The Best Ways to Declutter Your iPhone’s Home Screen(s)

The Best Ways to Declutter Your iPhone’s Home Screen(s)
Photo: DenPhotos, Shutterstock

I like my digital devices neat and organised. I keep a clean Mac desktop, and my iPad Home screen is immaculate. But iPhones are a bit different: We usually want your most-used apps to be front and centre, but over time, the apps inevitably start to pile up, leaving our phones a cluttered mess. If you feel like you spend half your screen time scrolling through a sea of apps, it’s time to clean up your Home Screen.

Hide Home Screen Pages

If your iPhone features endless Home Screen pages, tidying things up can feel like a chore. You could remove apps one by one, but that takes forever, and often leaves you more frustrated than when you started. Rather than waste time, energy, and sanity on fine tuning your many Home Screen pages, just hide them. It’s quick and easy, and the ability to do so might just be my favourite iOS feature to date.

To start, launch the Home Screen editor (or “jiggle mode” as some lovingly refer to it) by long-pressing on an empty portion of the display, or long-pressing on an app and choosing “Edit Home Screen.” Tap the page switcher (the oval with the dots) at the bottom of the display to reveal all of your existing Home Screen pages. To hide a specific page from your Home Screen, tap its checkmark. The only limit is you need to leave at least one Home Screen page active, so choose accordingly. When finished, tap “Done” to return to a cleaner, more organised Home Screen. You can repeat this process at any time to restore previously hidden pages.

You can also hide Home Screen pages during a Focus, so only certain pages appear when you’re at work, enjoying free time, or winding down at night.

Personally, I keep one Home Screen page with a combination of my favourite apps and widgets. If I need to use another app, I can swipe left once on my Home Screen to activate the App Library, which houses all my apps (more on that next). Or, I swipe down on the Home Screen to reach Spotlight, and search for whichever app I need.

Hide your apps in the App Library

Let’s say your Home Screen isn’t that cluttered, but it isn’t where you want it to be. Let’s also say you don’t want to delete any of your apps, but you wish some of them could be hidden away until you need them. You can place them in folders, but unnecessary folders are a form of clutter themselves.

If you have the patience, hiding your apps in the App Library is the move. The App Library is a collection of all the apps on your iPhone, hidden away on the last page of the Home Screen. Since iOS 14, the App Library has allowed us to keep apps off our Home Screens, without having to remove them from our iPhones entirely.

To confine an app to the App Library only, long-press it, then choose “Remove App.” Now, choose “Remove from Home Screen.” The app will disappear as if you deleted it, but if you search for it, or head to your App Library, it’ll be there waiting for you.

Keep new apps away from the Home Screen

Why put all the time and effort into curating your Home Screen only to have new apps throw off the whole look? By default, iOS adds new apps to the next available space on your Home Screen, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, you can choose to send new apps only to the App Library, preserving your Home Screen as it is.

To find this option, open Settings > Home Screen, then choose “App Library Only” under Newly Downloaded Apps.

Move apps with ease

If you’re in the business of rearranging the apps on your Home Screens, whether moving them to a new page or placing them in a folder, and you’re still dragging them one at a time, stop it, and pick up multiple apps at once.

Long-press one of the apps you want to move, then wait until you’re in “jiggle mode.” With your finger still holding the app, use another finger to tap other apps you’d like to move. Like magic, they’ll attach themselves to the first app you grabbed. Select as many as you’d like, then drag the whole lot wherever you’d like them to go.

The only downside of this feature is you can’t use it to move batches of apps to the App Library; it only works for moving them to another place on your Home Screen.

Batch-delete apps with Apple Configurator

Say you don’t want to move or hide apps on your iPhone, but want to delete them outright. Doing it one-by-one takes forever, but the best way to clear out a ton of apps you no longer want on your iPhone isn’t the most convenient, either: you’ll need a Mac, or a friend with a Mac, and Apple Configurator. It’s an app developed by Apple for setting up Apple devices with specific apps, settings, and data. Organisations, like schools and businesses, use it to configure user devices in accordance with their policies, but you can use it to batch-delete apps from your iPhone.

With the app installed on your Mac, plug your iPhone into the computer. Give the Mac permission to access your iPhone, then, when your phone appears in Apple Configurator, double-click it. Click the “Apps” menu from the sidebar to see a complete list of the apps on your iPhone. Select as many as you’d like, just as you would select multiple items in another Mac app. When everything is selected, hit the Delete key, then choose “Remove” from the pop up.

Delete apps directly on iPhone

If you don’t have access to a Mac, you’ll unfortunately need to delete apps one-by-one. But you don’t need to scroll aimlessly through Home Screen pages deleting apps at random — there are a few ways to go about it that are more efficient and effective.

The most organised way to delete apps on iPhone is via the App Library, which you can access by scrolling all the way to the right on your Home Screen. Tap “App Library” in the search field at the top of this page to see a list of all of your iOS apps in alphabetical order, and scroll through and delete any you don’t want. The process is the same as it is on the Home Screen: Long-press on an app icon, choose “Delete App,” then tap “Delete” on the pop-up.

Another hot tip for easily deleting apps: You can do so via the App Updates page in the App Store. (I first learned about this trick thanks to The Verge.) App Updates isn’t only for, well, app updates — it doubles as a convenient app-clearer. If you see an update for an app you didn’t even realise you had on your iPhone, it’s easy to delete it from your device then and there.

To start, visit the App Updates page by opening the App Store and tapping your profile in the top right. Swipe down on this screen to reload your available app updates, then scroll through the list. If you see an app you don’t want on your iPhone anymore, swipe left on it to reveal a “Delete” option. Tap it to remove the app.

You can also delete apps from a Spotlight search the same way: Search for the app, long-press it, then tap “Delete.” If you want to delete only the apps taking up the most space on your iPhone, head to Settings > General > iPhone Storage, tap on an offending app, choose “Delete App,” then tap “Delete App” again from the pop-up.

 

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