iOS 14 App Library: How to use it on your iPhone

The App Library is an all-new way in iOS 14 to store your apps without needing them to appear on the Home Screen. Here's how to use the App Library to better organize your iPhone.

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Image: CNET

Apple hasn't changed the Home Screen on iOS since the introduction of the original iPhone--it has remained relatively the same throughout 13 major releases. With iOS 14, however, Apple is fundamentally changing how the Home Screen works by allowing you to select which apps you want visible, and which you want to hide away in a feature called the App Library.

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On iOS 14, you'll notice a new page on your Home Screen: If you swipe all the way to the last dot on the Home Screen, you'll enter the App Library. In this view, apps are sorted by the category in which they appear in the App Store. The most-used apps will take up a larger icon space, while lesser-used apps will appear in a smaller 4x4 grid in the category, or not at all (Figure A).

Figure A

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The App Library displays itself on the last page of the Home Screen and features folders of apps organized by category with a search bar at the top.

Apps that have the larger icon sizes are directly tappable because they are the most frequently used apps in that category. You can, however, see all apps by tapping on the smaller 4x4 grid in the main category folder if visible. If there are no smaller icons visible, then it means that there are no further apps in that category.

A search bar at the top of the App Library gives you quick access to search all of the installed apps. While iOS Search may still be quicker for finding and launching an app (as opposed to needing to scroll all the way to the right-most Home Screen page to search for apps), the App Library search does only surface applications while the iOS Search may list documents or other results first instead of the apps.

Where are my downloaded apps going?

In iOS 14, newly downloaded apps from the App Store will no longer appear on the Home Screen instead (in iOS 13 and before, newly installed apps would appear on the last Home Screen page). In iOS 14 and above, downloaded apps automatically go into the App Library instead.

You can change this setting in the Settings app by doing the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Home Screen.
  3. Select Add To Home Screen or App Library Only for the section labeled Newly Downloaded Apps (Figure B).

Figure B

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Newly downloaded apps from the App Store will use whatever preference is selected.

If you select App Library Only, newly downloaded apps will go straight to the App Library and skip the Home Screen, but selecting Add To Home Screen will perform the older action of placing it in the last open Home Screen page when downloaded.

How to turn off notification badges in the App Library

If you have apps in the App Library, chances are, you don't want to see the notification badges on the app icons. You can easily disable these by navigating to:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to Home Screen.
  3. Under the section labeled Notification Badges, disable the option for Show An App Library.

With this setting disabled, the notification badges on any app icon in the App Library will be hidden.

How to add apps back to the Home Screen

If at any time you decide that an app needs to be on the Home Screen itself and not in the App Library, you can move the app from the App Library and onto the Home Screen by tapping and holding on the icon to enter what Apple is dubbing "Jiggle Mode" and then drag the app icon from the App Library and onto the Home Screen. As soon as you begin dragging the icon from the App Library, the Home Screen will be visible for dropping the icon onto. You can optionally tap and hold on the app icon and tap the option for Add To Home Screen (Figure C).

Figure C 

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Adding an app back to the Home Screen is as easy as dragging it from the App Library onto the Home Screen, or long pressing and selecting Add to Home Screen.

If you want to add an app from the Home Screen into the App Library, simply enter "Jiggle Mode" by tapping and holding on the app icon, then drag and drop the app icon onto the App Library Home Screen page (anywhere on the page is fine, the App Library will automatically add it to the appropriate category folder).

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...