written by: Daniel Kolobaric•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 10/11/2010
Android folders can be a powerful time-saver, when properly used. Learn more about this hidden gem in Android and how it can be turned into an ultimate tool to de-clutter the home screen, group apps or create a group of shortcuts.
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One of the most recent additions to the iPhone is folder support. As this is a great departure from the original way of organizing apps on the iOS platform, this new feature has been announced with quite a bit of bombast. The truth is that Android has had this function since version 1.5 of the system. As it is a bit of ‘hidden’ feature, not many users know the great potential of them. Here is how using folders can truly enrich the Android experience.
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Types of Folders and Why Use Them?
Folders are mainly used to group similar apps or shortcuts, or access information stored in certain apps, without actually going into them. Folders are useful to de-clutter the home screen or make a lot of information available straight from the home screen. When cleverly used, the latter option can prove a valuable time saver. A simple example would be a folder, named ‘Games’, containing all games available on the phone, or a list of contacts with phone numbers, available right from the home screen. The Android system supports three types of folders, namely custom folders, stock app folders and 3rd party app folders.
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Creating, Modifying and Adding Items to a Folder
There are two methods of creating a new folder on Android. They are:
Long pressing an empty space on the desktop. This will bring up an ‘Add to Home Screen’ box, which includes the folders option. From here on select the ‘Folders’ option, after which a ‘Select Folder’ box will show all folder types and their options. Select any of those for the folder to appear on the desktop.
The second option is not too different from the first. When on the Android home screen, press the menu, and then the ‘Add’ button. The ‘Add to Home Screen’ will appear after which the steps are the same as with the first method.
After a folder is created, and this works with any type of folder, a user can modify the name of the folder. This is easily done by first selecting the header of the folder, where the name is, and long pressing it. The user will now be presented with an option to change the name. Changing the icon of the folder is not possible by default, but alternatives, such as Better Cut, are available in the Android Market, and will be able to do so.
Once a folder is created, the user can already start interacting with it. Adding files to a folder can only be done with the ‘New Folder’ option in the folder menu. This adds an empty folder to the Android home screen, ready to be modified. Adding items to it is as easy as selecting an app or shortcut and dropping it in the folder.
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Example of Cleverly Using the Folder Option
The following sequence is an example of how to get the most out of the folder option. In the example the aim is to create a folder with direct shortcuts to dialing favorite contacts:
First Select the ‘New Folder’ Option.
Rename the Folder to ‘Favorite Contacts’.
Now Create shortcuts to the preferred phone numbers of the favorite contacts. They will appear on the Home Screen.
Drag the icons to the Folder.
Optionally, change the icons of the shortcuts and folder with Better Cut.
This is just one example of how to properly use the folder feature of Android. However, possibilities are almost endless, especially when combined with the shortcuts options. As Android keeps adding functionality for the Android ‘power user’, the folders will increase in usability. With only a little bit of effort, and especially in combination with Android's shortcuts option, the complete phone experience can be greatly enhanced.