Apple’s iOS software has a reputation for not being as customizable as Google’s Android, and while that’s true to some degree, there’s still a lot you can do to make the home screen more useful, less cluttered and giving it a style is all yours. I use iOS every day and these are the five things I did to make my iPhone unique and user-friendly at the same time.
Use separate wallpapers
You don’t have to use the same wallpaper for the lock screen as the home screen, and vice versa. Although it may seem like a small thing, it makes a big difference to readability. I like this because it lets me highlight an image on the lock screen, without it visually interfering with the many colorful app icons that appear on the home screen.
My recommendation is to use a black or nearly black background for the home screen. Go to Settingsso Wallpaperand select Choose a new wallpaper. I like to use one of the live wallpapers because it adds life to the home screen but never distracts. To select Dynamic then your image of choice. Select the Adjust button at the bottom of the screen, then Set home screen. Follow the same basic steps to set your lock screen wallpaper – just choose a different image and select Set lock screen Instead.
If app icons have ever been lost due to merging with your wallpaper color, this is an easy way to prevent it from happening again. Plus, there’s something classic and minimalist appealing about a basic background behind all your apps.
Do a lot of folders
Folders are a fantastic way to declutter your home screen and, in conjunction with the following tip, make your iPhone less busy, by spreading iOS app icons across multiple home screens by default. If this is your first time seriously using folders, be prepared for it to take a little time to get everything organized.
Creating a folder is simple: you select and drag one app icon on top of another. When the folder appears automatically, select it and change the name. Grouping apps like this together makes it easier to find what you want. I placed folders for my most-used apps on the main home screen and less-used ones on a second home screen.
It can be tempting to put all your apps in folders, but resist that and keep a small selection of your most used apps separate. I have five on the home screen outside of folders because I use them multiple times a day, or in the case of settings because I want to find it quickly.
Use the App Library
What if you have a lot of apps? This is where you need to be strict with yourself and use the App Library feature of iOS. I limit my home screens to two and fill the second with apps that I don’t use often but would still like to have close at hand. The remaining apps that I don’t want to remove find their way into the App Library.
Minimizing the number of home screens makes iOS less cluttered and easier to manage, and using the App Library makes finding apps you don’t use often much faster. Plus, none of this requires effort to set up. Here’s an example of what to do: During the process of rearranging your home screens, find an app that you don’t want to delete but rarely use. Press and hold the icon until it wobbles, then select Delete app.
At this point, be sure to choose the Remove from home screen option. This removes it from the home screen and places it in the app library. The App Library can be found by swiping all the way to the right of your home screens, and is an auto-generated list of all your apps that’s easily found using the bar at the top of the screen.
By using Folders and the App Library, all your apps are still installed on your phone, but only the ones you use regularly are at your fingertips and are cataloged and easy to find in folders. All other apps are placed in the app library and finding them takes a while using the search function.
Edit stock apps in the Dock
The iOS Dock is the bar at the bottom of all your home screens, and by default it contains the Phone, Messages, Safari, and Music app. That’s fine if you regularly use these apps, but if you don’t, you’re wasting valuable screen space and can put it to much better use.
Changing them is like moving apps around on the home screen: just hold an app’s icon in the Dock until it wiggles and drag it to a new location. Select your new favorite app in the same way and drag it to the Dock. Now the apps you use most often will always be instantly available, no matter what home screen you’re viewing.
For example, I use Chrome instead of Safari and always prefer having access to the Camera app rather than the Music app. Maybe you use WhatsApp or Messenger instead of the iOS Messages app, so consider swapping those too.
Add widgets, but not too much
Widgets can be useful, but they also take up a lot of space on your home screen, so it’s essential to use them sparingly. Adding widgets can be done in two ways. Touch and hold an empty space on the home screen, then select the “+” icon that appears at the top left of the screen when app icons start shaking, or swipe left to view the Today view, go to the bottom of the screen and select Edit, then select the “+” icon as before.
Choose only widgets that add value; don’t just randomly add a stack of widgets containing multiple widgets in the hope that you’ll use them. I added a calendar and world time widget to my home screen because I use them both daily, and having instant access is useful. I also have a large Weather widget on the second home screen. If you find you need more widgets but don’t want to sacrifice space for apps, consider adding a new dedicated widget home screen.
Be sure to experiment
That’s it for my five basic tips on how to customize the iOS home screen to make it more useful and less cluttered. It’s all based on how I’ve set up my iOS home screens, but what works for me might not be exactly right for you, so follow the general advice here and come up with a version that works best for you. The thing to remember is to have fun and experiment. You can find more iOS 13 tips and tricks here, if you want to dig even deeper. Or, if you’re having a problem with iOS 13, here we have solutions to common iOS 13 problems.