Declutter and Organize Your Homescreen Backgrounds


Computer screen with organizing desktop wallpaper.
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If you frequently update your apps or use your homescreen to keep files handy, your gadgets might be messy and cluttered. Having too much on those screens can make it difficult to find what you are looking for. So take a little time now to declutter and organize your screens. Keep reading for suggestions on how to do it and then treat yourself for doing when you complete the job.


Look at what you have and decide how to sort it

I decided that I basically need three categories----trash, move to storage, or keep on desktop. If you have photos or other items you want to share with friends or on social media, create a folder for them. If you don't have a good storage structure already in place but have a lot of individual files, consider creating folders on your desktop and moving them to your cloud storage when you finish the sort.


Deal with your apps

Apps cause most of the clutter on phones and tablets. Every Messy and even most Tidies have some extra apps. On these devices, it pays to look at all of your apps and ask yourself a few questions:

  • When was the last time you used this app?

  • Marie Kondo it--does it still spark joy? (a.k.a., do you love it and can't give it up?)

  • Does it need to be visible all the time, or does it just get in the way?

On iOS:

  1. Open Settings then go to General > iPhone (or iPad) Storage.

  2. After everything loads, scroll through your list and note when you used each app last. You can offload apps to free up space while retaining related files, or completely delete the app. Completely delete anything you don't plan to use again.

On my Pixel6 Pro, the easiest way to do this is:

  1. Open Settings > Apps > Unused Apps

  2. Apps that haven't been used in three months are shown. Hit the trash can to delete whatever you like.

If your device doesn't show that option, try following these directions from Google Help.

For apps you don't want to delete but don't use often, just remove them from your homescreen. You'll still be able to access them with a couple of extra swipes. (Directions: iOS, Android)


If you have a lot of apps you use often, it might help to create folders. I put all my audio apps together, all my messaging apps together, and all of my social media apps together. To do this on either iOS or Android, long-press the icon you want to move and drag it to an icon you want to group it with. Another idea is to move the apps you rarely use off of your home screen and into an "App Graveyard" folder. You can still access them if you need them but they aren't taking up space on your screen.


On a laptop or desktop

The declutter process is similar but instead of sorting apps, you'll be focusing on files and folders. Drag items to the desktop recycle bin or create a desktop folder "To Delete." Create any other sorting folders you might need. Once you have those set up, start dragging items into them. If you come across something you're not sure about, ask yourself those same three questions:

  • When was the last time I used this file?

  • Does it still serve a purpose?

  • Do I need it visible?

Reorganize your page(s) based on your Messy Style

There are two styles of Messies-- OOSOOMs and HMs. OOSOOMs are Out-of-Sight-Out-of-Mind folks. They need items they are working on in a place they can see them. HMs are Hidden Messies and don't like visible clutter, but they let organization slip in hidden spaces. At home, that means closets and cabinets. In the digital world, that means drives and folders.


If you are an OOSOOM, you'll want to leave your current items on your main page. Making folders can help organize them but still keep them visible, or you can create shortcuts (Windows) or Aliases (Mac). Widgets are another way to attractively access the information you need. On your tablet or phone, keep the daily-use items on the main screen and move other items onto your secondary screen(s).


Organize however it works best for your unique brain. On my phone, my main screen has the folders I described above and widgets for time (one click away from a timer) and calendar.

If you are an HM, you probably didn't have much clutter on your homescreens in the first place. You might want to take time now to organize your more hidden clutter. On the other hand, OOSOOMs have probably done a lot already and should save reorganizing their folder structure for another day.


Celebrate your hard work!

Decluttering for devices works a lot like decluttering your home. You look at what you have and sort into categories--trash, move to storage, or keep. For physical objects at home you'd add categories for "donate," recycle, and shred.


When you have completed purging apps and files, treat yourself to new desktop wallpaper.

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