Your Android phone is just as useful as you make it. Organize the tiles on your phone's screens so you can stop hunting for your favorite apps and find them just a tap or two away.

Organize your apps

The quickest way to bring order to your phone's screens is to alphabetize the apps or gather them by purpose: all messaging and email apps on one screen, sports apps on the next screen.

It's easy to rearrange apps. Tap and hold an app icon (called a long press) and then drag it to a new location. As you move one app, others move out of the way, so you may need to do some reshuffling to get everything where you want. To move an app to another screen, drag the app to the edge of the phone, and the next screen will appear.


Gather apps into folders

Putting like-minded apps on their own screens is fine, but if you have a lots of apps, you'll spend a lot of time swiping between screens to get to the app you're looking for. Make efficient use of screen space by grouping apps in folders. To create a folder, long-press one app and drag it on top of another. When you release, both apps are now in a folder, which you can name. Drag more apps into the folder, and drag the folder around, as you do with apps. To get rid of a folder, drag all the apps out of it.


Organize the favorites tray

Just as you can gather apps into folders, you can stick a few favorite apps in the favorites tray at the bottom of the screen. The tray stays the same on every screen, so this is a good place to put essentials like your favorite messaging app.


Widgets and shortcuts

If you constantly look at your calendar or frequently turn Bluetooth on and off, add a widget or shortcut. A widget displays information, such as today's calendar events or recent Gmail messages. A shortcut takes you right to the app and launches an action, such as taking you to Google Drive. To browse widgets for your device, long-press an empty area of a screen and then tap the Widgets icon.


Add a contact to your home screen

Call someone often, like your spouse or the local beer delivery service? Add a shortcut to their contact information to your home screen. From the Contacts app, find the person, tap More, and tap Add Shortcut to Home Screen. Back on your home screen, tap the shortcut to go to contact info, where you can quickly make a call.



If the problem isn't organization so much as your home screen not doing what you want, check out an Android launcher. Google Now Launcher (see screen shot) offers one-swipe access to your Google Now cards and a handy app-search field, for example, and Nova Launcher provides multiple ways to customize your home screen.


Uninstall apps you've downloaded

If you've shuffled and arranged and are still not satisfied, maybe you just need to get rid of the app.

If you downloaded the app from Google Play, you can remove it from your device. Open the Play Store, tap the navigation menu on the left side of the app bar, and tap My Apps & Games. Locate the app you want to delete and tap it. If you can delete the app, you will see an Uninstall button on the screen.


You can also go to the Settings apps, tap Applications, and then tap Application Manager. Scroll to the app you want to uninstall, open it, and tap Uninstall.

If you change your mind, you can reinstall the app without repurchasing it.

Disable apps preinstalled on your device

Some apps you can't delete. For example, unless you have a Nexus device, you probably can't get rid of apps that your handset maker or carrier preinstalled on your device. You may, however, be able to disable these apps, hiding them from view.

Open Settings, Applications, Application Manager, scroll to the app you want to disable, open it, and Tap Disable.


If you later decide you want to use the app, re-enable it by retracing your steps. Google cautions that disabling a system app may cause other apps to misbehave, so take care.

Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.