Widgets have been on Android for years, but even though the iPhone only got them with iOS 14, they have features not on Android. Don’t fill the screen with widgets, use Smart Stack widgets.
Widgets are brilliant for showing useful bits of information, like your next appointment, reminders and to-dos, your activity, batter levels, recent files or photos, and so on. They are probably the most noticeable and wanted feature in iOS. Shame it took 14 versions of iOS to get them.
Although home screen widgets are a fantastic way to see important information at a glance, they have a downside and they are big and they take up the space of many icons.
- Small widget = 4 icons
- Medium widget = 8 icons
- Large widget = 16 icons
Add two medium widgets or just one large one and there is little room for apps on the home screen and many are pushed onto the next screen, which pushes screen two icons onto screen three and so on.
If you need to open an app, it means you have to swipe through several screens hunting for the icon because it is no longer on the home screen and maybe not even on the second screen.
The solution is to stack widgets, which places them one on top of the other. You could have 5, maybe even 10 widgets on the home screen, but they only take up the space of a single widget.
You can tell a Smart Stack widget by the column of dots just to the right of it. Swipe up or down over the widget to switch the view to the next or previous widget in the stack. When you get to the last, it goes back to the first.
How do you stack widgets in iOS?
Apple provides an example of a Smart Stack widget and it is easy to add it to the home screen, but it might not be exactly what you want. You might want a smaller or larger widget, or one that contains a different stack of widgets.
Here is a step-by-step guide to create a Smart Stack widget and how to edit smart stack widgets.
1 Add widgets to the home screen
To add widgets to the home screen on an iPhone with iOS 14 or later, long press on an empty space until the icons start wiggling. Then press the plus button in the top left corner of the screen.
2 View examples of widgets
Some examples of widgets appear in a sort of gallery and they can easily be added if they are exactly what you want. There is even a ready-made Smart Stack widget at the top. However, we want to make our own custom Smart Stack widget. Swipe up, what we need is down below these examples.
3 Use the Smart Stack widget
A list of widgets can be found below the example widgets and at the top of the list is Smart Stack. Select it.
4 Select the widget size
Widgets may come in several sizes and they may display different information. Some have many different options and it depends on the widget. A Smart Stack widget comes in three different sizes, so swipe left or right over the widget to select the one you want. I will be using a small widget.
You can tap the Add Widget button or simply press and drag the widget to the home screen.
5 Drag the widget into place
Press and drag the widget to the place you want it. The other icons shuffle around to make space. It appears in the top left corner by default and this is fine. The vertical column of dots on the right of the widget shows that it is a Smart Stack, the number of dots is the number of items in the stack, and the highlighted dot shows the currently selected widget.
You don’t seem to be able to make an empty stack and there are always a bunch of default widgets in it. The stack may or may not have the widgets you want. Don’t worry, just press the plus button in the top right corner to add your favorite widgets to it.
6 Add another widget
Start over. Tap the plus, swipe to get to the list of widgets below the examples, then tap a widget you want to add to the stack. It can be any widget provided it matches the size of your stack. Let’s add the Calendar widget. Swipe left and right to select the size and then tap Add Widget.
7 Multiple home screen widgets
Now we have two widgets, a Smart Stack that contains default widgets and a widget that we want to stack.
8 Add and stack widgets
Press and then drag on the widget and drop it on the Smart Stack widget to add it to the stack.
After dropping it, repeat. Tap the plus button, select a widget of the same size, add it to the home screen, then drag it to the stack and drop it. Here I add a Reminders widget.
9 Position widgets and you’re done
You now have a Smart Stack widget that contains a stack of default widgets, plus the ones you added to it. Press and drag it into place on the home screen. The other icons shuffle around to make space.
Press the Done button in the top right corner of the screen to finish.
10 Edit Smart Stack widgets
A Smart Stack contains widgets you do not need, so long press on it until a menu appears below. Among the options is Edit Stack, select it. (This is how you remove widgets you no longer want.)
11 Remove unwanted widgets
A list of widgets in the stack is displayed. Swipe left over a widget until a Delete button appears and then tap it or keep on swiping to delete it in one long swipe.
Use the three bars at the right side of each widget to drag them up or down the list. This enables you to set the order of the widgets. Put your most used one first.
Smart Stack widgets solve the biggest problem with home screen widgets and instead of being limited by the amount of screen space, you can have any number of widgets while still leaving space for plenty of icons.