We’ve all been there; your iPhone gets restored and you lose all of the app folders and page customization you spent months tweaking to perfection. Even when you restore from a backup, you lose your homescreen customization.

There’s actually a nifty iTunes trick that will allow you to regain your previous homescreen customization after an iOS restore. For jailbreakers, it isn’t that easy…

Macworld uncovered this interesting workaround,

“What if iTunes “restores” your folders before installing your third-party apps? That would mean that when iTunes tries to fill those folders with their original contents, only Apple’s stock apps are actually on the phone. (This would explain why, after an initial restore, the only apps inside folders are the iPhone’s stock apps.) This theory seemed to fit what I was seeing in iTunes during the restore and sync processes. So maybe a second restore would be like giving iTunes a second pass at restoring my folders and app organization?”

This logic sounds great in theory, but the only problem is that an iTunes restore wipes your iPhone clean every time. All of your settings are gone, and the stock iPhone apps are preloaded in their default configuration.

There are actually two types of “restores” in iTunes, and the second one allows you to restore your iPhone from a previous backup. Now, in order to even have a backup in the first place you can’t have a jailbroken device. When you jailbreak, you lose the ability to backup with iTunes.

If you have a backup in iTunes of your iPhone, follow these simple steps to regain your springboard configuration after a restore.

Step 1: Once your iPhone has been fully restored from a backup, reconnect the device to iTunes.

Step 2: Make sure all of your previous apps are synced back onto your iPhone.

Step 3: Highlight your iPhone in the iTunes sidebar. Right click (control-click) the device and select “Restore from Backup.”

Step 4: Select the same backup that your originally restored your iPhone from, and restore again.

Step 5: Let iTunes do its thing and re-sync your iPhone. When done, your homescreen layout (folders, etc) should be the way it was before your first restore.

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to regain your springboard layout after a restore if you have a backup of your iPhone in iTunes. Unfortunately, jailbreakers don’t get to share in this useful trick. Without a backup to restore from, this method can’t be performed.

You can use the PKGBackup app from Cydia to backup all of your jailbreak content before you upgrade iOS. Check out our full tutorial for more information. BackBoard is an interesting jailbreak app that allows you to easily save and switch springboard configurations. Of course, after a restore and re-jailbreak you would need to download BackBoard again.

Was this tutorial helpful for you? If you jailbreak, have you found a way to keep your homescreen layout after a restore? Share with us in the comments!


  • Anonymous

    Where do you get you can’t backup in itunes if you are jailbroken? I backup all the time in itunes and i’m jailbroken.

    • Tyler Hauser


    • KiraXD

      me too… hmmm

      • feelthepain444


    • Ben

      same for me too; jailbroken and can backup all the time

    • When an iphone is jailbroken and you restore it from backup, itunes will not install the apps from cydia. That’s why you need to backup using the cydia app.

  • PoyoloKo

    I didn’t work for me

  • PoyoloKo

    It didn’t work for me

  • Ben

    Well, what I usually do before and after upgrading and JB to have all the configuration and homescreen configuration is that I make a total backup and copy the created backup folder out of the reach of iTunes, i.e. Desktop. Actually this is just a failsafe if something goes wrong. Next I copy all the ipa backup files from the iTunes library on PC (Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Mobile Applications) on a folder on i.e. Desktop too. Next the upgrade and just the activation without restoring backup. Just set your iPhone as a new phone in iTunes. Next step is to JB, then configure Cydia and restoring cydia repos/applications (I prefeer to do this manually). Then i copy all the ipa files i copied as described above on the phone and install those manually one by one. after all this, well, I do a restore from the backup I made before upgrading firmware. I use this method all the time and all times I get everything, every configuration as it was before the upgrade, well, with exception of the firmware :). Configuration, apps configuration, homescreen configuration (including folders and possitions); I mean, just everything. Yes, it takes a little long (about 40-45 minutes) but I like it this way. Hope it helps.

    • tsiv

      I use PKGbackup and end up with an identical iPhone after the upgrade. Every time. I was pleasantly surprised the first time to see that absolutely everything was as before. So I guess I can say you don’t need to go to all this trouble, but you do it your way. Just my 2 cents. !

  • SpideyRules

    I don’t think it worked for PoyloKo…

  • XepptizZ

    I restore from backup all the time from a backed up jailbroken iphone

  • Michael

    Alex is my favorite blogger on this site. He always adds So much PIZAZZ on his blogs.

    • Thank you kindly 🙂

  • Haider Ijaz

    Yes me too i restore all the time from previous back ups after jailbreak. I never lose anything.

  • Rakshit Doshi

    a combination of xBackups and AppSync 4.x does the trick for me.

  • Ever hear of MultiIcon Mover?

  • Topsy

    Every body is different. Whenever I restore my iphone 4 and backup from previous backup, I loose all my folders. I even called apple help line and they told me the something Alex just said now. Though still waiting for when my iphone will go insane, then I’ll find out if it works.
    During the years of my iphone 3G, never had this problem. It’s so frustrating when you have to start arranging your folders again. It takes forever. Thanks for this post. Very useful.

  • Ai

    I back up my jb iPhone all the times. When I update the iOS, before I set up the phone, I jailbreak and install Cydia first. After that I would install all the apps I use from Cydia manually. Then I’ll turn on itune and set the phone up from a back up.

    • Topsy

      The question is, does it restore your folders just the way you last backed it up? Mine does not. It’s so annoying when you have to start the whole process again.

      • tsiv

        Yep, all the folders are back in place, even those I have on infinidock. Carbon copy.

  • When I recently went to sync my iPhone 3GS I was advised there was a new IOS update which I ok’ed. I was then told I needed to restore my iPhone which I had never done before. On completion of the restore I only had 11 pages of individual apps and not my 150+ folders with c. 1400 apps. I then spent three days sorting the apps into new folders then initiating a new app download and getting a few more old apps synced. If all apps need to be synced to the iPhone before doing the second restore all the apps need to be consolidated into folders, therefore obviating the need for restoring the original folders. Does PKGbackup backup any and all apps or only Jailbreak apps?

  • JustSomeGuy

    Last time I did this, I updated, applied the jailbreak and did a restore. It works perfectly.

  • tsiv

    First you have to backup in iTunes.
    Right click on the iPhones name on the left column in iTunes and select backup.
    That’s gonna take care of the Appstore apps.
    Then you backup with PKGbackup which takes care of the Cydia apps.
    When that’s done you upgrade to whatever the newer iOS version is.
    Then JB again.
    Then restore in iTunes (right click the iPhones name and choose the most recent backup).
    Then you download PKGbackup from Cydia.
    Restore in PKGbackup.
    Everything’s back where in place.

    Did I leave something out? 😉

  • tsiv

    Everything’s back in place. ‘swattamean.

  • megatr0n

    I just jailbroke my phone this past sunday with sn0wbreeze- restored from my previous backup thru itunes- then restored my cydia stuff from pkgbackup. it put everything back in place, exactly how I had it (I use folder enhancer as well) I was happy as fuck.

  • Thanks for all of the comments, guys. It appears that this issue varies across different devices, jailbreaks, iOS versions, etc. Most people can in fact backup while jailbroken, but iTunes will never be able to backup your Cydia apps.

    • tsiv

      Well there’s a cool iTunes tweak somebody ought to develop. (for macs and pcs)
      Some hack for iTunes that backs up the whole shebang in one fell swoop.
      Appstore apps and Cydia apps.

      Has this idea been discussed before?
      I can’t program worth a shit but I’m sure it can be done.

      I’d surely buy it if someone comes up with it!

    • doki81

      har…ya..someone need to correct this article…maybe author jailbroken device cant backup in itunes but it doesnt mean all..stereotyping is not good…

  • wera


    This tutorial is absolute misinformation.One can backup and restore jailbroken iPhone using iTunes. It will restore all your Homescreen settings and organization regardless if it is Cydia app or regular iTunes app. I’ve been doing it on mine and friends phones for ages and it still works fine. It always did.
    This tutorial was named “How to Maintain Homescreen Organization When Restoring Your iPhone”, right? So it is not about restoring applications but maintaining settings which is completely different issue. Cydia apps backup can be done using different Cydia tools as many posted above. Once you restore your Cydia apps, regardless if it is from Cydia backup tool or manual installation, all previously installed apps go neatly to the folders in which you have put them before backup. For iTunes apps there is no trick to be discovered. It is regular procedure and regular function of iTunes.

  • jizzle

    i accidentally deleted safari. is there an easy way of getting this back without going threw the trouble of restoring threw itunes? in the past ive always lost all my information iphone4, jailbroken using app.

  • Guest

    The problem is when transfering to another computer and your app and folder layout is lost when resyncing but there is a way to cheat itunes. You click sync Apps and hit apply and the slide the unlock bar immediately when your iphone shows sync in progress. Then cancel the sync, quit itunes and restart it. You will see itunes icon layout is same as your iphone layout.

    This answer was given on the apple forum by anoter person and they have deleted it twice already so apple do not want you to be able to fix this and this just makes me want to never get another iphone again if that is the atitude of apple. Shame on them!

  • Geoff Lohrere

    Your layout is lost when resyncing but there is a way to cheat itunes. You click sync Apps and hit apply and the slide the unlock bar immediately when your iphone shows sync in progress. Then cancel the sync, quit itunes and restart it. You will see itunes icon layout is same as your iphone layout.

    This answer was given on the apple forum and they have deleted it twice already so they do not want you to be able to fix this and this just makes me want to never get another iphone again if that is the atitude of apple. Shame on them!

    • patstar5

      Sorry, you posted 4 months ago but just got an iPhone 5 and have all my settings and content synced from 4s backup. Now I followed article and did this and it saids 5 hours left until finished syncing! Why so long? Took 20-30 minutes without all my content. The backup is big, about 11gb and it’s a 64gb iPhone with 8gb free. That could be why but really, 5 hours! Any help?