How to Organize Apps on Your iPad

The dock, folders, and the App Library can keep your iPad as organized as you want it to be

What to Know

  • Folders: Press and hold the icon. Once the menu appears, tap Edit Home Screen. Drag the app on top of another app to create a folder.
  • Add to dock: Press and hold the icon until a menu appears. Press Edit Home Screen. Drag the icon onto your dock.
  • To sort alphabetically: Settings > General > Reset > Reset Home Screen Layout > Reset.

This article explains how to organize apps on your iPad's home screen. These instructions cover the most recent versions of iPadOS.

Organize Your iPad With Folders

Once you have created a folder, 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 top of a folder.

  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, entertainment, financial, etc. If you aren't using a folder, drag the apps in it onto the Home screen. The folder will then disappear.

Place Your Most-Used Apps on the Dock

The apps on the dock at the bottom of the iPad's screen stay the same regardless of which Home screen is displayed. This area is a good home for your most-used apps. Up to 15 apps can fit on an iPad's dock (depending on the model), so there's plenty of room to personalize your dock experience. After the first half dozen apps, the icons shrink to accommodate additional 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 permanently in the dock, it may be ready to launch from the dock if you've 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 iOS and iPadOS versions, 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

The dock is intended for your most-used apps, while the Home screen is 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 many apps from any Home screen.

So, instead of using the dock for the apps you want to access easily, 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 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, as arranged when you first launched the iPad. Apps you download later are not alphabetized. These apps appear after the last app, 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.
  • Do I have to organize my apps?

    No. Having apps filling up many home screens is fine and doesn't slow down your iPad. But it can be annoying to find an app. If you don't want to bother organizing apps, consider using App Library to maintain the apps for you. To get to any app, you can use the singular App Library screen or, as mentioned above, search for the app you want. App Library works the same on iPad as it does on the iPhone.

  • How do I organize widgets on my iPad's home screen?

    When it comes to moving widgets around, think of them as apps. To move them about, simply tap and hold and press Edit Home Screen or continue to hold until the widget starts shaking. Then just drag the widget where you'd like it to be. iPadOS limits where widgets can go, so if the OS doesn't allow it where you'd like it, it'll slide back to where it used to be.

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