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Streamline Your Smartphone Apps by Organizing Them into Folders

We can’t get enough apps for our mobile devices. Apple’s App Store alone hit 25 billion downloads earlier this year. But trying to locate one of the many apps on our phone can become unwieldy, scrolling through screen after screen. Instead, group similar apps into folders.

I recently upgraded to an iPhone 5 and took the opportunity to weed a bunch of apps and reorganize my folders. Over the years I’ve come up with a few simple guidelines for creating folders – keep folder names short, make them ALL-CAPS, and arrange them alphabetically on the home screen.

The App Store categorizes each app but use those categories as guidelines rather than adopting them wholesale. For instance, trying to quickly differentiate between a “photography” and “productivity” folder when wanting to use the camera can cause you to lose the opportunity to capture a shot. Locating a “photos” or “pics” folder is much easier. Trust me, I’ve tried both.

To create a folder, press down on the app until it wiggles, then move it into a related app and a folder will be automatically created. You can then edit the folder name. Here’s how I’ve organized the folders on my home screen. I’m still tinkering with it and slowly adding (and deleting) apps.

FUN & GAMES – Sometimes it really is all fun and games. These are two separate folders. FUN contains apps that would fall under Entertainment in the App Store. Some of the apps I put in the FUN folder include the native iPhone apps – Videos, iTunes, Music and Podcasts, Flixster for finding movie theaters and reviews, Westoros Map to reference during my reading of the Game of Thrones and the other four books in the series, and MLB.com At Bat to follow my Yankees. GAMES include Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and Solitaire.

HEALTH – FITNESS is another good name for this folder. This folder includes the Lose It and Mindfulness apps.

NEWS – Among the apps I have in NEWS are the NY Times, Flipboard, Pulse, Pocket, Prismatic, and a few political news sites.

NINJA – Not too many options out there for shortening Productivity so I called this folder Ninja and it stuck. Included in this folder, are the Evernote, Dropbox and Rocket Matter apps. I’ve tried a bunch of To-Do List apps but removed them all since I use my calendar, a moleskin notebook, Rocket Matter and Evernote for my To-Do’s.

PHOTOS – Short for Photography. CAMERA or PICS work here also. Apps in this folder include the native Camera and Photos apps, CropForFree, and Pic Stich.

SITES – These are bookmarked websites that I frequent, including blogs and sites without a native app.

SOCIAL – Social networking apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Buffer and LinkedIn. Google Plus is conspicuously absent.

TOOLS – Many of the apps that are housed here fall under the UTILITIES category in the App Store. They include the native Compass, Calendar, Clock, Voice Memos, and the horror that is the Maps app. Other apps that I have in this folder include Analytics, WordPress, GoToMeeting, Skype and Kindle.

TRAVEL – JetBlue and TripIt are among the apps I store in the folder.

Additional apps that I’m testing or on the fence about keeping, are littered throughout the other screens.

What about you? I’d love to hear your suggestions for organizing folders and apps.

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