, so what Georgia does with the apps would drive me nuts. I'm so crazy about it that I will even go on my wifey's iPhone and clean hers up, although she has tons of personal email which I have no desire to go through so I always leave that unread. This is one reason I wish apps like Facebook had better syncing across iOS devices. I hate having to do this stuff twice!
  • I once had all my apps organized by color. That habit stopped once folders came along. I love the folders.
  • I will ban ugly icons from my first home screen. Can't explain how happy I was several weeks ago when Weatherbug Elite finally updated their icon and I could put it back on screen one. I leave two spots open on my home screens!
  • Not so much a habit *on* the phone, but *around* the phone. When we sit down to eat, all phones go on the table so nobody is tempted to start screwing around with web/email/messaging. (I'm a worse offender than my kids.)
  • Nice article!
  • I love that I'm not the only weird one out there. I tend to organize my icons by color when they're on one of my screens and not in a folder. Also, my Settings app always has to be in the bottom right hand corner of the home screen. I rearrange apps to make that happen. Ugly icons go into a folder.
  • Suggestion: I keep settings icon in upper left corner (a must for me) and I never have to rearrange it!
  • Saw a poster one time that said "I'm not OCD, I'm CDO, because that way all the letters are in alphabetical order, as they should be" =)
  • Just recently I found myself refusing to update to Facebook 6.1.1 just so I could keep the beta icon that came with the 6.1 update... I like the look of it. :)
  • LOL! I pretty much fall into the same level of weirdness as Allyson Kazmucha!! From keeping one slot empty on the home screen to keeping ugly icons tucked away in folders. But most importantly is the album art... I just can't stand having songs without proper album art in my collection. I have an increasing number of songs in my library right now and only those are synced with my iPhone that I have already fixed with the proper information and album artwork. I even grabbed Rinse for iTunes to automatically fix the songs but alas! that didn't fix the songs properly and the album artwork that it set on most wasn't high resolution making 'em appear blotchy/pixelized on the iPhone's gorgeous display. So every weekend, I spend an hour or two updating as many additional songs as I can with the proper tags and high resolution album artwork. My wife keeps teasing me about that... ;) Apart from that; I always have to have my applications updated to the latest version. And can't bear having any apps installed on my phone that I know that I won't use.
  • I have a page of apps with circular icons and another page full of camera apps with icons that look like cameras.
  • My home tscreen has 3 folders and 4 icons on the bar-that's it, so you can see the background. A-G, I-O, and R-Y. Favorites. Screen 2 has Newsstand and the rest is folders. Screen 3 has new apps not organized yet. Everything is in alphabetical order, folders and apps. Favorites list is personal #'s on top half, and business #'s on the bottom. Ipad and Iphone match eachother pretty much, even done to the alert tones.
  • The way my iPhone is structured is having my homescreen fully covered with apps that I need the most and are organized based on function and where I'm used to them being. Then my second screen is full of other apps that did not make it but still organized similarly with a folder at the end titled "other" and containing everything else alphabetically. Finally, the third screen contains games also organized alphabetically then a last page for testing new apps.
  • Good article....I keep my most used apps on the home screen. I only have a couple games and some bank apps that are grouped on the second screen. My son gave me his iPhone to make a call today and I was totally lost.
  • Where can I download your wallpapers? I really like them... : )
  • I am an OCD Minimalist...if that is a real term. I have 2 screens and I will delete an app if my 6 folders are full just so I don't create a new screen. I have all my most used apps on main page and second tier ones on top of 2nd screen with all other random ones in folders. Settings has to be the very last icon for quick access. Also 2 similar color icons can not be next to each other. I never noticed these before I read this article.
  • I also refrain from updating my apps. This is a behavior that I carried over from Android. Sometimes, the first iteration of an app is perfect...then 'improvement updates' break it. I still have my reel to reel version of the podcast app :D
  • I don't have ANY apps on my first page. It is blank, and the other pages have only one roll of apps on each. I can't stand having more than one roll of apps on any pages, it looks so busy. Plus I like being able to see my background. So yeah.