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How to Avoid App Overload


Joanna Yuen

Marketing & Content Specialist - 12 Apr, 2024


Almost every person occasionally struggles to juggle. We have to manage so many things on any given day - everything from personal commitments to work tasks to hobbies, family, and self-care. And chances are, we have an app to help with each of those things.

Are too many apps contributing to the stress and burnout that’s become so common? In actuality, the use of too many apps can actually make it harder to manage everything on our plates. Even apps that are designed to streamline our efforts and make things easier leave us with yet another app to manage. Here’s what you need to know about app overload - and how to avoid it.

What is App Overload - and How Could it Hurt?

App overload refers to the situation where a person has too many applications (apps) installed on their device, resulting in a cluttered and overwhelming digital environment. Most apps are designed to be beneficial and enhance some element of productivity, but too many of them being used in conjunction can create the opposite scenario. In fact, there are well-documented issues with having too many apps in use, including:

  • Storage and Performance Issues - Each app takes up storage space on a device, and having too many apps can quickly fill up the available storage. This can result in slower device performance, reduced battery life, and potential crashes or freezes.
  • Difficulty in Finding Apps - With a large number of apps installed, it becomes challenging to locate specific apps when needed. Scrolling through numerous app icons or using search functions can be time-consuming and frustrating.
  • Increased Distractions - Having a multitude of apps can lead to constant notifications and distractions, making it difficult to focus on important tasks. Too many apps can cause a constant influx of information, overwhelming the user and reducing productivity.
  • Security Risks -Installing apps from unknown or untrusted sources increases the risk of malware or viruses. The more apps installed, the higher the likelihood of encountering security vulnerabilities, potentially compromising personal data or device security.
  • App Incompatibility - Some apps may not be compatible with each other or with the device's operating system. This can lead to conflicts, crashes, or instability issues.

To avoid app overload and its associated problems, there are a few things you can do (which we will cover in more detail further on). Some good general best practices are to regularly evaluate and declutter apps by uninstalling unnecessary or unused ones. Additionally, you’ll want to prioritize essential apps and organize them into folders or categories, which can also help streamline app management. Finally, being selective when installing new apps and considering their usefulness and potential impact on device performance can help prevent app overload.

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Is App Overload a Problem on Desktops?

When you hear “apps” you might immediately think of your phone or tablet. However, when it comes to the desktop on a computer, having too many app icons or shortcuts can make it cluttered and difficult to find what you need. While there is no hard limit to the number of apps you can have on your desktop, having an excessive number of icons can lead to a few potential problems on your computer.

  • Visual Overload - A cluttered desktop with numerous app icons can be visually overwhelming and make it challenging to locate specific apps quickly. It can also make it harder to see your desktop wallpaper or other important elements.
  • Difficulty in Organization - With a large number of app icons, it becomes harder to keep them organized. Finding the app you need may involve scrolling through multiple pages or searching through a disorganized array of icons.
  • Reduced Performance - The more icons you have on your desktop, the more system resources they may consume. This can potentially slow down your computer's performance, especially if some of those icons are linked to resource-intensive applications.
  • Accidental Deletion or Displacement - With a cluttered desktop, there is a higher chance of accidentally deleting or moving an app icon, leading to frustration and inconvenience.
  • Reduced Productivity - A cluttered desktop can negatively impact productivity. It may take longer to find and launch apps, leading to a waste of time and decreased efficiency. If you have notifications enabled for each app, you will get plenty of interruptions which can be distracting and limit your focus.

We’ll discuss some specific ways to combat app overload and these resulting issues. Doing so will improve visual clarity, efficiency, and your overall user experience.

Factors that Can Contribute to App Overload

Digital platforms are not all created equal. Some are more likely to contribute to app overload than others. A big part of that is because some apps tend to consume more system resources than others. The amount of resources an app uses can vary depending on several factors such as the app's complexity, features, background processes, and optimization.

Here are a few of the considerations that can contribute to an app consuming more resources:

  • CPU Usage - Some apps, particularly resource-intensive applications like video editing software or games, require significant processing power. These apps may utilize a higher percentage of the CPU, leading to increased resource consumption.
  • Memory Usage - Certain apps, especially those that handle large amounts of data or require extensive caching, may consume more memory (RAM). This can impact overall system performance, especially if multiple memory-intensive apps are running simultaneously.
  • Network Usage - Apps that rely heavily on network access, such as streaming services or online gaming platforms, may consume more network resources. They require a stable and fast internet connection, which can affect other network-dependent activities on your device.
  • Background Processes - Some apps continue to run in the background even when not actively used. These background processes can consume system resources, such as CPU cycles, memory, or network bandwidth. Examples include messaging apps, email clients, or cloud storage services that sync data in the background.
  • Graphics and GPU Usage - Graphics-intensive apps, such as graphic design tools or 3D modeling software, may require a powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) to render complex visuals. These apps can consume more GPU resources, which may impact overall system performance, especially on devices with limited graphics capabilities.
  • Battery Usage - Resource-intensive apps can have a significant impact on your device's battery life. Apps that constantly run in the background or perform heavy tasks, such as video streaming or GPS navigation, can drain the battery more quickly. It's a good practice to monitor and manage the battery usage of apps to optimize battery life.
  • Operating System Compatibility - Different apps may be designed to work optimally on specific operating systems or device models. Apps that are not optimized for a particular operating system version or hardware configuration may consume more resources or exhibit compatibility issues. Ensuring that you have the latest app versions and keeping your device's operating system up to date can help improve compatibility and performance.
  • User Settings and Preferences - Certain app features and settings can affect resource consumption. For example, video streaming apps may have quality settings that impact streaming resolution and data usage. Adjusting app settings according to your preferences and requirements can help optimize resource usage.

Resource consumption can also be influenced by factors like app optimization, updates, and the underlying hardware of your device. Keeping your apps updated and using devices with adequate resources can help to ensure smoother app performance and overall system efficiency.

Tips for Avoiding App Overload

If a lot of different actions can affect app performance, then there must be actions that can streamline apps, right? Here are a few tips to help you avoid the problem of app overload.

  1. Prioritize essential apps - Identify the apps that are essential for your daily tasks and uninstall or disable any unnecessary apps. This will help declutter your device and reduce unnecessary resource consumption.
  2. Be selective with app downloads - Be mindful of the number of apps you decide to use. Only install apps that you truly need and regularly use. Consider if there are alternative apps that can perform similar functions to avoid having multiple apps for the same purpose.
  3. Regularly reflect on unused apps - Periodically review the apps installed on your device and remove any that you haven't used in a while. Unused apps still consume storage space and may run background processes, impacting performance.
  4. Disable or limit background app refreshes -  Many apps refresh their content in the background, consuming system resources and battery. Disable or limit background app refresh for non-essential apps to conserve resources.
  5. Manage app notifications - App notifications can be distracting and contribute to app overload. Customize your notification settings to receive only essential notifications from your most important apps. If you use Shift as your browser, you can manage notifications all in one place. Doing so will limit the interruptions and distractions that are present when you are using your computer.
  6. Optimize app settings - Explore the settings within each app to find options for reducing resource consumption. For example, you may be able to lower video streaming quality in media apps or adjust location tracking settings in navigation apps.
  7. Pick web versions instead - Rather than installing separate apps for every service, consider using the web versions of some apps. Many popular services have mobile-friendly websites that offer similar functionality without the need for a dedicated app. You can find how-tos for several popular platforms (such as WhatsApp or Instagram) on our blog.
  8. Clear your app cache - Over time, apps accumulate cache data that can take up storage space and slow down performance. Regularly clear the cache of apps to free up storage and improve overall device performance.
  9. Keep apps updated - App developers often release updates that include performance improvements and bug fixes. Keep your apps updated to benefit from these optimizations and ensure compatibility with the latest operating system.
  10. Monitor resource levels - Use built-in device tools or third-party apps to monitor resource usage. This will help you identify which apps are consuming the most resources and take appropriate actions, such as optimizing settings or uninstalling resource-intensive apps.

By following these tips, you can avoid app overload and ensure a more streamlined and efficient app experience on your device.

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Review and Remove Unused Apps

One of the most important tips mentioned is to consistently review and remove unused or redundant apps. Doing so is important for your overall storage space, since unused apps still occupy resources on your computer. Over time, these apps will accumulate and take up a significant amount of storage, which limits the available space for other files and apps (including those which might be more important).

Additionally, freeing up storage space is helpful for overall performance and user experience. All of the resources required such as CPU, RAM, and battery can slow down a device’s performance and affect responsiveness. By removing unused apps, you can improve the overall performance of your device, making it faster and more efficient. Plus, unused apps that are not updated regularly may pose security risks. These apps may have vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers or malicious software. By removing unused apps, you reduce the potential attack surface on your device, making it more secure. Essentially, the fewer apps you have in use, the lower your risk of vulnerability.

Removing unused or redundant apps can also assist with organization. Having a cluttered app drawer or home screen can make it difficult to find and access the apps you actually use. By removing unused apps, you can declutter your device and create a more organized and streamlined app experience. Another important aspect of reviewing current apps is ensuring updates and compatibility. App developers regularly release updates to improve performance, fix bugs, and introduce new features. However, if you have too many apps installed, it can become overwhelming to keep track of and update all of them. By removing unused apps, you can focus on keeping the apps you use regularly updated and ensure compatibility with the latest operating system.

Overall, regularly reviewing and removing unused apps helps optimize storage space, improve device performance, enhance security, maintain organization, and ensure that your device is running efficiently.

Opt for a Browser Instead of an App

In many instances it's a good idea to use a web version of your preferred platform instead of the app. Often, the apps that you use regularly have a web instance that is easy to access. From shopping to banking to collaboration and cooperation, many apps have a web version that can be viewed on a desktop, sometimes with additional functionality or a better interface. Try looking into the following before you download a new app:

  • Web applications - Many popular apps also have web versions that can be accessed through a browser. For example, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, productivity tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, and streaming services like Netflix and Spotify all have web versions that you can use instead of installing their respective apps. By using the browser to access these web applications, you can reduce the number of apps you need to install on your device.
  •  Progressive web apps (PWAs) - PWAs are web applications that can be installed on your device and behave like native apps. They can be accessed through a browser but offer a more app-like experience. Many companies are developing PWAs to provide users with a lightweight and convenient alternative to installing a full-fledged app. By using PWAs, you can enjoy the benefits of specific apps without cluttering your device with multiple installations.
  • Mobile websites - In some cases, mobile websites can provide a satisfactory experience without the need for a dedicated app. For example, instead of installing a weather app, you can simply visit a weather website on your browser to get the desired information. Similarly, instead of installing various news apps, you can visit news websites directly in your browser. Mobile websites are designed to be responsive and offer a user-friendly experience on smaller screens, making them a viable alternative to installing multiple apps.

By utilizing web applications, PWAs, and mobile websites, you can limit the number of apps you need to install on your device. This can help save storage space, reduce resource consumption, and keep your device more organized.

Pick Shift: The Best Browser for Managing Desktop Apps

Shift makes it easy to implement some of the best practices that can reduce app clutter. For example, one of the most annoying aspects of app overload is being exposed to too many notifications, which can limit productivity. With Shift, you can streamline notifications so that you get them all in one place, and only in the way that you want them to appear. Shift makes it easy to customize the notifications that you get from various platforms, so that they can actually be helpful rather than cumbersome.

Additionally, Shift allows you to set up Workspaces that contain your favorite tabs, bookmarks, and accounts. This makes it simple to have important tabs on-hand and organized by workspace, then bookmark them for quick access later on. You can even add your favorite extensions and make sure they are set up with the programs you use most in your browser. Leveraging Workspaces is a great way to cut down the logging in and out process that can be so time-consuming. With Workspaces, you can personalize your online environment so that it’s most effective for what you want to do. For example, in a Workspace for your job, you might have Slack, Trello, and your company intranet, while a personal one has your banking accounts, Instagram, and your child’s school site.

That’s because Shift is the first browser to merge all of your web apps into one powerful window. Avoid app overload by installing Shift and accessing thousands of apps without ever leaving your browser.

Related Post: Integrating Apps Into Your Browser