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App media library: 5 tips and tricks for the new iOS 14 feature

Jason Cross

In addition to the new widgets, iOS 14 brings another new top feature to the iPhone with the app media library, which will completely change user behavior. We explain everything you need to know about the app library.

EnlargeThe app media library comes to the iPhone with iOS 14.

Before iOS 14, the iPhone operating system had a big problem: every single app you ever downloaded had to exist somewhere on your home screen. You can put the apps in folders and sort them or create multiple start screens. What has not been possible so far is simply to hide apps that are rarely used.

However, this changes with iOS 14. In addition to putting widgets on your home screen, you can now remove applications without uninstalling them! A new, high-level screen called "App Library" contains all of the apps installed on your iPhone. It's a bit like the app drawer on most Android smartphones, but it looks and behaves differently.

The app library is the key to a cleaner and better organized iPhone. We explain how the app library works.

Organization of the app media library

Once you've installed iOS 14, you'll find the app library to the right of your last home screen. Just swipe left until you get to the app library.

The good news: you don't have to organize the new screen with the app library. The bad news: even if you wanted to, you couldn't organize them at all, because the iPhone does it all by itself. All your apps appear in small square boxes.

The top left box is always a suggestion. Here are four applications that Siri believes you are likely to want to use based on the time of day, your location, etc. The longer you use your iPhone with iOS 14, the smarter Siri suggestions will become over time.

In the top right corner you'll find a selection of apps that were recently added: so this folder is where you'll find apps that you recently installed.

The applications are automatically sorted into app categories below the "Suggestions" and "Recently added" folders. Apple automatically determines which category an application belongs to, and this can be a bit confusing. For example, both Twitter and Reddit are in the "News" category of the App Store. In the app library, however, Twitter is in the "Social" field of the app library, and Reddit is in the "Reference & Reading" section. This also applies to other apps: For example, we would not have sorted all travel apps such as those of Deutsche Bahn, Flixbus, Uber or BlaBlaCar under "Lifestyle". The iPhone looks a little different.

Each app folder shows three full-size app icons along with a small four-icon grouping in the lower right corner. Tapping a full size icon will launch the application. However, if you tap on the smaller app icons, a view of all the applications in that category will open up.

The category fields themselves are not always in the same place. They rearrange themselves based on which applications you use most often.

Search the app library

If you don't want to open and close the app category boxes to find the app you want, searching with an app list is for you.

EnlargeYou can reach the app list with a downward swipe

Just tap the search box at the top of the screen or swipe down anywhere on the screen. You can then search for the app names or scroll through an alphabetical list of all the apps on your iPhone.

Add apps to the home screen

If there's an app in the app library that isn't on your home screen, it's easy to add it. Just tap and hold an app icon until you see the context menu. Select "Add to Home Screen".

If there is already an app on your home screen, you won't see this option.

Adding an app to your home screen doesn't remove it from the app library - it always contains all of the apps installed on your iPhone.

You can also switch to "jiggle mode" and drag apps from the left edge of the app library to place them on your home screen.

Remove individual apps from the home screen

If you want an app to be in the app library but don't want an icon on your home screen, that's easy to do.

Tap and hold the app until the context menu opens. Choose Remove App and you'll see a popup with three options:

  1. Delete the app

  2. Move around in the app library.

  3. Abort.

With "Delete" the application is completely removed, with "Move" the icon is simply removed - it is then still available in the app library.

Hide app pages

You can also remove entire pages of apps (and widgets) from the home screen.

Tap and hold on an empty spot on your home screen to enter "wobble mode," then tap the small side indicator near the bottom of the screen.

This brings up an "Edit Pages" screen where you can select or deselect entire Home Screen pages. If you deselect one of them, it will no longer appear on your home screen, but all of these applications will still be in the app library. Plus, your iPhone saves these layouts so you can easily turn them back on later.

Download apps to the app library

Once you get used to a minimalist home screen with just a few widgets and application icons, it's hard to go back to the old mess. When you download a new application from the App Store, it will appear on your home screen as usual.

If you'd like new app downloads to skip the home screen and only appear in the app library, open Settings, tap the home screen, and then choose whether to have new app downloads in both the app library and should appear on the start screen or only in the app library. You can also choose to display notification badges (the red dots in the corner with numbers) on the app library icons.