Home Screen Breakdown
Not much has changed on the surface from last year. That being said, as you may be able to tell from these apps not having names, none of the apps (except the three in my dock) are actual apps. They are Siri Shortcuts, and many of them have other actions attached to them in addition to opening the specified apps. I also have some secret shortcuts that blend in with the wallpaper at the bottom. Here is a screenshot of my current home screen:
This article will mostly focus on the actual apps on my home screen and what I use them for. If you’re interested in the some of the particulars about why I lay it out this way please check out this article.
Let’s start with the most important part: my most used apps. My dock hasn’t changed very much from last year. On my dock you’ll find the following three apps:
- Spark is the best email app I’ve found that also has a MacOS app. I go into just why it’s important to have an amazing email client here.
- Self-explanatory. I need easy access to my text messages.
- Launch Center Pro
- LCP just released version 3.0 and it’s great. Everything looks better and runs smoother. There are a lot of cool functions like the use of NFC stickers to trigger actions. I also keep a lot of my simpler actions here like “text this specific contact” or “play this specific playlist.” In addition I have several Siri Shortcuts saved in LCP because Shortcuts UI is still pretty terrible as far as scrolling through all of your shortcuts and finding the one you want.
I only have four folders, but they hold every app that isn’t on my home screen. All folders only have three apps on their front page, this is a purely aesthetic choice. Just like I don’t like my actual home screen filled with apps, I don’t want the front page of my folders filled with them either. All of the folders also have a purpose. Starting from the left and going to the right:
- The first folder is sort of a catch-all folder. This folder doesn’t have a theme like my other three do. When sorting apps, first priority goes to any other folder, but if it doesn’t fit into one of those the app will be put into this first folder. The three apps on the front page of this folder are “Messenger”, “App Store”, and “Facebook Page”.
- The second folder is my “Health” folder. It holds apps like “Watch”, “Pillow” (my sleep tracker app), and “Activity”. Any app that pertains to staying healthy goes into this folder. I also keep Fantastical in this folder. I know it looks like Fantastical is in the second row, but that's not actually the app. I'll get into that later.
- The third folder is my “Finance” Folder. The three apps on the front page are “Venmo”, “1Password” (which I know isn’t finance, but I feel like it fits in this folder), and “PayPal”. I keep 2do in this folder also.
- The final folder is my “Games” Folder. The three apps on the front page are “Hearthstone”, “Sudoku ME”, and “Stardew Valley.” I also keep OmniFocus in this folder.
One thing worth noting, as I mentioned in my “Cleaning Up Your Home Screen” article, is that I almost never actually open the folders. I do keep my most used apps in the folder on the front page, because sometimes that’s quicker than spotlight search, but more often than not, if it’s in a folder, I will just use spotlight search instead of opening the folder.
Apps on the Home Screen
These are all Siri Shortcuts. Some of them just open the app and the reason I used Shortcuts for that is so that I could get rid of the app names. Others have actions built in that I want to run whenever I open an app. The top row of Shortcuts) mostly just open up the app (with the exception of OmniFocus). This is sort of my Getting Things Done row. Any app that I use on a daily basis to make my phone or my life run smoothly goes here. All of the things in this row are explained in the article “To-Do List, Calendars, and Planners: When To Use Them”.
- Settings - mostly used for wifi and bluetooth things. Making sure my device is connected to the things it should be connected to. This is a Siri Shortcut that just opens Settings. I tried to get it to open specific pages but the callback URLs that used to do that no longer work.
- Fantastical - I’ve spoken about Fantastical in a few posts already so I won’t go into it again. The real Fantastical app lives in the folder directly above the Shortcut. Fantastical is one of 3 apps that I allow to give me a badge notification so I keep the app in the folder above, that way I can still see when I have events easily while having the shortcut on my home screen.
- 2Do - This is the app where I add things that need to get done but aren’t incredibly important. If you’re interested in reading more about that, take a look at the article I linked to above. As with Fantastical, 2Do is in the folder directly above the Shortcut.
- OmniFocus - This is where all of my important (typically job-related) tasks go. This particular Shortcut opens up a custom perspective that I created that only shows me tasks that are currently available. Again, I’m not going to go too far into this since I’ve already written about it in the article I linked to above. As with the other apps in this row the actual app is the folder directly above the Shortcut.
Second row of apps. This is where the style of organization changes. This row and the next are organized by color instead of what the app does. This is my row of blue apps:
- Apollo - My reddit client. Infinitely better than than the official reddit app, and miles ahead of any other reddit app I’ve tried. The dark mode is to die for. This shortcut looks at the day of the week and if it’s not the weekend it asks me if the time can be better spent reading instead of looking at Reddit. If I say yes it opens iBooks, otherwise it opens Reddit to r/All.
- PCalc - My replacement for the stock calculator app. This shortcut just opens the app.
- This is my web search Shortcut. It asks if I’d prefer to use Safari, Google, Citimapper, or Apple Maps and then opens the app I choose.
- Facebook - This Shortcut does the same thing as Apollo.
Final row of apps. This is where my apps with warmer colors go. Except for Notes the Shortcuts in this row all just open the apps.
- Overcast - My podcast app of choice. Again, love the black mode. It’s also infinitely better than the Apple Podcast app. The Shortcut just opens Overcast.
- iBooks - This shortcut also just opens the app.
- Notes - I use Notes as an idea or information catcher. If I’m out and about and there is some sort of (non-urgent) information that I need to keep track of (new contact, book I want to read, etc.) I’ll throw it into notes because it’s easier than finding the correct app in the moment. At the end of the day I go through my notes app and move things to more permanent places based on the type of information that’s saved in the notes. This shortcut opens a new note.
- Snapchat - Self-explanatory, I like to snapchat my friends.
I like a clean home screen so I keep the bottom two rows “empty”, but there are actually four Shortcuts that I commonly use who’s icons make them look like part of my wallpaper.
- The first Shortcut opens up the “All Photos” album in Photos.
- The next one is blank because it’s not the easiest to reach.
- After that is a Shortcut that tracks my mood. My yearly theme this year is the Year of Joy and I am tracking my mood daily using this Shortcut.
- I also have a shortcut that turns the brightness down all of the way and then opens iBooks. I use this when I read before bed.
- The bottom left Shortcut adds a new task to OmniFocus. It’s a fairly in depth Shortcut that if you’re interested in you can take a look at here. It’s pretty specific to me, especially the part for my graduate school work, but it could definitely be altered and used by anybody.
- The next two are blank icons, and the final icon spot is actually empty. I use this spot to put apps that I’m trying out and don’t want to commit to putting somewhere else on my phone.
Order of the Rows
Top Row: On the iPhone XS Max the top is very hard to reach, and since I rarely actually use my folders I have them in the top row.
First row of apps: Most of my tasks and events are repeating, so while I rely heavily on this row, I don’t actually open the apps very much unless I’m checking information that Past Me put into the app or checking off a task I’ve completed. So again, a bit farther up in the hard-to-reach section.
Last two rows: Organized by color, I have the cooler tones higher than the warmer tones because it blends better with the wallpaper.