How to organize and clean up Launchpad on the Apple Mac (2023)

Do you use Launchpad on the Apple Mac? If the answer is No or Rarely, perhaps you just haven’t set it up right. Here's how to organize it and make it quicker to access the apps you need.

At first sight Launchpad might seemto be unnecessary. After all, the Dock at the bottom of the Mac's screen enables you to start your favourite applications. The trouble is, on a small MacBook screen there isn't much space for many apps. With a few simple changes and a bit of organizsation, Launchpadcan be made easier to use and provide faster access toapps not in the Dock.

Launchpad was introduced a long time ago, withOS X Lion in fact, but it is still in macOS today. It it is clearly a feature that has been transferred fromiOS and it is Apple’s attempt to provideeasy access to the apps installed on the Mac in a similar way to the iPhone andiPad. It is intended to be one familiar interface across all platforms.

Microsoft tried this with Windows 8, but was far less successfull. In fact, it was a bit of a disaster and had tobeabandoned. With Launchpad on the Apple Mac though,you are not forced to use the iOS-like interface and it can be completely ignored if you choose to. It does not replace standardmethods of interacting with the computer that we are used to and you can use whichever method suits you best.

If you don’t or rareky use Launchpad, these tips might change your mind. Turbo charge it!

Pinch to launch Launchpad

There are several ways to start Launchpad and there is an icon in the Dock that you can simply click. However, it is not necessary as we will see. Remove it to free up space and reduce clutter in the Dock. Ctrl+click the Launchpad Dock icon and select Options,Remove From Dock because there are better ways to start it.

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A handy alternative methodof startingLaunchpad is topinch on the trackpadwith a thumb and three fingers. To dismissLaunchpad, spread your thumb and three fingers or just tap the Esc key. New MacBooks have big trackpads, so this is easy, but old models had smaller ones and they couldbe a bit awkward if you have big hands.

If you are not comfortable with using the trackpad gesture, there is ahotkey on the keyboard - press F4 to startLaunchpad.

If you don’t have a keyboard shortcut to start Launchpad,if the F4 key is not working, or if you simply want to change it, go to System Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts. Select Launchpad and Dock on the left, tick Show Launchpad, then click on the right and press the keys you want to use. Makesure the key combo is notalready used by something else.

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Tick the checkbox and then click none on the right and press the keys you want to start Launchpad, like Shift+Ctrl+L. I don't use it because pressing F4 on the keyboard is easier, but it is up to you.

Rearrange apps in Launchpad

One of the best ways to organizeLaunchpad and make it more useful is to rearrange the apps. Like iOS,click, hold, then drag an icon to move it to a new position. The other icons scoot around to make space for it. Dragging an iconto the edge of the screen on the right or the left enables you to move it to a new screen, just like on an iPhone or iPad.

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You have many Apple apps in the Dock at the bottom of the screen, so there is no need to have the exact same apps on the first screen of Launchpad, the one displayed by default. Drag all the Launchpad apps that are also in the Dock to screen two or three. Put frequently used apps not in the Dock, in the top left corner of Launchpad.

For example, apps like Calendar, Notes, Reminders, Photos and so on are already in the Dock, so drag them to Launchpad screen2 or 3 and makespace on Launchpad screen1 for apps that are not in the Dock. They are then quickerto access.

So you have the Dock for your most used Apple apps and Launchpad for apps not in the Dock.

Organise Launchpad using folders

It is a good idea to organize apps by creating folders. Onthe one hand this makes them slightly harder to get to and you have to click a folder and then click an app, but on the other hand, you might find it easier to open a folder on screen1 than to hunt across several screensfor an app.

Creating folders is exactly the same as with an iPad or iPhoneand you click and drag one app icon and drop it on another. The folder may benamed automatically, but if it is not what you want, click itand change it.

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Create a folder for all the apps in the Dock by dragging one and dropping one apponanother. Name it Apple Apps or something similar and use it to prevent duplicating Dock and Launchpad icons. If an app is in the Dock, you don't need to access it in Launchpad. It cannot be deleted, because that would delete the app, but it can be moved out of the way and put in a folder.

This reduces Launchpad clutter and apps not in the Dock are easier to find and access.

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If you have a lot of apps, you could go further and create an Office folder for work apps, aGames folder for your games, a Photography folder for photo editing apps, an Internet folder with browsers, instant messaging, online drives, and so on. It is your choice and the folders will depend on what apps you have.

Delete apps in Launchpad

In theory, apps can be deleted from launchpad and the method is the same as withiOS. Click and hold until the apps start wobbling and a cross appears in the corner. Click itto delete it.

Not all apps can be deleted this wayand some do not have the cross icon. Sometimes the reason for this is obvious and system apps for example, cannot be deleted. It is a mystery why other apps cannot be deleted this way. Here, only three of 10 apps can be deleted, as indicated by the cross icons.

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I have not seen it recently, but in the past,Launchpad has shown icons for apps that have been deleted and itbecame out of sync with what is actually in the Applications folder on the disk. Delete the Launchpad icon if the app is no longer installed.

I do not advise deleting apps this way because some apps have special uninstallers and you cannot tell from here. See How to uninstall Mac software properly and remove all traces. If no uninstaller is provided, use AppCleaner. see How do you uninstall apps on the Mac?Here's the right way.

Change the Launchpad layout

I have looked at how to change the number of icons displayed on the Launchpad screen before, so read that article. Briefly, open Terminal and type:

defaults write com.apple.dock springboard-rows -int N

defaults write com.apple.dock springboard-columns -int N

Replace the N at the end to set the number of rows and columns of icons to display, such as 3, 5, 6, whatever. You need to restart the Mac after entering those Terminal commands.

How do youreset Launchpad?

  1. Open Terminal in the Utilities folder
  2. Type: defaults write com.apple.dock ResetLaunchPad -bool TRUE
  3. Type: killall Dock

An alternative method that you should try if that does not work:

  1. Click the Go menu in Finder
  2. Hold down option and click Library
  3. Go to ApplicationSupport > Dock
  4. Delete all files with a .db extension
  5. Restart the Mac
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