How Do You Organise Your Smartphone's Home Screen?

When you have a lot of apps on your smartphone, you want them catalogued in a way that is easy to comprehend, right? Do you even care? A quick look around the Gizmodo office reveals some widely different approaches to phone screen organisation.

Inspired by our pals over at Business Insider, I did a quick poll around the office, asking the guys from Kotaku and Lifehacker and here at Gizmodo how they organise their home screens. Here are the results.

Leading the story is publisher Danny Allen, who has a good mix of folders and standalone apps. He's clearly a big fan of Samsung's apps on his Galaxy Note 3, travels a fair bit, and uses a bunch of reading apps like Pocket. He still uses the stock TouchWiz launcher, though, so he's stuck with the stock Internet browser in his quick launch bar instead of Chrome -- ew.

On the left, here's what weekend editor Logan Booker does to get that customised monochrome layout on his iPhone: "I guess I like to keep mine clean, so this is my setup on my 5s (jailbroken of course). Just two screens with the essentials and folders along the bottom for everything else. I also use a custom font, PT Sans. FYI, I spelt "Favorites" because with the extra "u" the text disappears from the folder."

My home screen -- I only have a single pane, since I hate swiping sideways just to get to other apps -- is organised in an upside-down triangle. Since the LG G3 has an awesomely large 5.5-inch display, and I usually use it right-handed, the icons are organised to be within a comfortable range of motion of my right thumb. Everything's in 'cover' folders courtesy of Action Launcher, which is my Android launcher of choice. I usually use Muzei for my backgrounds, but haven't installed it just yet.

Lifehacker editor Angus Kidman, who runs a Nexus 5 daily, has a method to his madness: "This is how my (stock standard) Android phone is customised. Regular controls (phone, messaging, Chrome, camera) at the bottom. Google stuff on the lift (the Google folder has everything, but Drive and Maps are what I use all the time so I break them out). Then social networking in a column, photo management in a column and work apps in a column. Simple but effective. You’ll notice I haven’t even bothered to change the wallpaper!"

Giz editor Luke, who uses both an iPhone and an Android phone simultaneously, is big on folders, but keeps the clock out to set a bunch of alarms every day. The Play Store app also gets a regular workout, so it gets its own spot. The iPhone screenshot you see here is apparently hugely inconvenient, but at least it looks nice and colourful.

In case you hadn't noticed, there's an obvious omission here. Mark Serrels, Kotaku editor extraordinaire, doesn't care in the slightest how his phone's icons are arranged: "​There are times when I feel really out of place in this office. I honestly, truly put zero thought into this and never will." Maybe we're the weird ones.

How do you organise your smartphone's home screen? Let us know in the comments.



    This post reminds me of why I hate iOS and Android. It's like the Windows XP desktop for your phone.

    Will stick to my Windows Phone which shows me the things I care about right there on my start screen, instead of static apps with a notification number.

    My current start screen. If it doesn't have a livetile, or it's something all I need is a notification number, then it gets downgraded to tiny.

    Last edited 04/08/14 11:17 am

      It's a mystery to me why Windows Phones hasn't been more successful. I've not used it a lot, but what I've seen looks great. If it got the App support it deserved, I'd look at it seriously.

        I think the biggest are customer perception, as well as salesman bias. Also for those who visit gizmodo, realising something like 6tag is not only instagram, but better isn't hard. For your average pleb though, if they can't find instagram, they don't want the phone. I think last I checked the instagram beta had stopped sucking at least.

        Marketing is a reason why it isn't doing better, WP never had any real advertising until Nokia. Telstra and Optus push Android based phones more because they get higher profits out of them. iPhones haven't really changed its look for over ten years and the way Apple markets their devices has help pushed it into everything and on to everyone. Not to mention the treatment given to MS for not really doing anything wrong expect creating a great a looking Mobile OS.

      Everything on you start screen all at once. Looks like a convoluted mess. Would rather a notification screen.

        I have a notification screen, performs different duties.

          Sorry. I meant that I would rather just the notification screen and a few live tiles. I think Windows Phone is the best OS Microsoft has made but I don't use it only because I use my iPhone and iPad for music production and Windows Phone Store lacks that apps I use. I hope Microsoft doesn't drop Windows Phone in favour of Windows RT for phones.

            They are most definitely going to merge by Windows 9, I can't see it going any other way.

        There is a notification center.

          But it's not on the home screen, it's hidden away. I think Peter Andre wants his notifications front and centre. That's the way I like it, and is one of the reasons why I prefer Windows Phone over IOS.

      Nice home screen, here's mine.

      Did you know if you pin the steam store website, it'll automatically become a live tile?

        Nice, there are a few sites like that. They work in Windows 8 too. Also you can get apps to make all those Rudy Huyn apps you have pinned transparent, like 6tag, 6snap and 6sec.

        That's a very specific tile: 'Why new moms kill kids'

          Yeh it's the news tile. It's okay for the occasional news alert push notification but that's about all I use it for.

      I agree I love the windows phones layout. Iv had two different windows phones omnia 7 and lumia 900. Unfortunately I switched to android a while back. Mainly due to lack of apps and the hardware was a step behind back then. I felt like I was getting ripped off paying iPhone or galaxy prices for phones that where mid range specs. Its good to see that is changing now. I may go back with my next phone if the apps have improved. I really want to love windows phones but sometimes you really feel like your being left out of some of the good stuff that android and apple ecosystem has.

        The worst is really when some app appears and becomes the next big thing. We can be left behind for a while, while iOS is always the starting point, and eventually some small app team with the new most popular service on the planet grows to Android. By the time Windows Phone gets some of these apps they're fading out.

      im wating for the android based windows phone, the organization of Windows with apks and play store

        That would get me running back to iPhone quick smart.

          haha na i just believe its the one way forward for windows phones, to adopt more android backend features.

            I refuse to use Google services, so would leave quickly.

            Seriously though, Android app store is a life support for a dying OS. Once you have it, the native apps stop, and there is no reason to use your OS over Android.

    I just have a random mess of apps, the only ones I put any thought into organising are the messaging and contacts applications. My tablet is slightly better organised, I have a main homescreen with my most used apps and games, a digital clock and a timetable widget, then another two homescreens with gmail/calendar widgets and other application icons.

    Last edited 04/08/14 11:19 am

    Any apps I want just one press away I have in the bottom-bar (e.g. text message, call, browser, e-mail), and my home screen has the widget for App Dialer Pro. It is faster for me to enter the first few chars of the app I want on a T9 interface to launch it than to go into folders to find it.

      That reminds me of the way you used to be able to launch apps on WebOS. Just slide out the keyboard and start typing the name of the app. *sigh*, 3 years later and I still miss WebOS :'(

        Not to mention missing a hardware keyboard.

    Because I work across timezones, I keep that front and centre. Then everything else just...arranged by frequency of use.

      Dude what are those app icons you got?

        Click UI. Sexiest icon pack on the Play Store imo.

          Thanking you, Nova launcher with a 6x5 grid with those icons. I have to admit, it's looking sexy again.

    Nice and minimal for me here, using Facets wallpapers because they're gorgeous.

      Nice, just bought the app thanks to you!

      What Widget are you using for the clock?

    Widgets on about 5 screens.
    I use Nova Launcher.
    The quick launch icons on the bottom of my screen are actually folders if swiped instead of pressed.

      I use (and purchased) Nova and haven't really explored the features, but now I'm going to do so: press-for-action swipe-for-folder sounds excellent.

      I do that too, I have multiple browser, so tapping the icon launches Chrome Beta and swiping reveals Opera and Firefox.

    My home screen is essentially folders of games, sorted by genre - action, rpg, etc... I can't be the only one.

    Only three home pages. Mostly widgets with most used app icons below them. The rest of the apps are in folders in the app section. Wallpaper is all black dimple to make everything stand out and to reduce battery consumption. Very neat and functional.


    Phone, Email, Browser and Music app in the tray. Important apps that I use regularly on the front with 4 folders for useful but less important apps. Second page is for games and things that I just end up forgetting about. Since I have an iPhone I don't have widgets but even when I had an Android phone I wasn't a fan of them.

    I have a nexus 4 unrooted.
    I keep my home screen totally clear of apps. Just a straight blank page.

    The screen to the right of my home screen has folders for pretty much all my apps, games, utils, Google stuff, etc.
    The screen to the left of home has calculator, messages icon (from bottom of screen), wolfram alpha and that's about it.
    Anything I don't use regularly gets removed from the screens back to the big app bin.
    Dolphin browser replaces chrome and k9 mail replaces messages down the bottom.

    I've got 4 homescreens on my Nexus 4 - The main one (screenshot below) and 3 others with widgets such as Email , Gmail , G.Keep and a couple of system settings shortcuts (eg: battery, data usage, etc.)

    Has anyone checked Luke's basement for bodies? That iphone layout is creeping me out.

    On my Nexus 5, I use Themer with the Dark Pro UI and also use Cover for my Lock Screen that will figure out which are my most commonly used apps based on location. I also use the Belle UI Icon pack to top it all off. Noice.

    Themer Dark Pro UI Example:
    Cover lock screen:
    Belle UI Icon Pack:

    Last edited 04/08/14 5:34 pm

      I should add, in addition to the above setup, when I switch back to the default launcher on the Nexus 5, I have four folders in the bottom row (ie two on each side of the menu button).

      The first folder called "Contact" is for phone related activities: Dialler, People, Hangouts, Gmail, Email, and a few direct dials to those who I call often.

      The second folder is called "Tools" and it has those apps that I use often like Calendar, Calculator, Keep, Play Store, QuickOffice, Chrome, and a money management app.

      The third folder called "Media" has shortcuts to: Camera, Gallery, Play Music, Default music app, Shazam, Voice recorder, MX player, Skype and YouTube.

      The fourth folder callled "Navigate" has Maps, Compass, Car Mode, Arrivo Sydney, TripView, Trapster, Earth, mTaxi, Cheap Parking, and a short cut navigation to Home.

      Below the google search bar I have the default clock app, and the rest of the space on the home page is empty so I can look at my wallpaper. Besides this, I have the Google Now page and no other home pages.

    Last edited 04/08/14 5:34 pm

      Another metrostation icon pack user here.

      Here is mine (some minor calender redaction going on);

      A little more minimal than most...

    My OCD iPhone homescreen...

    Last edited 04/08/14 5:39 pm

    How to change wallpaper of my IPhone display automatically after a fix interval?......

    I use a launcher called 'smart launcher pro 2' with an icon pack called 'elun'.

    Homescreen (works in landscape also) :

    Apps button where the launcher automatically sorts apps by category. You can customise this of course but the simplicity is that you don't have to do anything, either.

    Last edited 05/08/14 2:15 am

    I use Apex Launcher, have no icons on my screen besides the 7 in the dock.
    Hangouts | Facebook | Google+ | App Drawer | Instagram | Cleaner | Phone

    All my apps are inside the app drawer, sorted alphabetically with a 6x8 grid. I only have 33 icons in the app drawer too, so doesn't even fill the screen running 320DPI on my Nexus 5.

    Given how busy some of you guys seem to be and the amount of travel you do, I'm surprised no one (on Android anyway) is using widgets to show calendar appointments, news/email summaries etc. :/

      If you've got a Nexus device, swipe left to right and you get Google Now that shows you your appointments for the day. These reminders also pop up in your notification tray so why would we need an additional widget for this? It would only consume extra RAM. Email and news is something I can check if I really want to but dont need a RAM hogging widget for it to keep me updated all the time. A browser shortcut to my favourite news site is sufficient.

    I'm actually really liking Aviate as my launcher (now Yahoo! Aviate). I've put the 10 apps I use the most on the main screen along with a weather widget and a nice picture (actually a widget that changes images so I always have something different).
    When I swipe I have my smart categories in order of which I use most (Games are on top), and the 5 most used in each of those categories are on top so I can access them without expanding the category. Inside the expanded category they're not really organised at all, but they're already in that category.
    Another left swipe takes me to in my opinion the nicest app drawer, organised alphabetically and group by letter, finding literally any app requires next to no hunting (except if it begins with S, because my Galaxy Note 3 has a crap-ton of apps beginning with S)
    Swiping in the opposite direction is different depending on the situation. At work I have an agenda widget, note taking and productivity apps and widgets for JIRA issues. At home I have a unified remote widget for controlling my HTPC, A widget showing my internet usage for the month, and Google now (usually shows me stuff I'd like to read). When I'm out and about it shows map apps, a widget with my Myki balance, photo/camera apps and games (I'm on public transport quite a bit). Also, when I plug in headphones I get my music apps and a nice music widget.

    I've played with quite a few different launchers, but I keep coming back to Aviate.

      I've got Aviate on my Nexus 5 and have used it for the last month. Its quite good but I would be interested to see a screenshot or two of your setup. I've also got Jolla Launcher on my phone as I am one of the beta testers. I dont think too highly of it, but in fairness it is a work in progress.

    That Business Insider article is basically just a list of their favourite apps. Only two of them have customised in any way other than a grid of apps.

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