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Apple TV 4: Using Folders

Apple TV 4 Using Folders

published by Chand Bellur
August 31, 2016 at 2:35 p.m. PST

The tvOS 9.2 upgrade brings folders to Apple TV 4’s Home screen. This article covers how to use folders on Apple TV 4.

The tvOS App Store already offers thousands of apps. This is a good thing, but installing too many apps can clutter the Home screen. Fortunately, Apple introduced folders to tvOS with version 9.2. The feature works much like folders in iOS. The main difference is that, without a touch screen, Apple TV 4 offers an alternative way to add apps to a folder. Let’s take a look at using folders with Apple TV 4.

Why Use Folders?

Folders help reduce clutter on the Home screen. Instead of searching through a huge grid of app icons, users can organize apps into categories such as news, music, games, entertainment or any other category. Folders do add a little extra work, however. Instead of just launching an app directly from the home screen, users must open the folder, select the app and launch it. This can be a bit tedious.

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I personally don’t use folders. I launch apps using Siri and find that folders take more time and effort. As my Home screen becomes more cluttered, I may add an “archive” folder for apps that I don’t use. This will make it easier to delete apps if I need to free up room on my Apple TV 4.

If folders prove to be a chore, there are better ways to organize your home screen. I suggest moving the apps you use most often to the top of the screen, but not in the top row. Put apps you don’t use at all in an “archive” folder. This will keep them out of the way and make it easier to delete them.

Folders do appeal to many users. If you don’t mind a little more effort and like to keep things neat, read on. We’ll take a look at how to use folders and how to easily add apps to existing folders.

Upgrade tvOS

tvOS needs to be upgraded to version 9.2 (or later) in order to use folders. You can check which version of tvOS is installed by going to Settings > General > About. You can also just install the latest version of tvOS. Go to Settings > System > Software Updates and click on Update Software. Apple TV will guide you through the tvOS update process, if your device isn’t already up-to-date.

Most people will already have the latest version of tvOS installed. By default, tvOS is configured to update system software automatically. I recommend turning this off. It’s always best to be aware of what you’re installing. Sometimes Apple releases flawed updates. The Apple TV 6.0 update (for 2nd and 3rd generation models) “bricked” several Apple TVs. Users had to do complete restores of their system by plugging it into a computer with iTunes. tvOS updates could have regressive bugs or even new defects. It’s always best manually update operating systems. Apple TV will inform you when there’s a new version available. You should go online and research the update to make sure it doesn’t have any nasty surprises. I also recommend waiting a few days after the update is released. Let the eager Apple fanboys test it for you.

You can turn off automatic updates by going to Settings > System > Software Updates. Next, turn off Automatically Update.

Create Folders on Apple TV 4

Creating folders on Apple TV 4 is a simple task. First, make sure you’re on the Home screen. Press the Home button (looks like a TV) on the Siri Remote to quickly access the Home screen. Next, select an app on the home screen that you would like to add to a folder. Click and hold on the Touch surface until the app’s icon starts to wiggle. Press the Play/Pause button on the Siri Remote. A menu will appear. Click on New Folder. You will see a new folder expand with the app icon inside. The folder’s name appears at the top.

tvOS gives the folder a default name based on the app category. You can change the name by swiping up on the Touch surface. The on-screen keyboard appears. Use the keyboard to append to the existing folder name. If you wish to delete the entire folder name, click and hold on the virtual keyboard’s delete key. You can use Siri dictation to enter the folder’s name. Simply press and hold the Siri button on the remote and speak the name. You can dictate words or individual letters.

There’s a small flaw with the folders implementation. tvOS will often create duplicate folder names. For example, if you create a folder from a news app, tvOS will name it news. If you create another folder from a news app, tvOS will give it the same name. This may create some confusion when adding apps to folders. Simply rename the folder to avoid confusion.

Once you have created a folder, accessing it is simple. Just select and click on the folder. It will expand and you can use the Touch surface to select any app icon in the folder. Exit the folder by pressing the Menu button on the remote.

Add an App to a Folder

There are two ways to add apps to folders — the easy way and the hard way. The best way to add an app to a folder is to use the menu-driven process. Select and app you’d like to add to an existing folder. Click and hold the Touch surface until the app starts to wiggle. Next, press the Play/Pause button. A menu with options appears. Select “Move to [folder name]” to add the app to the folder.

The alternative method of adding an app to a folder is a bit more challenging. It’s similar to adding an app to a folder on iOS. It’s not difficult using an iPhone or iPad’s touch screen. It’s a little more challenging with the Siri Remote’s Touch surface. First, click and hold on an app until it starts to wiggle. Use the Touch surface to move the app on top of a folder. The folder will expand. Position the app in the desired location inside the folder and click the Touch surface. Your app is now added to the folder. You’ll notice that this process rearranges the apps on your home screen. It can sometimes be a little difficult to get the app inside the folder. For these reasons, I prefer to do it the easy way.

Remove App from Folder

Unlike adding an app to a folder, there’s only one way to remove an app from a folder. Click and hold on the app icon until it starts to wiggle. Press the Play/Pause button on the remote. A menu of options will appear. Click on Move to Home Screen. You can also move it to another folder using the corresponding menu option. Dragging the icon out of the folder (as with iOS) doesn’t work.

Arrange Folders on Home Screen

Folders can be placed almost anywhere on the Home Screen, even the top row. Of course, it’s best to keep certain apps on the top row, as they control the top marquee. If you put a folder on the top row and select it, you only get a plain Apple TV logo on the marquee. Apple’s apps, and a few third-party apps, can make better use of the top row’s marquee behavior. For example, if you add Netflix to the top row, it will display recommendations on the marquee when the app is selected.

Moving folders is easy. It works just like moving apps. Simply click and hold on a folder until it starts wiggling. Use the Touch surface to move the app to its desired location. Of course, this will rearrange all of your other apps.

You can’t move a folder onto another folder. tvOS does not support nested or sub folders. Attempting this will simply move the folder.

Arrange Apps in Folder

Apps inside a folder can be arranged, just like on the Home screen. The process is similar. First, click on the folder to open it. Next, click and hold on an app icon until it starts wiggling. Move the app to the desired location and then click the Touch surface. The app will stop wiggling and remain in place.

Rename Folder

We already covered renaming a new folder. It’s also possible to rename an existing folder. First, click on the folder. The contents of the folder are displayed. Next, swipe up on the Touch surface until you see the on-screen keyboard. Use the virtual keyboard to edit the name. You can also use Siri dictation to edit the folder name. Press the Menu button or swipe down on the Touch surface when you’re done editing the folder name.

Move Folder

You can move a folder just as you would move any app. Click and hold on the folder until it starts to wiggle. Use the Touch surface to move the folder to the desired location. Click the Touch surface when the folder is in the desired position.

No Siri Commands to Open Folder

There are no Siri commands to open a folder. I tried “open [folder name] folder”, “open [folder]” and also just the folder name. Hopefully this functionality will come to tvOS soon.

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Why I Don’t Use Folders

I don’t use folders because they create more user interface work. First, the user must open the folder. Then one must navigate to the appropriate app icon within the folder. It’s much easier to just launch an app from the Home screen. I recommend arranging the Home screen with frequently used apps at the top of the screen.

I may use folders to place seldom used apps in an archive folder. This would free the Home screen of extraneous apps. The reality is that I only use about 5 tvOS apps. I launch them using Siri. Even if you use several apps, it’s just easier to launch them with Siri. This can be done from the screen saver or even within another app. Simply press and hold the Siri button and say the app name or “launch [app name]”. The latter syntax seems to have broader support. For example, Asphalt 8 won’t launch if I just say the name. I have to declare “launch Asphalt 8”. Netflix will launch just by saying “Netflix”.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for folders, a lot of users prefer an organized Home screen. If you have a lot of apps and Siri doesn’t work well for you, folders may prove beneficial.

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