How to Organize Apps on Your iPad

Use folders and the dock to organize your apps

Although there seems to be an app for everything, you won't find an app to help you organize apps on your iPad. When you download apps from the App Store, practice some basic app organization tactics.

Instructions in this guide refer to the most recent versions of iOS and to iPadOS 13 and later.

The iPad home screen

Organize Your iPad With Folders

Creating folders is an important tool for curating apps on your device. Moving an app to a folder is as simple as moving an app. However, instead of dropping the app on an open area on the iPad Home screen, you drop it on a folder app.

  1. Tap and hold the app icon until a menu appears, then select Edit Home Screen. (The app icons wiggle and display an X logo.)

    The Edit Home Screen command on an iPad
  2. With your finger, tap and drag the app to one of the available folder app icons. If you want to create a new folder, drag the app onto an app that you would like to share the folder with.

  3. Add a name to the folder by tapping the name area, or keep the default title. The iPad recognizes types of apps, so if you create a folder with two weather apps in it, the name will be Weather.

    The name field for an iPad folder
  4. Tap outside of the folder to return to the Home screen. Now you can tap, hold, and drag additional apps into the folder.

  5. Tap Done to stop moving app icons.

    The Done button for organizing the home screen on an iPad

Make several folders to hold your apps. For example, create folders for games, productivity apps, entertainment apps, financial apps, and so on. If you aren't using a folder, drag the apps in it to the Home screen, and the folder disappears.

Place Your Most-Used Apps on the Dock

The apps on the dock at the bottom of the screen stay the same no matter which Home screen is currently displayed. This area is a good home for your most-used apps. You can put up to 15 apps on the dock, so there's plenty of room to personalize your dock experience. After the first half dozen apps, the app icons shrink to make room for additional app icons. You can change the size of the dock in the Settings app.

The dock displays the three recently used apps automatically. Even if you don't have an app docked, it may be ready for you to launch from the dock if you opened it recently.

You can place an app on the dock in the same way you would move it:

  1. Tap and hold the app icon until a menu appears, then select Edit Home Screen. (The app icons wiggle and display an X logo.)

    In older versions of iOS and iPadOS, you don't need to select Edit Home Screen. Instead, tap and hold an app icon to open the home screen edit mode.

    The"Edit Home Screen command on an iPad
  2. With your finger, tap and drag the app onto the dock. Hold until the other apps on the dock move out of the way.

  3. Release your finger.

    You can also move apps around in the dock until the order suits your preferences.

If your dock is full or if you need one of the default apps on the dock, move apps off the dock as you would move apps from anywhere. When you move the app off the dock, the other apps reposition on the dock.

Place Folders on the Dock

One of the coolest ways to organize an iPad is to flip the script. The dock is intended for your most-used apps. The Home screen is intended for your folders and the rest of your apps. However, you can use the Home screen for the most popular apps and the dock for everything else. To do this, fill the dock with folders. Placing a folder on the dock is a great way to access a slew of apps from any Home screen.

So, instead of using the dock for the apps you want to easily access, leave these apps on the first page of your Home screen. Then, put your other apps in folders on the dock.

Sort the Apps Alphabetically

There is no way to keep your apps permanently organized alphabetically, but you can sort apps without moving each app. Here's the workaround.

  1. Open the Settings app.

    The Settings app on iPad
  2. Go to the left menu pane and select General.

    The General heading in iPad Settings
  3. Choose Reset.

    The Reset heading under General settings
  4. Select Reset Home Screen Layout and confirm your choice in the dialog box that appears by selecting Reset.

    The Reset Home Screen Layout command

This procedure sorts all the apps you downloaded in alphabetical order. Downloaded apps appear after the default apps, which are arranged the same as when you first launched the iPad. Apps you download later are not alphabetized. These apps appear at the end of the apps, as usual.

Skip Organizing the iPad and Use Spotlight Search or Siri

If you have too many apps to count, the basic organizing tips for the iPad may not be sufficient to keep your iPad easy to navigate. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Open any app at any time using Spotlight Search, which you can find by swiping right on the Home screen. The tool offers a search field and several suggestions for recently used apps.
  • Open an app using Siri. Press and hold the Home button to start Siri and then say Launch Notes or Launch Mail or whichever app you want to open.