Before iOS 14, one of the central issues with iOS (compared to Android) was that every single app you’ve ever downloaded must exist somewhere on your home screen. You can have folders, you can have multiple home screens, but you can’t just hide an app you don’t use often.
The release of iOS 14 changed all that. Besides being able to put Widgets on your home screen, you could uninstall apps without uninstalling them! A new top-level screen called the App Library lists all the apps installed on your iPhone. It’s a bit like the app drawer on most Android phones, but it looks and behaves differently.
Controlling the app library is the key to a tidy and organized iPhone and to quickly find the app you want. This is how the app library works.
App Library organization
As long as your iPhone is upgraded to iOS 14 or later, you’ll find the app library to the right of your last home screen. Just keep swiping and you’ll be there in no time.
You do not need to organize this screen. In fact, you can not organize it. All your apps appear in little four square boxes.
The top left box is always suggestions. This shows four apps that Siri has determined you’re likely to use based on the time of day, your location, etc. It gets smarter the more you use your iPhone, and the suggestions are calculated entirely on the device No data on your app usage habits or location or anything else are ever sent anywhere.
At the top right you will find Recently added, that speaks for itself. It shows apps you installed most recently.
Below that are four square “folders” that are automatically organized by app category. Apple automatically determines which category an app belongs to, which can be a bit unintuitive. For example, both Twitter and Reddit are in the App Store’s “News” category (currently #1 and #2, respectively). But Twitter is in the Social box of the App Library and Reddit is in the Reference & Reading section. Ring is in Utilities, but Nest is in Lifestyle.
Each of these boxes shows three full-sized app icons, along with a small group of four icons in the bottom right. Apple doesn’t make it clear, but tapping a full-size app icon launches the app. Tapping the small group of four icons opens a view of all the apps in that category.
The category boxes themselves are not always in the same place. They rearrange themselves based on the apps you use most often.
Search the app library
If you don’t want to open and close the app category boxes looking for the app you need, search is the way to go.
Tap the search box at the top of the screen or swipe down anywhere on the screen and you can search by name or browse an alphabetical list of all the apps on your iPhone.
Add apps to the home screen
If there’s an app in the app library that isn’t on your home screen, you can easily add it. Just press and hold on an app icon until you see the context menu and choose “Add to Home Screen.”
If there’s already an app on your home screen, you won’t see that option.
Adding an app to your home screen doesn’t remove it from the app library, but it does always contains all the apps on your iPhone.
You can also enter “shake mode” and drag apps from the left edge of the app library to place them on your home screen.
Remove individual apps from the home screen
If you want an app to exist in the app library, but it does not want an icon on your home screen, it’s easy to do.
Tap and hold the app until the context menu appears. To elect Delete app and you will see a popup with three options: Cancel, Remove from home screenor remove.
remove will uninstall the app completely, but Remove from home screen will just take away the icon – it will still exist in the app library where it always was.
Remove apps pages from the home screen
You can remove it completely Pages of apps (and widgets) also from the home screen.
Tap and hold on an empty spot on your home screen to enter “shake mode”, then tap the little page indicator at the bottom of the screen.
This opens an Edit Pages screen where you can select or deselect entire home screen pages. If you disable one, it will no longer appear on your home screen, but all those apps will always be in your app library.
Plus, your iPhone saves those layouts so you can easily turn them back on later.
Download apps to the app library
Once you get used to a minimalist home screen with just a few widgets and app icons, it’s hard to go back to all that clutter. When you download a new app from the App Store, it will still appear on your home screen, but you can change that behavior.
If you want new app downloads to skip the home screen and appear only in your app library, open Settingstap on Home screen, then select whether you want to show new app downloads in both the app library and the home screen, or just the app library. You can also choose to display notification badges (the red dots in the corner with numbers) on app library icons.
Remember, all your apps are always in the app library. There is no way to make an app appear on the home screen, but not the app library.