As Apple persuades iPhone buyers to purchase more and more applications, the home screen can become very cluttered. With only 16 icons available on each screen, users may find that applications take up multiple screens, increasing the time it takes to find and launch them. There is a very simple solution to this on the iPhone 4, which enables users to create folders for their applications.
Folders can store up to twelve applications. The folder is displayed on the screen as an icon, just like the application, but has twelve smaller images of the applications contained within it. Note that only nine of these images can be seen before the folder is opened. On this basis, whereas each screen would previously have only been able to hold 16 icons, now it is able to hold 192 icons (16 times 12).
The process to set up folders is very easy on the iPhone.
- Identify an app that could be grouped with another one. Press and hold it until it starts to shake from side to side (all the other icons will do this too).
- Drag the first icon over a second icon that is to be placed in the same folder. This will automatically create a new folder.
- The folder will be given a name, based on the category of the apps as identified in the App Store. Users can change this to any name.
- The process of dragging and dropping can then be repeated until all applications are sorted into folders. If a user is trying to drag an application from one screen to another, it is easier if the icon is simply dragged onto the screen, released and then dragged into the folder. It is quite tricky to do the whole thing in one move.
- Folders can be renamed at any time. Users should simply press and hold the folder until it shakes and then the name will be editable.
- To move an app from one folder to another, it must first be dragged out and placed on the home page. Then it can be dragged into the new folder. Users cannot drag from one folder straight to another.
- Save all changes by pressing the Home button at the bottom of the handset. The icons and folders will all stop shaking and no further changes can be made until one is pressed and held.
There is currently a limit of 180 folders on a handset, but as that equates to more than two thousand apps, this is probably sufficient for most users.
This process can also be replicated in iTunes. Users should connect the iPhone to their PC and then select the Apps tab within the iPhone device. It is far easier to organize lots of applications through iTunes, as multiple screens are displayed. Folders can be re-named simply by double-clicking. The handset will need to be re-synchronized to the iTunes library for the changes to take effect.
Once a folder structure is in place, users should find it much easier to navigate the iPhone home screen. Regular house keeping is a good idea and there are even fun ways to customize this further by using, for example, colorful Japanese Emoji icons as the folder names.