Five Tips for Easier Rearranging of iOS Apps

Originally published at: Five Tips for Easier Rearranging of iOS Apps - TidBITS

iOS 14’s App Library might make it easier to find apps, but if you want to clean up your existing Home screens and folders, these tips will make it easier regardless of what version of iOS or iPadOS you may be running.


Since the loss of the organizational tools in iTunes,

There, I’m afraid, is your problem; I keep one of my Macs on 10.13 for exactly this reason. (It’s also the last MacOS version that allows good ad-blocking in Safari, and the second-to-last that supports the last good version of M$ Word, or at least the last version I was willing to pay for.) I would have hoped that something like iMazing could manage the lost functionality, but so far haven’t found anything.

Moving apps on my iPad Air2 is a frustrating experience. Having entered “jiggle” mode (nobody at Apple remembers about “jiggle” TV shows) I drag an icon either within the same screen or to another a few screens over. On the way to the planned destination, the very slightest touch of any app or folder icon immediately opens it up and puts my app within it.
No pause, no delay. I have to let go of my touch and have the app go into it’s undesired new home, then drag it out, and hope I don’t go near another icon again (but I usually do). It takes a few tries just to get it where I wanted it to go. When I’m near the MacBook Pro, iMazing is my go-to for that and other app management.

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For me the easiest way to move an app or two from one screen to another on an iPad is to use the dock as a temporary place to hold the icons. Drag the icon to the dock, swipe to the screen where you want the icon to be, and then drag the icon onto that screen. Because the iPad dock can hold a lot of icons, this is easier than on the iPhone, which is limited to four icons.

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Good suggestion. I’ll try that. Adding an item to, or creating a folder, there is supposed to be a slight delay rather than being instantaneous. And it doesn’t even take a full “drop” onto the icon, just barely grazing a corner pops open the “folder.”

Good news! Latest version of configurator 2 (2.13.1) now works again.
macOS 10.15.6 Catalina
tested on
iPhone X iOS 14.0
and iPad Pro iPadOS 14.0
MUCH better. Best part is you can manipulate pages
to add a page, you have to move at least 2 apps to the last blank page. Then you can drag where you want. Only one app will merge when you move the page.
I couldn’t figure out how to pull apps out of a folder. I just did it on the device side.
Interaction is pretty easy.
Reviewing article I see how to remove app from folder. I will try.

Several of the tips in the article help you work around these problems. :slight_smile:

Sadly, that was the version I was using that didn’t work in my testing.

Sorry. Sigh.
I agree older version was broken. It wouldn’t write new layout back to device.

All I can suggest is all 3 devices were at latest public release (not beta). 10.15.6 and iOS 14.0
I did have to do the inline configurator update, even after app store update. Seems shoddy to me.

What update is this? I didn’t see any additional updates after launching Apple Configurator 2.

Same update and works the same way when you plug an iDevice in, but you only have to do it once after each new piece of hardware is introduced. So if you already did it to update iOS/iPadOS then you won’t need to do it again for Configuator 2 or vice versa.

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I tried Apple Configurator 2 on the latest Big Sur beta (running from an external SSD). It works fine with some caveats. It UNHIDES all of your Home Screens (if you have any hidden). If you’ve downloaded new apps and only saved them in the App Library then they are added to the first available spot on the next Home Screen. More testing is required but at least the Apply Button now saves the changes.

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I also just discovered it removed the widgets from my Home Screen.

Regarding the section on “Moving a Stack of Apps All at Once,” I’m still on iOS 13, and when dropping a stack it unloads last-in/first-out order, not first-in/first-out order as described. (I believe this was also true for iOS 12.)

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Has anyone ever developed an app that would put apps in alphabetical order? Once in alpha order you could just pull out your most frequently used apps, put them on the home screen, and then easily find the remainder in alpha order.

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Swiping to the last screen on the right, and clicking the search box shows a alphabetical list of apps. Ios14.

Settings / General / Reset / Reset Home Screen layout I believe does this (at least for third party apps.) It removes non-default folders and then lays out the third party apps in alphabetical order in as many home screens as it takes. (I could be wrong; I’d test it myself, but don’t feel like messing up my home screen layouts.)

Thank you for the useful tip. Missed the ability to use a mac to easily arrange apps on iPhone since the departure of iTunes.
You say " whenever I tried to save my changes by clicking the Apply button, I got this error dialog…". I have installed the Configurator on my MBP and it works smoothly.

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Does Apple cover these tips in their documentation anywhere? Excuse the rant, but all these functionalities exist because someone programmed them in, so they should be documented somewhere that the average user could find? I find as the OS and apps become more complex, they become less and less intuitive to use. So many functionalities these days are hidden behind non-obvious swipes, holds, tap, double-tap, triple-tap, single/multi-finger sequences of secret-handshakes gestures (I guess I’m speaking of touch screen interfaces in general) that they are un-discoverable. And to make matters worse, different apps implement the same gestures differently. I so miss the days of a simpler iOS, and unfortunately those days are long gone.

There is a Tips iOS app.

iMazing isn’t as good as the old iTunes, but it does allow some app management.