iTunes 9 Focus: Tips for editing your iPhone apps screens

While of my colleagues are tremendously excited about Norah Jones and iTunes LP, I've got to say I was far happier to discover the new iTunes 9 iPhone application management screens that Brett touched on yesterday (Sorry, Dave!). Located in the Applications tab for each iPhone and iPod touch device, the manager lets you organize your applications on a screen-by-screen basis from the comfort of your desktop. Unfortunately, the organizer remains fairly primitive.You can...

  • ...check or uncheck apps that you want to sync or not sync.

  • ...drag apps around individual pages to reorder them

  • ...drag apps between screens to reparent them.

  • ...change page order by dragging them within the page column.

And that's pretty much it. There's no way to sort your screens alphabetically or by category. There's no way to copy or share layouts between devices. There's no undo support if you change your mind about any changes. That having been said, there are some iTunes 9 tricks that may help you better organize your applications. Here are TUAW's top four.

Use Command-Click to group apps. Command-clicking an application icon adds it to (or if already added, removes it from) the currently selected group. You can move groups all at once between pages.

Use empty pages. If you have the pages to spare, use the empty pages that iTunes makes available to you to help organize applications by "theme". For example, you can drag an empty page into, say, the page 2 position and then start filling that page with games from the other pages. Adding apps to that empty page causes another empty page to appear at the end of the list if there is room. You're limited to eight 11 pages total for your applications.

Use the dock. Your dock provides a home for up to four applications that you use the most. Docked applications appear on every page, offering the quickest access to your most-used apps. Don't feel limited to the apps that the iPhone OS defaults to. It's your dock. Use it the way that best suits you.

Use the home screen. If you have more than four apps that you need quick access to, don't forget that the first screen of apps is always just a Home button click away. Tapping the home button when viewing apps automatically jumps you to the first page. Place your high priority apps on this first page if they fall short of the urgency of the dock items.

The new Application editor is certainly a great step forward from the way things were. Here's hoping that Apple will make it even easier to manage your applications in future iTunes releases.