I’ve just finished reading Tonya’s TidBITS article with tips on how to find iOS apps on an iPhone or iPod touch, and it inspired me to write up my own strategy.
Voila, my home screen. Or to put it more accurately, my display of secondmost important apps (with a few exceptions). The most important apps are in the Dock at the bottom, where I’ve put folders to make up for the fact that the Dock only has four spaces.
How to make a folder in the Dock: you can’t. But you can make a folder on any homescreen and drag it to the Dock.
Right now I have two folders there: Desk and Social. Desk roughly corresponds to “apps that do stuff I’d do on my Mac”: Mail, Safari, time logging, etc. Social is Twitter, Facebook, and a half-dozen others, and gets marquee treatment on the iPod because it’s my primary way of checking into such things. Music and Settings get their own places because I’m in and out of there all the time—and Apple, please please please give us a brightness slider shortcut in iOS 6? Kthx.
Above the fold: the apps I want quickest access to, and/or the apps where I want to see their badge icons at all times—and OmniFocus, I’m looking at you, kid. Apps get moved on and off the homescreen regularly based on how often I’m using them. For example, I’m giving Evernote another kick in the tires, so it’ll probably replace Voice Memos on the homescreen for a while.
You may have noted from the number of dots that I have quite a few pages in my Springboard. So let’s see what those look like….
Hmmm. Those aren’t organized at all! It’s almost as if Jeff has…
Yup. Alphabetical order. iOS makes this a pain in the butt; on my Android, there’s a one-click “alphabetical ordering” feature. But if it’s not on the homescreen, I don’t file it, folder it, or move it. Alphabetical by name so it’s easy to find. Every few months I take off the apps I’ve stopped using.
Let’s look at the last screen.We come to the end of the alphabetized list (and thank you, Zynga, for making that so easy to notice). Then there’s a blank placeholder app…
A what? How the hell did you do that?
…one sec, I’ll come back to that. After that are all of the apps I’m currently “testing”. I.e., these were downloaded for an article I’m writing, or are on my “check this out someday” list. If I decide to keep it, I alphabetize it. If it might be really useful, I’ll give it a shot on my homescreen.
As for the “blank” app, it’s a Safari bookmark. Open Safari, go to the URL about:blank (yes, Virginia, that is a URL), then tap the bookmark icon and save it to your homescreen. Give it a name of “.” or something else small and unobtrusive. Voila, blank app. Accidentally tap it, and you’ll just get a blank webpage, useful as a flashlight.
Blank apps are also very useful for an iOS annoyance. Move or delete an app on a full screen, and you’ll get 15 apps and a blank space like the puzzle on System 7. Worse: install a new app, and it might be randomly slotted here instead of on the last screen. Fill in the gap with another blank icon, and you’re good to go.
I sometimes have two homescreens (i.e.: 16 spaces on the primary homescreen, then swipe left for the next 16 apps and folders) before I go to the alphabetical list, but the folders layout I’m using now seems to work better.