Arrange Application icons on the iPhone or iPod touch


Arrange Application icons on the iPhone or iPod touch
Mac Tip #376, 18 March 2009

Do you have several screens of Applications on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch? Is it hard to find the ones you need? Customise how they display.

First screen of Applications; Jiggling icons; Alert when deleting an Application.

First screen of Applications; Jiggling icons; Alert when deleting an Application.

The iPhone, iPad and iPod touch have a lot in common: they all come with pre-installed Applications, and you can add more Applications from the iTunes Store.

When you add an Application it may appear in the last position on the Applications screen, starting a new page as the previous page fills up. Before long you find yourself flipping through several pages of Applications to find the one you want.

To move between Pages of Applications tap just to the left or right of the small row of dots below the Application icons, or swipe right or left. There is one dot per Page.

iPhone page indicator dots. I'm on page 2 of 4.

iPhone page indicator dots. I'm on page 2 of 4.

Here’s how to move the icons to where you want them. In these instructions I’ll just write iPhone, but everything is just the same on the iPad and iPod touch. These instructions were written for an iPhone running version 2.2.1 of the Operating System. Older or newer versions may differ.

To move iPhone Application icons:

  1. Switch on your iPhone and unlock it. The Applications screen appears, displaying one of the pages of Applications.
  2. To return to the first Applications page press the Home button once.
  3. To enable moving Applications around press and hold on any Application. After a moment the icons begin to jiggle, and some display an X in the top left corner. The icons without an X are built-in and cannot be removed.
  4. To delete an Application tap the X. An alert appears asking for confirmation. To abandon the change click Cancel. To confirm the deletion click Delete.
  5. To move an Application drag its icon to a new position. The other icons move to make way for it. Drag the icon to the right to move it to a new page, or to the left to move it back a page.
  6. When you’ve finished moving icons press the Home button once. The icons stop jiggling and the changes are saved.

These older Tips may also interest you:

  1. Meet the iPod touch
  2. Download and install apps from the App Store

Do you have any other tips for arranging Application icons on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch? Share them in the Comments.

Update: to make a folder of apps just drag one jiggling icon on top of another. They join together and a ‘drawer’ slides open beneath them with a default name. Change the name if you like, then press the Home button to save the changes.

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101 Comments

  1. Caron C. said:

    Hi, all — I can’t seem to phrase this question well enough in Google to get the “right” answer, so here goes.

    I want to know if I can move the iPad/iPhone icons and place them WHEREVER I’d like….sort of like you can do with a PC when you choose the option to NOT lock the icons. I’m trying to make it so I can view the photo I have for wallpaper and place the icons AROUND the center photo….

    TIA!!

    Carpn C.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Caron,

      if I understand you correctly, you want to place the icons exactly on screen, so you might have 2 together up here and one alone over there, and so on. If so, then No, you can’t do that.

      The iOS has an underlying grid that only lets you move the sequence around, or place some icons on a second or subsequent screen.

      Your idea sounds good – I have a photo where the icons are in annoying spots. I’d like to be able to nudge those icons aside.

      Thanks for reading.

      Cheers,

      Miraz

  2. Leonora said:

    I am having a problem with my iPhone since I upgraded to the new iOS 6.0. When I am trying to move icons around on my iPhone, it turns itself off. Is anyone else having this problem? If so, how do I correct it?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      That sounds very odd. Has it happened repeatedly? Tried restarting it fully? Hold down both the Menu and power buttons and keep holding until the white Apple logo reappears. Does that change anything?

  3. Ash said:

    Is it possible to get an iPhone to make all the apps fill the gaps. The other day I deleted a load of apps that I didn’t want, and now there are gaps everywhere. It’s kgoing to be a pain if I have to shuffle them all together one by one… Is there a way to do this automatically?

  4. Emma said:

    My nephew accidentally deleted the 4 icons at the bottom of the home screen of my ipod touch 4th gen. (music, mail, videos, safari). how do i get them back?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Good news, Emma – it’s easy.

      Scroll through the pages of apps until you find one you want, such as Safari. Then just tap and hold on the icon until it jiggles. Drag it down onto the bottom area and let go. Do the same with the other icons you want.

      To finish up press the Home button once, or drag down from the very top of the screen to display Notifications (iOS5).

      Let us know how you get on!

  5. Geof said:

    Brilliant! Very clear concise instructions.
    I’m all organised now :-)
    Thank you and well done.

  6. Emmanuel Hernandez said:

    I have used folders so as not to maximize the limit on the number of pages that can be placed on my Itouch 4. Wouldn’t the other applications not included in the previous ones during the time I installed applications appear now since I have now 4 pages instead of 11?

  7. Allison said:

    Thanks that was so helpful I’ve been trying to figure that out forever. :)

  8. Chad said:

    I can’t move an app o er another app to create a folder. Is there any other way I could do that. I want to create a private folder that other people can’t open if they have my iPod. Is there anyway that after making a folder you could lock it. Please help me. Thanks.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      I’m not aware of any way to make a private folder, I’m afraid. As for creating a folder, if you’re running a recent version of iOS it should work.

  9. John said:

    Under the newest iOS as of 11/20/11 the tap of the home button does not release the “jiggly” function. But when I hold the button down until Voice Command comes up, and then pressing “Cancel,” that dismisses the Voice control screen, and the “jiggly icons.” Kind of a pain in the butt for it not to work right.

    jf

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      John, on both my iPad and iPhone 4S with latest everything (but not voice control) the Home Button still stops the icons from jiggling.

      Perhaps you should submit a bug report to Apple.

      Thanks for reading.

      Cheers,

      Miraz

  10. Cheryl said:

    I used this to start all my app icons on the 2nd page so they wouldn’t detract from my background pic. Great article! =)

  11. Becky said:

    I simply want to have icons swap places on my iPhone 4 but instead they are put in a folder together. Help please

  12. mike said:

    Just making shore every one knows that they can change where there apps are, delete, and almost anything else by connecting your device to your computer, syncing, go to the left hand row and find your device in itunes and click on your device, go to apps. you should find a picture of your device. you can move the apps on the pic and even delete. drag and drop tell you have things like you want! ( : now just re-sync and your done! also cyda has endless amounts of things you could do with your apps. anything you can think of.

    note, you must jailbreak to get cyda. it is legal.

  13. stefanie said:

    Some how my videos icon was moved from the home row. I have know idea where it went. However, I did find it once I push the home button twice. I am terrified of deleting it here. How do I get my video icon back on the home row?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Stefanie,

      the good news is that as Videos is an app that Apple provide with the iPad you’re unable to delete it.

      Now, as for where it is – you’ll just have to scroll through the different pages to look for it. Also check inside any folders you’ve created. You may have accidentally dropped it on top of another icon, thus making a folder with both icons inside.

      Hope that helps.

  14. Michael said:

    How do you move the apps on the iPod 4G.

  15. Faustin Mathew said:

    I have the new iPhone 4, and I am facing two difficulties. One being that it does not detect any other phones bluetooth signal (even another iPhone 4) and the other is that I want to arrange my apps in alpha order so that I can access all my apps which I have loaded. It is still unlocked, and I am using a turbosim so as to make calls. Any suggestions ??

  16. PattiD said:

    I want to delete apps off my sons iPod touch, however, when I hold down the icons they wiggle but an ‘X’ does not appear. Cannot go into restrictions because I forgot the passcode I put in place. How can I change or retrieve the restrictions passcode as well as delete an app when x’s don’t appear

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      I haven’t tried using restrictions – search Apple’s forums for what to do if you forget the passcode.

      Apps that are built-in – that is, they’re already on the device when you buy it – cannot be deleted, and so don’t show an x.

  17. Samone said:

    Hi! I accidentally moved my app world to page 2. How do I get it back to page 1??

  18. Kelly said:

    Thanks, but after doing that many of my app icons have no image, just a white square. Can anyone tell me how to fix that?

  19. Gillian said:

    Accidentally zipped to the bottom of your tips and found the answer!!! Thank you sooo much!

  20. Gillian said:

    Good tips but I must be running a newer version on my iPad. Can I move icons from the second screen to the first? If so how? Dragging them to the left or right doesn’t work for me.
    Thanks!

  21. Sarah said:

    I was trying to move one of my apps on my ipod touch and it got stuck on top of another app so that a box was created with both of the apps in it. Is there a way I can remove the box? I really don’t want it to be that way.

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Sarah,

      what you’ve done by accident is something that wasn’t possible when I wrote this Tip.

      You can create folders of apps by dragging one on top of another. That creates a folder, or ‘box’ as you described it, that contains both apps, plus more if you put others in too.

      To get an app out of the folder again do this:

      1] tap on the folder to open it and show what’s inside.
      2] press and hold on the icon you want to move. The icons start to jiggle.
      3] drag the icon out of the box and keep holding it. The folder closes and you can drop the icon back on the screen. Be careful not to drop it on top of some other icon! :-)
      4] press the Home button to finish up.

      I hope that helps.

      Cheers,

      Miraz

  22. Mike Marini said:

    The whole first screen is full of crap that I will never use and all the stuff that I downloaded on purpose is buried in the next pages

    Why can’t we either delete the icons on the first page, or move them to another less important page?

    seems like a really poorly thought-out
    interface….

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Why don’t you just move the apps around so the home screen has what *you* want? That’s what I did.

      • Mike Marini said:

        Hi Miraz,

        That’s what I was actually looking for help in doing, but on the iPod itself, all you can do is move them around within the existing page (ie can’t drag an icon to another page) and the extraneous icons are permanently installed on the iPod, so they don’t have an option to delete

        On one of the “related posts” icons, I DID see a reference to moving icons using iTunes and after a bit of head scratching, I was able to move the icons that I didn’t want to the back page, just as good as deleting AFAIK

        thanks for making the other tip available, it is far less frustrating to manage content on the computer with a mouse anyway!

        sorry for being a bit grouchy but I’ve been working on fixing this for a week and the Apple sites haven’t been any help at all…I had just about given up entirely when I saw that thread about using iTunes

        thanks again!

        • Miraz Jordan said:

          Mike, you *can* move icons between pages on the iPod / iPhone / iPad itself.

          Hold on an icon so it jiggles.

          Drag it to the side edge of the screen and wait. After a moment the page changes to the next one.

          Eg from the Home Screen (page 1), drag to the right, wait, and Page 2 moves in. Keep dragging for Page 3 etc or just drop the icon in place.

          Be careful not to drop it on top of another icon or you’ll create a folder.

  23. Jim said:

    Thanks so much for your help this was EXACTLY what I was looking for!

  24. Jamie said:

    I have been trying forever to figure out how to make a blank screen on the iphone without icons (not counting the dock). Usually it won’t let you – there are tutorials to add bookmarks to the home screen, but on iphone four they show up black. Somehow, however, I did it by accident and by trial and error I figured out what I did.

    You can actually switch what icons are in the dock. What I did was in itunes (on the computer) I dragged one icon from the dock (don’t know if it works on other icons) to a blank page and then moved that page to page one (for me it will only work on the first page, not the last). Then I synced it. Then on the phone I made the icons jiggle and moved the icon back to the dock thing on the bottom. The screen stayed blank. It doesn’t last all the time when you resync things, but it doesn’t take long to set up again.

  25. chuck said:

    Boy this is embarrassing. My iPod turned itself off while I was writing all of this, and when I turned it back on again, I got the Utilities App to move to Page 2 ON THE VERY FIRST TRY!!! Please feel free to delete this and all of the above.

  26. chuck said:

    Oops, I meant Utilities, not Settings. Sorry ’bout that.

  27. chuck said:

    I didn’t have any trouble breaking the Calculator App out of Settings so that it has its own place on the home screen, but then I tried to move the Settings App to Page 2 and it wound up all by itself on Page 3! I can get it to jiggle, but no matter how many times I’ve tried to move it left so that it’s the last icon on Page 2, it always moves back to Page 3. How can I move it farther left (to Page 2)when the App is on the far left side and there’s no more screen? Sometimes I’ll flick it and the P3 screen is blank, but then when I press the Home button the App comes right back. Very frustrating!

  28. Tshexy said:

    Thanx a bunch. My disorganised apps hav been annoying me for ages now.

  29. Christy Tacker said:

    My 2 year daughter loves playing with my iphone, the problem is that she has figured out how to move the icons and even deleted a few applications from my phone. Is there a way to lock the screen where she can not move the icons or delete them, I don’t want the phone locked for use just for rearranging.

    Thanks

  30. Debbie said:

    Thanks so much for the “how to easily move apps across the page” tip. It was just what I was needing.

  31. Stinky said:

    When I rearrange the apps on the iphone, how do I get itunes to keep them that way? Whenever I sync the phone it puts it back the way it was before. I tried the transfer purchases and backup option, no luck. Since I can now have folders (OS 4 on iphone 3G) itunes wants to put them all back on the pages they used to take up, even though it allows me to create folders in itunes. Any help?

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Stinky, I’m not having that problem. It sounds as though some preference somewhere may be corrupt.

      I’d do these things:

      1] search the Apple forums to see if you find others with the same problem, and perhaps a solution.

      2] make sure you’ve copied everything of value from your iPhone (eg photos) and then do a Restore. That will wipe the phone and put almost everything back on via iTunes. It may take a while.

      • Stinky said:

        Not a fan of the wipeout. Not a fan of itunes either but I guess if you want an iphone you don’t get around that.

        The interesting thing is that when I uncheck the sync apps, it shows greyed out exactly how the apps are on the iPhone. When I check the sync apps, it comes to live and shows how they looked before I rearranged them on the iphone itself. To me it seems any changes made on the iphone are generally ignored by itunes and it overrides anything and everything.

  32. fo2sh said:

    pleaaase help me any one ….. i dont have the icon (app store) built in my ipod touch 8G ….. plzzzz any one tell me how 2 install it …. even when i connect it 2 the computer with the itunes the applications doesnt show with the other like > music , movies,etc…

    plzzzzzzzzzz help me ::::

  33. Trick305 said:

    Is there a way to get more than 11 home screen pages on the iPod touch? If so could tell me how because I have used up all my space!

  34. Tony said:

    Thanks this helped me move important apps to the default screen!!

  35. Jmccurry said:

    My daughter actually moved my phone, message, Internet, and email apps which were at the bottom where you can put 4 apps.. I cannot get them back down there?? What do I do?

    • David Anderson said:

      Moving icons to the home row is the same basic process as moving them to a different screen, but it takes a bit of finesse. When I do it, I first make sure the icon is centered vertically, between the top and bottom edges of the home row. Then, before letting go, wiggle the icon slightly left and right. After a few seconds you can let go, and it should stick. If not, try again.
      Good luck!

  36. Miraz Jordan said:

    Kuldeep, it sounds as though you might have to delete the app from within the iTunes interface when syncing with your computer. Or even just move it within iTunes.

    This website (and I) are based in Wellington, New Zealand.

  37. Kuldeep said:

    Thanks for helping me with this, it’s driving me mad! What’s your location? The times that I post are incorrect, here in the uk it’s 2245 and I’m ready for bed!

  38. Miraz Jordan said:

    Kuldeep, I’ve never struck that limit myself. Perhaps you could find the app one more time, delete it, then download a fresh copy. That should add it to the regular screens.

    • Kuldeep said:

      Thanks for that Miraz but I can’t delete it? I have tried pressing it for a few seconds but it doesn’t shake like the others and I can’t drag it to the empty spaces from the searchable bit either!

  39. Kuldeep said:

    I need help! I hit 11 pages and then downloaded another app which I can only find when I search for it. Since then I have deleted some apps, is there anyway I can move the new app in this space so I don’t have to search for it? Thanks

  40. Pink Panther said:

    The three fingers thing diddnt work for me all of my pages enlarged so the simplest way to do this if the three fingers thing doesnot work is just restore your I-pod/phone to its factory settings.

  41. Miraz said:

    That’s great Ange. Thanks for letting us know – I’m sure it’ll help someone else. :-)

    • Lisa Graham said:

      Yes!! That did help me – thank you soo much, it has been driving me crazy trying out how to get everything back to normal. Thank you thank you thank you.

  42. Miraz Jordan said:

    Ange, I don’t have the latest iPhone, but I wonder if that’s an accessibility feature. I’d look under Settings to see if there’s anything about the font size.

    Do let us know if you find an answer there.

    Cheers,

    Miraz

    • Ange said:

      I have finally figured it out! Its the three finger control! All i needed to do was tap the screen with three fingers at once……. How simple!

  43. Ange said:

    Hi, My Daughter got a hold of my iphone and now the pages are all enlarged! I cant seem to shrink them back by the normal pinching! Do you know how i can get it back to normal? I have tried switching it off and on again??? Thanx

  44. Pingback: Top 20 Tips for Apple users — Mac Tips

  45. Tyler said:

    has anyone here heard of jail-breaking? all of these problems can be solved with it.

  46. Robin Banks said:

    Thanks man, helped me out heaps!!

  47. Pingback: The iPod touch is hot now — KnowIT

  48. GNu said:

    I have over 250 apps on a 32 GB Ipod touch. Is there a way to add more than the 11 pages they give us so I can actually use them. I mean come on. They advertise 100,000 apps but only let you have access to 11 pages. Steve needs a wake up call.

    • David Anderson said:

      GNu,

      I have 17 visible pages on my 32gb iPod Touch, 2nd Generation.
      I am able to view 272 apps. I could maybe add another screen or two, but those dots across the bottom nearly fill the page.

      You can add more screens, just like I did, in three simple steps:
      1) Push “Voice Memos” off of your last visible page, onto an invisible page. 2) Download a new app to fill the hole you just created. (Delete the new app later if you wish.)
      Success? Check your second page, it should be full of apps that were previously not visible.
      3) Repeat as often as desired.

      Here is a link to my blog, explaining in further detail how I got 17 screens:
      http://spaceowl3000.blogspot.com/2009/11/add-more-screens-to-your-ipod-touch-or.html

      Let me know there or here if you have any comments, complaints or suggestions.

      Good luck!

  49. hannah said:

    thankyou sooo much this has helped me loads :D x

  50. Nick said:

    I wish i could orgainze my many icons into categories, in the same way that the App store has categories. I could then see all my games on a games page etc., and it would be nice to add my own categories too.

  51. Miraz Jordan said:

    Sami: I’m not aware of anything that stops you moving or deleting your apps.

    Do note that you can’t remove the apps that were installed with the iPhone — such as Contacts, Calendar, Safari, etc.

    • David Anderson said:

      Actually, there is a trick that you can use to get more than 11 screens with OS 3.x. I’ve come up with myself, and I’ve never seen anybody else mention it.

      I’ve just posted it as my first entry in a new blog at:

      http://spaceowl3000.blogspot.com/

      I’d love to hear some feedback on it!

      Thanks,
      David.

  52. Sami said:

    i played around with an app, and i changed the options around. Now i cant move around my apps or delete them by pressing the ”x”. I cant remember which app i used or where i went to change that option. Please help. Thanks in advance.

  53. KB said:

    What is the maximum number of pages of Apps and apps can you have?

    Is there a way to change the size of the app icons to fit more on a page

  54. Kb said:

    What is the maximum number of pages of Apps and apps can you have

  55. Kirk said:

    This tip helped make this easy. Thanks alot!

  56. Ali Moledina said:

    Just what I was looking for….great tip.

  57. Miraz Jordan said:

    Andy: the steps I outlined above work fine for moving Applications around within one screen. If I move, say, the 2nd app out of its position the others all move ‘up’ one to fill the gap, but still in the same sequence. I can then drop the one I’m ‘holding’ in any position I like and the apps move aside for it.

    So, if I start like this:

    A B C D

    I can easily move things so they are now:

    A C B D

    or any other sequence I choose.

  58. Andy said:

    Is there a way to reorganise your apps on any page without the machine just shuffling them around?
    A bit like how we organise icons on a PC desktop.

    Many thanks in advance

    Andy

  59. Miraz Jordan said:

    Yona, I just experimented and found that I could easily move an application to another (new) page. I’m running the latest updates.

  60. Yona said:

    i have a ipod touch with 5 pages of apps. id like to have a new page eventhough my last page (fifth) is not filled up with apps yet. whenever i make my apps jiggle and try to move it to the right to create a new page it wont budge.
    is there a way to create a new page without having to fill all previous pages with apps?
    Thanks for the help.

    • rman said:

      My apps won’t wiggle can someone help me. Even though I hold them for a few seconds there will only be the thing to delete them.

  61. Tim said:

    The most painless way I’m aware of to move many apps over many pages is by using the dock. You can move four apps from any page to any other in about fifteen seconds.

    The dock is always visible no matter what page you’re on so …

    1) Clear space on the dock by temporarily moving the apps from the dock onto a page with free space.
    2) Drag up to four apps you want to move onto the dock.
    3) Go to the page where you want the apps to appear and drag them off the dock.
    4) Repeat until you’re done.
    5) Drag your original apps back on the dock.

    It’s still no fun, but it sure beats the other way.

  62. E. Blair said:

    Thank you very much for your help.

  63. Miraz Jordan said:

    Nish, thanks for your question.

    I’m not aware of any way to change that, I’m afraid, but it’s the kind of Feedback the Apple developers should hear.

    Visit: http://www.apple.com/feedback/ and tell them what you do and don’t want to see happening with your iPod touch.

    Cheers,

    Miraz

  64. nish said:

    Whenever I install a new app on my ipod touch, instead of the icon showing up at the end, it fills in any empty space on earlier pages first. Is there any way to change the settings so the icons automatically go to the end? I’d like to be able to keep some of those spots empty. Thanks!

  65. Miraz Jordan said:

    Fantastic, tes15. Thanks for the feedback.

    Remember to check the Related Posts listed above for other iPod touch and iPhone tips.

  66. tes315 said:

    This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you.

  67. Justin said:

    Thanks that really helped! Now my iTouch is actually organized :D

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