If you have never tried to organize your apps, you may find yourself frustrated, flipping from screen to screen looking for the app you want. As a librarian, I am always looking for ways to better organize my environment to minimize frustration and maximize efficiency.
Both iOS and Android have options to organize your home screen, and many of them are similar. In fact, last week we published an article on this same subject for iOS. However, Android comes with so many opportunities for customization, the screenshots you see here may not reflect what is on your phone.
Fun Fact: Beyond the differences between Android version numbers (currently 13), Pixel phones and Samsung phones have differences added by their manufacturers. Your mobile carrier may also have made changes to your version of Android if you bought your phone from them. Android users also have the option to use “launcher” apps, which provide many more customization options for the look and operation of your device.
Your Home Screen vs. Your App Drawer
Icons for your apps live in two different places. Whenever you install an app, it is always installed in your app drawer. Depending on your settings, it may or may not also create an icon on your home screen automatically. The home screen is the default screen you see when you unlock your phone. The app drawer can be accessed either by swiping up from the bottom of your phone screen or by tapping the app drawer icon (if available):
The app drawer arranges apps alphabetically, with a search bar at the top. There isn’t much room for customization here without a third-party launcher app, so the rest of this article will focus on organizing the home screen.
The home screen is what you see when you tap the home button/icon or swipe up from the bottom of the screen, depending on whether you have gestures set up. The home screen can actually be several “pages.” Swiping to the left or right from the home page will show you how many pages your home screen is.
Create a New Home Screen Page
To create a new home screen page, press and hold a blank space (between icons/widgets) until the menu overlay pops up. Lift your finger and swipe to the left or right until you see the +. Click on it to add a page.
Adding and Removing Icons from the Home Screen
To add an icon to the home screen:
- Open the app drawer
- Press and hold on the app to add to home
- When the home screen appears, slide your finger to the desired spot and lift your finger off the screen to drop the icon
- If you receive a message that there is no more room on the home screen, try again, and drag the icon to the edge of the full page to create a new, blank page.
To see the same app icons at the bottom of every page, which is handy for apps you use often, you can drag icons to the “dock” (bottom row on the page).
To remove an icon from the home screen:
- Press and hold an icon to reveal a menu
- Lift your finger without sliding it on the screen to reveal a menu
- Tap remove
Note: Deleting the icon from the home screen does not delete the app from your phone.
Quick Menus for Apps
Some app icons are designed to display a context menu when long-pressed (press and hold). These menus contain shortcuts to popular app options. Here is an example of the context menu that pops up when I long-press the Fitbit icon on my phone:
Tapping any of these brings me directly to the entry screen, rather than having to open the app and navigate to the logging screen.
Moving Icons Between Home Screen Pages
- Press and hold an icon to select it
- Drag it to the edge of the screen until it flips to the next page.
- Slide your finger to the desired spot and lift your finger off the screen to drop the icon
- If the screen does not have another page to put the icon on, you may need to follow the instructions above for adding a page.
Creating Folders to Group App Icons
To group icons, long-press an icon and drag it over the top of another icon and let go. The icon will now look like a split of both icons. Tap that to open the folder. Tap on “edit name” to add a name, if desired. Tap the three-button icon to sort or select additional apps.
To separate the icons again, open the folder and tap and hold one. Drag it out of the folder and lift your finger to let it drop on the home screen in a blank spot. You may need to slide between screens or create a new page to find an open spot.
Adding Widgets to Your Home Screen
- Press and hold a blank space (between icons/widgets) until the menu overlay pops up.
- Scroll through the resulting page to see what widgets are available
- To add one, press and hold until the home screen appears
- Slide your finger to find the desired spot to drop the widget. Make sure there is enough room, as some widgets have minimum size requirements.
- To resize a widget, press and hold it until a menu pops up. Select resize, then drag the dots on any side of the widget to make it larger or smaller.
Using folders and widgets to organize icons on your home screen can help you maximize productivity while minimizing frustration trying to find your apps. Do you use folders and widgets on your phone? Let us know in the comments.