8 tips to organize your iPhone / iPad apps and folders

How many apps you have downloaded to your iOS devices ? And is it easy to find them from within the devices – then run your favorite game or utility apps, move them or delete them ? Yes I know many of you have your favorite apps in the home screen and you can organize the apps into folders as well … but more questions pop up – how to name the folders ? How to arrange the folders ? And is it easy to find the folders you created last week or month in your iPhone / iPad ?

iPhone and iPad are smart devices but you need to be very smart as well one way or the other, to make that device works for you. Other than downloading good apps, I firmly believe you also need a smart(er) way to organize your apps and folders – and in turn, better user experience.

And here are 8 tips and tricks on that:

  1. First, only download the apps your need. A simple but important trick, for example, if you don’t play games at all then why download the Angry Birds ?
  2. Second, organize all standard Apple apps (Clock, Calendar, Contact, Map etc.) in the home screen of the device. With this approach, when you know you need to run those standard Apple apps, just go to the home screen to find it. Free up your mind, you don’t need to memorize where are those apps – like, where is the Map apps ? However, if there are really some Apple standard apps you don’t need in the home screen – save those into a separate folder, say “Apple apps”.
  3. Always leave a row in the home screen for your apps and folders though, in other words, only keep at most 12 standard Apple apps in the home screen (in the case of iPhone). That will leave you 4 “slots” to place your own apps or folders. For iPad, keep 15 standard Apple apps in the home screen and leave 5 “slots” for the apps folders.
  4. In the case of iPad, you can also move one of your favorite apps to the apps docking bar in the bottom of the screen. In my case, I added Zite to it.
  5. In the home screen, keep the most used apps on the left most column (if you are a right-handed person), or the right most column. That will help you to access your favorite apps with only one hand and your thumb.
  6. Probably the most important tips – sort your folders position by their names. For example, place the folder sequence like “Finance”, then “Games”, then “Health” etc. That will help you easy to find one folder just by a glance to the screen. In other words, if you want to find the folder “Health”, the first glance of the screen you found “Finance” and you will certainly know the “Health” folder is somewhere on the right or below the folder “Finance”. No more folder hunting.
  7. Keep the folders names the same between iPhone and iPad. So you can easily find the same apps in the same folder.
  8. Lastly, review the apps and folders once every few months – remove the apps that no longer needed; rename the folders or create new ones if new needs arose; reorganize the folder position again.

I hope all these tips and tricks make sense to you, following you can find few screen shots of my iPhone and iPad set up.

Comparison of iPad news reading apps

I wrote about how to make the news comes to you, so the natural next step is find a good tool to read / consume the news. While iPhone is my everyday mobile device, but to read news, iPad is really better. So I installed 4 iPad apps – Flipboard, Zite, MobileRSS and Twitter to find my ideal tool to read news; and here is the comparison – how I read an HBR news with the four applications.

Note that it is not an “evaluation report” as I believe each of us have different evaluation criteria and therefore this post will focus how I read the same news with different programs. Lastly, iPad is still not a good tool to read books, Kindle is much better, but it is another story.


Rated the best iPad application in 2010 and I think most of iPad users have this installed. To connect to the news, just select one of the predefined news sources or you can connect the apps to your Twitter account. Following is the screen shot of the news The Only Thing that Really Matters from HBR.

As you can see the apps strip off all the ads, headers and other elements but only show you the news . Of course you can see the original news if you “click” the source link but in essence, the presentation is pretty plain …


This apps’ tagline is “Personalized Magazine” and indeed you can feed in many news sources to it and also connect your Twitter feeds to it. One thing different from Flipboard is it does not support your Facebook friends’ feeds (yet). Following is the same news from HBR. As you can see the presentation format is pretty good. You can also “inform” the tool that you like this type of news or the source of the news (i.e. HBR in that case), then the program is smart enought to feed more news similar to that (in that case, business news) or from the same source.


If your news sources are mainly website RSS but not Twitter and Facebook, then MobileRSS is also a good choice. One thing I don’t like much is the all black default color scheme (you can change it to other themes) and you will see some sponsor ads. See below …


The last news apps is in fact the Twitter for iPad, and obviously the main news sources are your followers. Since many websites provide both RSS and Tweets, you therefore can use this to view many news. Unlike the above tools, however, it renders the HBR news like what a browser will do … in other words, you will also see the banner ads in the page; and you need to scroll more to see the whole news article.


All four tools are great for their own purposes, however, none of them are perfect to my purpose yet. If I have to choose, I think I will use Zite more …