Here's What Your Phone's Home Screen Really Says About You


The greatest question of our digital age? It's not "gif" or "jif," it's not the color of #TheDress, it's not whether relying on Google for every answer is making us stupid. Here it is: How do you organize your phone's home screen? 

When you turn on your smartphone, is the first thing you see a mass of red notification bubbles and folders bursting with never-used apps? Or do you opt for serenity instead?

Our little screens are instantly and easily customizable, and how we choose to organize them says more than you might think about who we are. Like our desks and kitchen cabinets, our phone layouts reflect certain parts of our personalities: neat or messy, type A or type B, aesthete or utilitarian. The options are almost limitless: color coordination, random assortments, "home screen zero" or complete minimalism.

We asked nine people to share how they set up their phone. Which one is closest to yours?

1. You've got 99 folders, but you never check them

"I put things in folders because I have a lot of apps. When they're not in folders, I have, like, seven to eight pages of apps and I can never remember what page Grindr is on when I need it. However, I leave apps like Message, Calendar and Clock because I use those a lot a lot and it would take forever to get to them if they were in folders." — Tri, 22

What this says about you: You group the same kinds of clothing together in your suitcase in little sections.

2. Your phone is your oasis

"My wallpaper was taken from my vacation on Cape Cod to remind me of how relaxed I was once upon a time. As much as I love apps, I hate spending more than a few seconds trying to find and open it. On my home screen I have only the ones I use most frequently so when I unlock I can get right into it without having to search. If I want to use any of the apps on the second screen I just swipe down and search instead of going through all the folders." — Amber, 25

What this says about you: You use the "Ocean Surf" setting on your noise machine religiously. 

3. You zero out every single notification, no matter what

"My email inbox and social apps are generally zeroed out by the end of the night. I even go into Snapchat and click through all of the snaps just so get rid of the standing notifications." — Alexandra, 26

What this says about you: You double- and triple-check that all the lights and oven burners are off before you leave the house. And then you still worry about it.

4. You color-code for organization

"I find the color-coded apps easier to look at, and often you can't see the full name of the app on the home screen, so people often navigate by icon anyway. The color is the most scannable way to identify an app — especially since the current fashion is trending towards brighter, simpler icons. I also enjoyed coming up with the emoji labels. Some are themed (sports, train schedules) and some are simply colors (green, orange). I also don't have any apps that are not immediately visible; i.e., each folder has a ceiling of nine apps. So a 10th orange app will have to earn a spot on the home screen or result in deleting an orange app I don't use that often." — David, 39

What this says about you: You organize your T-shirt drawer by color. Nothing else makes sense.

5. You color-code for aesthetics

"The color coordinating is kind of random. I like to have the overview and quick access to everything without having to swipe. I used to have it by function but got bored and did it by color instead and just really liked it that way. It's nice having the screen I look at so much during my day look nice and structured!" — Lisa, 30

What this says about you: You specifically buy all of your kitchen appliances in the same bright shade, down to the salt and pepper shakers.

6. Your phone is an uncluttered, carefully curated thing of beauty

"I don't like having clutter. I don't like having a lot of notifications or stuff randomly laying around — I organize it based on how much I use each app/how important it is with the most important ones on the first page and so on." — Matt, 26

What this says about you: Your nightstand consists of a lamp, a glass of water and a clock. And nothing else. Ever.

7. You do what you want, even if that means never checking your email

"I use all of these [apps] every day. I put 'em over a Persian rug so they'd be comfortable." And the 54,000 emails? "This is the way I live my life. Marking emails you don't care about as 'read' isn't worth the time. Just open and read and respond to the ones you need to." — Marcus, 24

What this says about you: "The Motto" by Drake is your theme song. 

8. You set up your phone for easy access

"My first home screen is just apps that I use all the time. At some point of the day I definitely use one of these 12 apps, they're my go-tos. That's why it's very empty, because I don't want to be distracted by anything else. I want quick access. It's done for efficiency." — Liran, 27

What this says about you: You only ever carry your phone, wallet and keys. 

9. Who needs apps? It's all about your background

"My phone screen is pretty minimal, not only to show off my pretty Ponyo background but also because too many apps on the screen drives me nuts. I like having a lot of space available for swiping between screens as well, so there's no accidental app opening when I really want to swipe.

"When you live your life on iDevices (my iPad is similarly set up), you end up thinking a lot about making it work best for you. It's like how before we had all this digital stuff you had to organize your nightstand or book bag to get to your radio, Discman, book of the moment, and journal as easily as possible." — Adrienne, 30

What this says about you: You had a poster of the periodic table of elements in your dorm room.