How To Avoid Widget Hell

iPadOS 17 is out and with it comes yet another way to add widgets to your iPad. There are now two sets of widgets on the lock screen, widgets on the home screen and another set of widgets if you drag right from the home screen! It’s all become a bit of a mess—here’s how to tidy it up.

Lock Screen Widgets

The new lock screens are one of the best features of iPadOS 17, especially the interactive ones that show you the latest satellite weather conditions from your location.

However, they also introduce two new locations for widgets: one when the iPad is held in portrait mode and another when it’s in the landscape orientation. Irritatingly, both sets of widgets have to be specified individually, because of the differing amounts of widget space available in each orientation.

It’s worth saying at this point that you don’t have to use widgets in either orientation. If you want a clean lock screen you can simply remove the widgets.

So how do you get your hands dirty and start sorting out the new lock screen? The easiest way to do it is to simply hold down on the screen when the lock screen appears. A Customize button will appear at the foot of the screen, allowing you to edit the lock screen.

To edit the widgets, click into the widget area beneath the clock in portrait mode, or running down the left of the screen in landscape. You’ll need to rotate the iPad to access each orientation.

The available widgets can have different layouts, depending on which orientation you’re in, so if you don’t like the look of a widget in portrait mode, it might have a more appealing design in landscape.

Note that most widgets have different designs and sizes, which you can scroll through by swiping left and right on the widget’s preview.

Home Screen Widgets

Let’s start with widgets on the main home screen. As before, you can now plonk widgets wherever you like on your home screen or screens, but it’s easy for this to become an awkward jumble of widgets and app icons that looks terrible.

My preference is to have one home screen completely dedicated to widgets, pushing the app icons away to the second home screen that you reach by swiping left.

The challenge here is organizing your widgets so that you’ve got just enough to fill a screen. One way to manage this is by giving more space to widgets that contain a lot of information. For example, the large Mail widget allows you to see previews of your four most recent emails.

Where possible, line up widgets of the same size alongside one another to keep things neat. Note that when you flick from portrait to landscape mode, the widgets are automatically reshuffled.

Today View Widgets

There’s yet another location for widgets in the Today view, which is found by swiping right from the left edge of the home screen. Putting yet more widgets in here seems like overkill, but you can remove any widgets you’ve got stored here by opening the Today view, long pressing in the Today area and removing any unwanted items.

Although you can empty it of widgets, there doesn’t appear to be any way to disable the Today view completely, meaning you’ll always get a blurred overlay when you swipe right off the home screen. Still, with no reason to open that view, you should soon get out of the habit of swiping that way.


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