Use iTunes to arrange apps on your iPhone screen

Use iTunes to arrange apps on your iPhone screen
Mac Tip #406, 14 October 2009

Arrange the apps on your iPhone or iPod from within iTunes. The instructions are the same for the iPad, iPod touch and the iPhone.

This Tip was written with Mac OS X 10.6.1, iTunes 9.0.1, and iPod software 3.1.2. Older versions of the software may not allow you to arrange iPod applications within iTunes.

Watch the video


Please visit the video on YouTube too and leave comments and rate it. That helps spread the word about the MacTips.

Plug in your device

  1. Plug your iPad, iPhone or iPod in to your Mac and start up iTunes.
  2. Select the device in the Source list on the left of the iTunes window. The Summary tab is displayed in the main part of the window.
  3. Click on the Applications tab in the list of tabs across the main part of the iTunes window. iTunes displays a list of Applications so you can select which apps to sync. It also displays a mock-up of the device’s screen and thumbnails representing the pages of apps.

Select applications to sync

In the Sync Applications list check the box beside any applications you wish to sync with the currently plugged in device. When you next sync that device any changes will take effect.

If you have more than one device you can choose applications for each one: the list changes when a specific device is attached.

The Springboard

Springboard is the formal name of the home screen on iOS devices. Like the Mac Finder or the Windows Desktop, Springboard enables you to find the particular app you need.

Thanks to Bruce Tognazzini for this terminology. See below for the credit.

Arrange apps.

Arrange apps.

Add and remove apps from the device’s Toolbar

A representation of the currently attached device’s Springboard is displayed on the right-hand side of the main Applications window in iTunes. You can drag icons around and in and out of that representation just as though you were working directly on the device itself.

Drag icons out of or into the Toolbar to remove or add them, just as you would on the iPad, iPhone or iPod.

Drag icons from one page to another

To move applications from one page to another in the Springboard:

  1. Go to the page with the icon you wish to move and select the relevant icon. In my video I selected the MyTrades app from Page 1.
  2. Drag the icon out of that page and drop it onto the thumbnail of the destination page. The destination page is now displayed at full size and the app is added at the end. In my movie I dragged the icon on top of the thumbnail for Page 4.

Rearrange apps within one page

If you don’t like the order in which apps are displayed on a page drag them into new positions.

Apply the changes

After rearranging apps click the Apply button at the bottom of the iTunes window. The device is synced and the changes are applied to the handheld device.


Are you irritated by the way the icons move themselves around to fill gaps you’ve created? You’re not the only one. Here’s how Bruce Tognazzini describes it:

Instead of copying the highly-flexible Mac Desktop, Springboard inadvertently ended up copying the Windows 95 Desktop, with icons auto-positioning themselves ever-upward, ever-leftward.

Tognazzini has a very interesting article about all of this at Restoring Spring to iPhone Springboard. I strongly suggest you read it if you’re at all interested in iPhone and iPod apps and how they display on your handheld device.

Do you have any comments on this Tip? Add them below.

Related posts

[wpzon keywords="pressure cooker" sindex="PCHardware" snode="1232597011" sort="salesrank" listing="8"]


  1. ERICK RUMANZI said:

    Hi, i have failed to rearrange my apps icons in my iphone. Sometime before it used to be possible but i don’t know what the problem is at the moment. The attached device’s springboard displays itself on the right-hand side of the mains applications window in iTunes but in ‘faint form’(this never use to happen before) hence when you try dragging the items, nothing happens. Please assist.


  2. Janaka said:

    I use itunes to rearrange my icons in iphone 4s & when I sync it works perfectly.
    but my problem is when I connect to itnes in a different pc using home sharing the icon order changes back to the order in that pc.I use both my pc’s to download apps in itunes.please let me know how to correct this problem.Thanks

  3. Faustin Mathew said:

    Hi there, I have a iPhone 4 with a base band of 3.10.1 and I have jailbroken it already and using it as a regular phone. I have two problems which has come to my notice recently. First being that on two occasions, a mail was sent automatically to a few friends of mine as well as to some of the consultancy firms where I had given my resume for a job, and it turned out to be a virus of certain degree. On both occasions, my friends notified me about receiving the mails. Second one is that I have seen that the Bluetooth doesn’t get connected with any other phone or device nor does it get connected with another iPhone 4 as well. Can you please advice on these two aspects !!
    Many thanks in an anticipation

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Hi Faustin, if you’ve jailbroken your phone and now it’s not working correctly your best bet would be to seek help from the people who supplied the jailbreaking software.



  4. Mike Marini said:

    Thanks, THIS was the solution that I was looking for in the other thread on how to delete or move icons

    It took a while to figure out though as the iTunes screen looks quite different in Windows, might be good to have both versions showing

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      Ah, thanks Mike. I hadn’t noticed *which* post the comment was attached to. :-)

      I don’t use Windows (or even have installed anywhere at the moment), so screenshots from Windows are a problem. If you have one you can send through I’d happily add it.

  5. Miraz Jordan said:

    Thanks for letting us know about that Joanie. It’s annoying when things like that are hard to track down. It’s great to get the information out there.

  6. Joanie said:

    Just so you’ll know, I was having all kinds of trouble getting “Devices” to show up on the left column of my ITunes application on my Mac. I tried troubleshooting every possible issue my computer or the software could be having. Nothing worked…right up until something worked.

    I have a PC emulator on my Mac – VMware Fusion. It is amazing. I just love it. The best $70 I’ve spent in a long time.

    The minute I turned off VMware Fusion “Devices” popped up on my ITunes and there was my IPhone.

    Hope this information helps someone else.

  7. Alex Mandel said:

    Hi, I have a problem with syncing my iPhone in iTunes and the organization of my apps. And the odd thing is that this problem does not happen all the time, and I can’t figure out why is happening: I have my apps organized in certain way on my iPhone, and when I connect the iPhone to my computer without syncing it, they look (to the right of the springboard, though not “live”) as they are in my phone. But if I click on the “sync” icon, all the organization gets scrambled, and if I do proceed with the syncing (as I’ve done several times, hoping that it won’t happen again), they get rearranged in the iPhone.
    Any clues? This has never happened when I sync the iPhone with my laptop (MacBook Pro)

  8. Pingback: Use iTunes to arrange apps on your iPhone screen — Mac Tips | Mac Affinity

Comments are closed.