CAUTION- Do this BEFORE upgrading  iOS or before getting a new iPhone
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(Note, this article was originally published September 17, 2013 when the iPhone 5 was released.  It has been updated for newest iOS 10–steps haven’t changed since iOS7)
Whether you are buying an iPhone 7 or 7+ or upgrading to …

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Step by Step: How to Organize Apps into Folders in iTunes (iPhone OS4 & iOS5 Tips)

Submitted by on July 2, 2010 – 12:17 am7 Comments

Got tons of applications (apps) on your iPhone , and tired of flipping through screens to find them? With OS4 you can make it easier to find your apps by putting them into folders.  Now you can have a folder for travel apps and another for business apps, and another for social media, or you can put your most used apps together, etc. Create app folders to suit the way your brain will find them. Later, click on the folder that corresponds to your present need–play a game, find a restaurant in a new city, whatever…

It’s relatively simple to do and it sure beats flipping through a dozen screens to find the app you want.

If you only have a couple of apps that you want to group together, you can do it right on your iPhone.  See this blog for step-by-step instructions to create folders in iPhone OS4.

If you want to do a major organization and move apps between screens, it’s easier to organize and move apps in iTunes on the computer.

Below you’ll find tips and tricks to creating folders and organizing apps for iPhone OS4.

Here’s how to create iPhone app folders in iTunes:

BE SURE TO SEE THE WARNING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BLOG!!!!

(Look for yellow arrows in each photo…outlined arrows indicate movement in that direction.)

  1. Open iTunes on your computer.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
  3. When the iPhone icon appears in the left column, click on  the tab labeled Apps.
  4. On the left side of the main window is a list of all of your apps, on the right are pictures of each screen on your iPhone.

    There are 11 app screen pages that will be displayed on the iphone. If you have more apps than fill the 11 pages, those apss will be available to use on your phone but you can only open them by searching for them as the extra apps won’t be displayed on a screen.  In this photo, the apps that won’t fit on the displayable first 11 pages, are shown in gray to the right at the bottom of the pages list.

    On the right side there…
    You can click on app icons to drag them around. This is also where you can move the app icons around on each page, and you can drag to change the order of pages.
  5. To create a new folder: Drag one app on top of another to start a folder.

    When you drag one app on top of another, a folder screen appears.
  6. When a new folder is created, iTunes may autofill the name of the folder if both apps are from a certain category –travel, games, entertainment.  Still, it doesn’t always autofill or you may want a different title.
    You can input a new title by clicking on the “x” on the name line, and typing in a word to rename it.  Once you close the folder, notice that you have about 12 characters that will fit below the folder icon (less if you capitalize the title).
  7. There are a couple of ways to add more apps to that folder.

    A. While the folder is open, you can drag apps from the list on the left to the open folder screen.
    or

    B. You can drag an app from the left side to a closed folder.
    or

    C. You can drag an app icon from the screen pages into an open or closed folder.
    TIP: When dragging icons from one page to another: click and hold on the icon to move then hover over the page to which you want to move the app icon.  That page will become the big screen and you can then drop the icon into place or into a folder.
    Another TIP: If you try to drag an icon to a folder and the folder starts to play “keep away” and dance around (see my video ), approach the folder by sneaking up on it from the bottom.  Once the folder swells, let go and drop your app icon.
  8. When you are done organizing, (and from time to time along the way) press “Apply” Once you do, the “sync” button appears.

TIPS and Warnings for First Time Organization of Apps into Folders in iPhone OS4

Remember:  You need two apps to start a folder…for example you can’t start a “Travel Apps” folder in anticipation of adding more travel apps.  The folder creation starts with dragging one app on top of another.

Tip for Easy First Time Organization:

  1. Look through your apps and decide how you want to organize them.  For example, I have so many photography apps, I want one folder for apps where I can shoot pictures–I call it “Camera apps” –and another folder for photography apps to edit existing photos (and another to share photos to various sites).You may just want a single folder for each category–games, travel, entertainment.  If you decide to organize by app category, sort your apps in the left list by category.


    WARNING: Be sure that the box is checked next to your chosen app in the left list or it may not sync to your iPhone when you are done. (Also see the most important warning below!)

    Tip: While you are organizing…
    You can delete icons on the right to make room on the page for the two app icons you need to start a new folder (see Step 5 above).  When you move along further in the organization process, you can add them again.
    (If you accidently sync before you add the app icon back onto the page, you will receive a message when syncing your phone asking if you want to delete the missing app from your iPhone. You can cancel the sync so you don’t remove the app, its settings and data from the phone.)

    If you have a big job, you will want to sync along the way to be sure you don’t lose your changes…if you do that, you will have to make sure all of the app icons appear somewhere on a screen thumbnail on the right.  If you don’t, you risk losing data.  So either wait until the end or just drop the icons anywhere on screens so they don’t get deleted from your phone.

  2. With the left list of apps sorted by category, it is fast to add similar apps to a folder.
    NOTE: A  folder can only hold 12 apps.  If you have more, start a new folder.  Perhaps you can be more specific in your grouping of files.  For example, I have a travel folder called “road travel” for when I drive on trips, and one called  “travel agent” for apps use when I fly.

WARNING!!!!!!!!!!     WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You MUST SYNC YOUR IPHONE BEFORE DISCONNECTING IT from your computer!  FAILURE TO DO SO WILL RESULT IN LOSS OF ALL OF YOUR HARD ORGANIZING WORK! (Yes, I made that mistake. Even though I clicked on “apply,” I grabbed my phone to leave for a while, disconnecting without syncing… After having spent 2 hours of organizing 250 apps, I had to start all over.)

If you have only a few apps that you want to put into folders, you may want to organize them into folders directly on your iphone.  See my next blog for how to do that.

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