I’ve received this question a number of times over the last few weeks. Users have either upgraded Android to Lollipop or they’ve upgraded their devices to smartphones or tablets powered by Android 5.x. When that happens, they find it no longer possible to make use of folders in the Android app drawer. How do you get around this?

This is easy with third-party software.

You can always opt to install a new home screen launcher like Nova Launcher. If, however, you don’t want to switch from the default home screen launcher, you can (sort of) get this behavior with the help of a smarter app drawer called App Swap. With this handy app, you can work with an app drawer that allows you to hide apps, search for apps, tag apps, and more. The tagging of apps makes for a pseudo drawer effect on your app drawer.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do.

Install App Swap

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for App Swap
  3. Locate and tap the App Swap entry by net.ebt
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read the permissions listing
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
  7. Allow the installation to complete

You should now find a launcher for App Swap on your home screen. Tap that to launch the app. At this point, you should set the default gesture for opening the app. Tap the overflow menu (three horizontal bars in the upper left corner of App Swap, as shown in Figure A), and then tap Settings.

Figure A

App Swap running on a Verizon-branded LG G3.

From within the Settings window, tap Edge Launch, and then select which edge will serve as the location for the upward swiping motion to launch App Swap (Figure B).

Figure B

Setting the edge swipe location.

Once you’ve taken care of that, go back to the main App Swap window, tap the overflow menu again, and select the tag you want to view (Figure C). Note: When you install App Swap, it will automatically generate tags for your installed apps. Tap the tag, and only those apps with that specific tag will appear.

Figure C

The listing of tags for you to choose from.

If the default tags aren’t enough, you can create your own tags and associate apps with those new tags. Here’s how:

  1. Open App Swap
  2. Tap the overflow menu
  3. Tap Tagg apps
  4. Give the new tag a name
  5. Tap Done (on the keyboard)
  6. Tap OK
  7. Tap to select all the apps to associate with the tag
  8. When done, tap the checkmark to add the apps (Figure D)

Figure D

Adding apps to a new tag.

That’s it. You now have easy “folders” for your Lollipop app drawer.

If this method doesn’t do it for you, I highly recommend adding Nova Launcher (you’ll get true folders in the app drawer).

Do you think removing the ability to add folders in Lollipop’s app drawer was a mistake on Google’s part? Why or why not?