How to organize apps on an iPhone aesthetically – 6 tricks for a better-looking home screen

An untidy home screen will be a thing of the past thanks to these expert tips on how to aesthetically organize apps

an iphone with organized apps
(Image credit: Future)

If there's anything more satisfying than having an organized home screen on your iPhone, it's having aesthetically organized apps. Finding that specific app hidden among hoards of icons can be seriously stress-inducing, but knowing where to find your apps at the click of a button (pardon the pun) really does make life just that little bit easier. Especially when they look good too. 

Most of us are guilty of letting our apps pile up in the default order our phone decides. Before you know it, you're scrolling through four home screen pages just to open Instagram. Maybe you went as far as categorizing your social media apps in one place, but they probably still look like a jumbled mess of colors and names. 

Apps probably aren't the first thing you think of at the mention of design - unless you're discussing the best interior design apps for a beautiful home - but having a screen that looks good as well as being practical really is one of life's small pleasures. But, just like being faced with designing a new room, knowing where to start with your phone's homepage can be just as overwhelming. 

Deciding on the most logical order to put your apps in isn't easy, and knowing how to make them aesthetically pleasing is even harder. Thankfully these experts have a few tricks up their sleeves to make organizing your iPhone simple, and they know a thing or two about beautifully arranging apps, too. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interiors. She's committed to helping readers acknowledge the beauty of design both in and out of the home, and our technology is no exception. For this piece she spoke with leading phone developers to understand how you can make something as simple as a phone screen aesthetically pleasing. 

How to organize apps on an iPhone aesthetically 

1. Arrange into folders and add custom icons 

The most simple way to ensure your apps are well organized is by creating folders. Apple allows you to make designated folders on your screen by holding down on an app and hovering it over another one. Your phone will automatically assign those apps a new folder, which can then be named accordingly.

'Put similar apps in one folder helps to reduce clutter,' says Stavros Zavrakas, founder of software house, Orthogonality . 'For example, you could group apps into specific folders for social media, finance, entertainment and sport.'

2. Use custom icons 

While folders clear up your screen and make apps easier to find, there's no guarantee they'll look especially appealing. This is where custom icons come in. 'You can add custom icons for apps you choose to place on your home screen,' explains Stravros. 'This can be done by creating a shortcut and adding an image to it.' 

From your home screen, select the Shortcuts app > + button > Action > Open App > select the app you want this shortcut to open > Settings (on top right) > Add to Home Screen > Name the Shortcut. 

From the drop-down menu, select Take Photo/Choose Photo/Choose File > choose your replacement image > Add > Done. 

It might seem like a lot of steps involved, but customizing your icons can make your apps appear far neater and more uniform. Choose themed icons so that your camera, weather and email icons are all similar graphics and create a color palette so your apps match. Now you can curate an app screen that's personal to you. 

3. Choose widgets for your home screen

Many of us forget to utilize the widget's features available for our phones. Hold down your home screen and you'll be offered various recommend widgets, including clock faces, enlarged maps, photo selections from your camera roll, and top updates from your favorite apps. 

Widgets offer a glimpse into your various apps, allowing you to tailor your home screen according to whatever is most important to you. If you're bored of staring at small squares, widgets also add variety to your screen.  

'Try to choose widgets that either take up half the screen, or its full width, and place them together near the top of the screen to keep everything organized,' says Tom Paton, founder of Green Smartphones

Below those, he suggests categorizing your apps into three categories to keep them organized: essential, great, and good to have. '"Essential" apps are ones you use all the time that you always want immediate access to, without having to make multiple taps,' he explains. '"Great" apps are ones you use regularly, at least once every few days, but not more than ten times every day while "good to have" you might go for an extended period without opening.' 

4. Designate home screens according to category

You can also designate separate home screen pages for your categories, with the essential apps on the first page, great apps on the second, and good to have apps on the final page.

'As a result, everything urgent is on the first screen, while the apps for your entertainment and basic needs are just one swipe away,' says Ernest Piatrovich, product manager at the design and graphic app, Themify. 'In 80 percent of cases you’ll need only the first two screens.'

He adds: 'The good thing about using pages is that if you fill up the previous screens, all the new apps you download will automatically appear in that “uncertain” zone and won’t ruin your “almost perfect” order.'

Not only will this ease the process of finding your apps, but you can then customize the icons within each category and home page for a more aesthetic appearance. Don't forget you can sub-categorize into folders, too.

5. Use a wallpaper to tie in the aesthetic 

To tie all your apps together and make your iPhone's home screen look more cohesive, don't overlook the power of your background wallpaper too. Default wallpapers or photos can make great backgrounds, but if you're going for a more themed look, search for a design online. 

'Your homepage background affects the aesthetics of your phone,' says Tom. 'If you're after a very minimalist look, try changing to an all-black or all-white background. Or, you might like to tone-match the background with the colors of your favorite apps, such as the pink of the Instagram logo.'

There are plenty of apps and websites that allow you download free wallpapers for your phone. If you need inspiration before organizing your apps, why not find a wallpaper first and then build your theme from there? 

6. Download an app for prebuilt themes

If you're deterred from downloading yet another app, let a theme builder be your last. These nifty apps allow you to install prebuilt themes for your apps and home screen so you have the ultimate aesthetic phone screen. 

Themify is a good place to start if you want to find a theme to match your personal style. From neon graphics and sparkly icons, to more minimalist, monochromatic color schemes, you'll have the aesthetically organized phone of your dreams. 

'A theme will freshen up your home screen and make it look fabulous,' explains Ernest. 'We have over 500 themes to everyone’s taste, and the number keeps growing!'

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.