iOS 14’s App Library: The FAQ

On my iPhone I have two home screen pages with app icons, some in folders, basically sorted alphabetically (plus, of course, the four dock icons). Those are the apps that I use most frequently. The rest are spread on the rest of my home pages in whatever order I installed them (or they installed themselves after rebuilding my phone from scratch probably.) Those apps I hardly use and I launch them either from notifications or from search.

I think the new app library sounds great. (An alphabetical list of all icons, like the Android app drawer, would also have been fine.)

It was clunky but I miss the ability of iTunes to arrange icons on iOS screens. Since that function was dropped by Apple my iPhone screens have become very confused and messy so this new feature of iOS 14 should be helpful.

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I would imagine. The only way I can still manage to organize things my way is to remove apps I do not plan to keep using (even if rarely) or apps I know I can always download again should I ever need them again (apps I don’t worry about losing settings/data). I have in total 80 apps on my iPhone, about half I use at least bi-weekly. I have no idea how I’d deal with 500. Most probably, by capitulation. :wink:

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I do this too, but it can come back to bite you if the app’s author goes out of business or loses his Apple ID for some other reason - Apple will yank all his apps from the store when the ID expires, making it impossible to re-download.

I encountered this on my Mac when I found I couldn’t re-download an app I use a lot (Cadence BPM Tapper), because the company folded at some point in the past. It doesn’t even appear in my purchased app list anymore. Fortunately, I was able to recover it from a backup.

Back in the old days when iTunes could backup/install apps, you could use it as your master copy and re-install from your hard drive in an emergency. I don’t know if you can do it today. iTunes doesn’t backup/install app packages and (I think) iMazing only backups/restores data, leaving the app itself to the App Store for installation.

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My only complaint is that if I want to delete an app, you can’t do that via search, and search won’t tell you where the app is located.

If you keep typing until the app you’re looking for is the only search result, it will tell you where it resides (if it’s in a folder). If it’s not in a folder, then I can’t help you. :blush:

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I have 487 apps right now, and they all exist on one of two home screens (I’ve set it up such that my first home screen is empty, so that I can see my wallpaper unobstructed*). On that second home screen, I have 16 apps, and eight folders (plus the four apps in the Dock). Thus, 467 of my apps are distributed throughout those eight folders. My largest folder has 14 ‘pages’, and contains 120 apps. I’m not sure if there’s a limit on the number of pages you can have in a folder or not…

Managing all this became much easier when they added the feature enabling you to move multiple folders/icons at once. In case you don’t know, you do that by putting your home screens into “wiggle mode”, then start dragging a folder or icon with one finger, and then add other items by tapping on them with another finger or your other hand. It can take a little getting used to, but I love that feature…

I’ve not played with the iOS beta at all, so I’ll be curious to see how the App Library affects my layout.

*An additional cool aspect to having an empty first home screen is that your apps all magically ‘disappear’ when you swipe up on any other home screen. :nerd_face:

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Oh, that’s a nice little tip—I so seldom type enough that I didn’t realize iOS would display the folder name once it was the only choice. Still pretty limited, but better than nothing!

Bonus points for another good tip! If I knew this, I’d forgotten.

And I’ll see your tip and raise you one.

Once you’re in jiggle mode (which Apple prefers to wiggle mode, for some reason) instead of dragging an icon to a home screen, instead start dragging the icon just a little and then pause. You can tap other icons to add them to the dragged stack, as per @jiclark’s tip. But here’s the thing I just discovered.

With another finger (probably on your other hand), swipe left and right to move between home screens underneath the stack of icons you’re holding. It’s very cool.

I HATE dragging icons to a home screen that’s multiple jumps to the right or left, in part because I always end up pausing on another icon, which wants to create or enter a folder. (You get out of that by dragging up to the top of the screen, above the folder name.)

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Imazing does have an option to save apps to your Mac, and reinstall them to your device. I haven’t tried it, though.

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Great Piece Josh.

The one thing I’ve found to be an issue at least on the beta is dealing with the widgets. Adding a widget and dragging and moving it results in a messed up set of screens if you don’t add a screenful of widgets, ie a screen with just widgets on it. If you add a screenful, it results in your pre-existing home screens simply shuffling down the order while remaining laid out as you have them. It can get messy if you add just a few widgets, the remaining apps all get out of place, and setting it back is not always straightforward. I’m sure they’ll iron it out.

I love the suggested apps widget, I use them on my Home Screen with a clock and a recent photos widget. That’s become my main go to screen.

I mainly find apps using Search but I’ve a few screens organised by activity, Travel, or Landscape Photography with relevant apps all from different categories, so I value keeping that organisation in place.

Using an iPhone nowadays is hard work in trying to remember all the swipes, pokes and prods to do something straightforward. Not only is a book of instructions needed but that book needs to be carried with the iPhone - always. Just as soon as you get the hang of something, Apple decides to do an ‘improvement’.

Once I was a purveyor of any new iPhone/iPad app, but now I cant be bothered - would just add more unnecessary complications.

My hope is that Apple never loses control of its App Store otherwise things will get much more messy.

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I could not agree more! And the behavior seems to have gotten more touchy with recent iOS updates/upgrades. I don’t think there’s anything that makes me scream at my phone more (except maybe the Mail app). :roll_eyes:

I’d have to agree with that. I usually have to try two or three times until I can successfully move an app without inadvertently creating a folder.

I have a different problem for which I haven’t found a solution. . .

A few days ago I wanted to find an app that I purchased 8 years ago. In the good 'ol days before iTunes 13, I could have opened iTunes and seen all of my purchased apps listed in alphabetical order. Easy Peasy and I liked having the apps stored locally too.

But that was then and this is now: I had to go to the App Store and scroll through a long list of apps before I located the one that I was looking for. Fortunately, it was still available. . .

If there is an easier way to do this, I would appreciate hearing about it. . . I searched for an alternative method and I admit that I could have been unsuccessful and Apple already has an answer for me.

Very useful article Josh. Thanks. Looking forward to using the app library. Makes so much sense.

One question: can you drag multiple instances of an app to different places on the Home screen? Just as you can with Mac aliases

No, sorry. You can’t have multiple copies appearing on the Home screen(s).

An app can exist:

  • Only in the App Library
  • In both the App Library and one location on a Home screen.

Shame! Thanks Adam

Hi - I have just started exploring the App Library. One initial observation is that sometimes an app is put in a specific category but it makes better sense for me for it to be in another category - for instance, one app is sitting in Health & Fitness but I’d rather have it in Shopping & Food. Can we move apps from one category to another? A related question is that I’d like to split one of the categories (for instance Information & Reading) - is that possible? Thanks!

No, sorry, the App Library categories are pre-set, and you can’t move things between them (or change their contents other than by deleting apps). I believe they pick up on App Store categories that the developers have chosen, though I haven’t verified that for sure.

I am trying to use App Library. I like it, but for me the screen is in the wrong place. It should come before the Home Screen. For me it should be search, App Library, first page. I would like to be able move the page order.

I know have search, page of widgets, old Home Screen, App Library.

I also would like to be able to move the App Library screen. I suspect that iOS 15 will eliminate Today View entirely and maybe move App Library there because Today View is completely pointless when you can put widgets on any Home screen.

As far as moving and reorganizing apps in App Library, I think this would defeat the purpose, which is effortless and automatic app organization. If you want to organize apps a certain way, you can add them to the Home screen and sort them however you like.