Guides

How to declutter your iPhone with iOS 14’s special features

If your iPhone looks like it got hit by a tornado, we're here to help.

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Phones can get pretty messy, and we’re not just talking about fingerprint smudges and pizza grease, we’re talking about the other mess — the one inside your phone.

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If you’re one of the many iPhone users who suffers from constant app-induced clutter, we’ve got some good news: Apple’s iOS 14 now has a suite of features that can make your home screen feel a little less claustrophobic.

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Here’s what you need to know:

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Master the widget

One of the most useful organizational features in iOS 14 is the addition of widgets. Widgets are basically mini versions of your apps that you can place around your home screen. They’re pretty versatile, and a key part to streamlining any iOS device.

A weather widget, for example, will slap a pared-down version of the weather app right on your home screen. It’s basically in-app data a glance.

Widgets can also be combined to consolidate your most-used features. You can stack them by moving one widget over another, allowing you to scroll through both. This alone will save a ton of homescreen real estate.

To add a widget, simply long press on your phone’s homescreen then press the plus that appears at the top left corner. From there you can scroll and select the type of widget that you want.

You can resize widgets, too, opening up a number of layout options.

Alternatively, you can create folders on your home screen by long pressing apps until they’re moveable and then dropping them on top of each other. This isn’t exclusive to iOS 14 but is useful nonetheless. Folders will allow you to sequester similar apps (i.e. travel or food) that can be accessed by tapping the group and then selecting a specific app. Though, admittedly this can be a bit like taking a mess and brushing it under your bed.

Customize

It’s not all about functionality when it comes to de-cluttering your phone. Sometimes aesthetics actually go a long way to making your device feel leaner and more organized. This is where a little customization might come in handy.

A few third-party apps allow you to customize widgets and app icons beyond what’s possible natively in iOS 14. For the highly motivated this means that you can tweak your homescreen even further.

We laid out the steps in this tutorial, but the broad stroke is that you’ll need to download a third-party app like Widgetsmith that creates custom faces for widgets. These can then be swapped for default app icons, giving the appearance of custom apps.

The process of actually creating an aesthetic can be a little time-consuming (or creatively enriching depending on your perspective), but it can go a long way if feeling organized is your ultimate goal.

Plus, just look at how rad some of these custom home screens are.

App library

Another very useful tool for combating iPhone clutter is iOS 14’s App Library, which automatically sends freshly downloaded apps directly into corresponding folders.

App Library automatically groups your apps by category, so if you should need to access something in your library, you don’t have to worry too much about digging through miscellaneous downloads of App Store’s past.

If sending new apps to the App Library isn’t already enabled on your device, go to Settings, Home Screen, and then select “App Library Only” which will make sure you future downloads aren’t piling up in your pages.

You can select which apps you want to send to the App Library individually by tapping and holding the app, then selecting “remove app” and then “remove from Home Screen.” This should automatically send the removed app to your App Library.

Hiding pages

If the App Library isn’t really your style, there are alternatives to sending everything into app purgatory while still technically keeping your new downloads on the page, thanks to the “Edit Page” feature in iOS 14.

Edit Pages allows you to actually hide pages of apps you don’t want to show up on your Home Screen, making it easy to show or stow lots of downloads at will.

To hide pages, all you have to do is long press an empty part of your screen until dots appear at the bottom above your pinned apps. Tap the dots and then check or uncheck the pages that you want to appear or hide and tap done when you’re satisfied.

Just think how good it’ll feel to hide all those forgotten apps you regret downloading.

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That’s it, that’s the guide

Fortunately, organizing your phone isn’t difficult, but as you can tell, it involves just a little know-how and a solid understanding of all the features iOS 14 avails to you. Now, with all of these in mind, go forth and organize.

App icons by Ruxandra Nastase