Apple owns the trademark to “there’s an app for that” for good reason: there seems to be an app for almost everything. Unfortunately, there isn’t an app for organizing all of the apps you download from the App Store, and if you love to take advantage of every download-for-free promotion that comes your way, you will quickly find the need to organize your app in a way better than just letting each individual app go to the back of the line.
Luckily, there are a number of great ways to keep your favorite apps at your fingertips, including folders, using the dock and simply sorting apps alphabetically.
Organize Your iPad With Folders
When the iPad was originally introduced to the world, it didn’t include a way to create folders. But this quickly changed as the number of apps in the App Store grew. If you’ve never created a folder on the iPad, don’t worry. It is as simple as moving an app.
In fact, it is moving an app. But instead of dropping the app on an open area on the iPad’s home screen, you drop it onto another app. When you are dragging an app across the screen and hover over another app, an outline will appear over that app. If you continue hovering, you will zoom into a folder view. You can create the folder simply by dropping it within the folder area after the iPad zooms into the folder.
You can also name the folder at this time.
Simply tap on the name at the top and type whatever you want for the folder name. The iPad defaults to a name derived by the apps in the folder, so if you created a folder of two games, it will read “Games”.
Most of us can put all of our apps on a single screen simply by creating a few folders. I like to create a folder called “Default” for all of the default apps like Tips and Reminders that I don’t use on the iPad.
This gets them out of the way. I also create a folder for Productivity apps, a folder for Entertainment such as streaming video or music, a folder for Games, etc. With only a half dozen folders, it is easy to have a category for almost everything.
Place Your Most-Used Apps on the Dock
The apps on the dock at the bottom of the screen stay the same no matter which page of apps you are currently on, so this area makes the perfect place for your most used apps. Many of us never change out what apps are on the dock, and while the iPad defaults to only four apps on the dock, you can actually place up to six apps on the dock.
You place on an app on the dock the same way you would move it anywhere. When you are moving the app, simply move your finger to the dock and then let it hover until the other apps on the dock move out of the way for it. Remember, there must only be five or fewer apps on the dock at that time. You can’t add a seventh app to the dock.
If your dock is already full, or if you decide you don’t really need one of the default apps on the dock, you can move apps off the dock just as you would move them from anywhere.
When you move the app off the dock, the other apps on the dock will rearrange themselves.
Place Folders on the Dock
One of the coolest ways to organize your iPad is to flip the script. While the dock is intended for your most used apps and the home screen is intended for your folders and the rest of your apps, you can actually use the home screen for the most popular apps and the dock for everything else by filling the dock up with a folder.
Yes, you can place a folder on the dock. It’s a great way to access a whole slew of apps from any home screen. And because you can place up to six apps on the dock, you can place six folders on it.
That’s probably enough to hold every app you have on your iPad.
So instead of using the dock for apps you want to get to easily, you can leave them on the first page of your home screen and put all of your other apps in folders on the dock. It almost makes the iPad seem like a desktop operating system’s interface, which doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.
One downside of this method is that you cannot drop an app into a folder when the folder is on the dock. This means you’ll need to move the app to the home screen, drop the app in it, and then move it back to the dock. Hopefully, Apple will fix this annoyance in a future release.
Sort Your Apps Alphabetically
There is no way to keep your apps permanently organized alphabetically, but you can sort them without moving each individual app using a workaround.
First, launch the Settings app. In settings, go to General on the left-side menu and choose “Reset” at the bottom of the General settings. Tap “Reset Home Screen Layout” and confirm your choice on the dialog box that appears by tapping “Reset”. This will sort all of the apps you have downloaded in alphabetical order. Unfortunately, the default apps are not sorted with the downloaded app.
Skip Organizing the iPad and Use Spotlight Search or Siri
I admit I gave up organizing my iPad. I download dozens of new apps each week either to review them for an article or simply to review them as a way of keeping up with the iPad in general. And as you can imagine, I also delete apps on a regular basis. All of this leads to a little bit of chaos on my home screen.
But that’s OK because I have no problems launching any app at any time using Spotlight Search. This is a great way to keep from hunting for the app and is about as fast a way to launch an app as you can find. Another easy way to launch an app is to use Siri by saying “Launch Notes” or “Launch Mail”.
The only downfall is that you need to remember the name of the app you are launching. Which can sometimes be harder than it sounds, but is usually quite easy.