As we use our phones year after year or transfer everything to a new device, many of us have amassed a catalog of apps we once downloaded but don’t actually have. used in months (or possibly years). Whether it’s a failed social network, the companion app for the smart device you threw in the trash, or just Duolingo who shames you for giving up learning Spanish, all of these apps can take up valuable space on our storage. phone, cluttering our home screens, and, at worst, even draining our batteries.
In this article, I’ll discuss some quick and easy ways to get rid of apps you don’t use anymore and make apps you don’t use often a little more efficient.
Note: The screenshots in this article were taken with iOS 16, which is currently in beta. Screens may look slightly different in earlier versions of the operating system, but the instructions will work for iOS 15 and 16.
Use the Offload Unused Apps features
If you are looking for the easiest way to free up space, you can use the Offload Unused Apps feature built into iOS. Once activated, it automatically removes the apps you don’t use, although Apple doesn’t really give any details about how long you should ignore an app before it gets removed. Unlike when you delete an app from your phone, disabled apps will remain on your home screen or in your app library — only with a cloud icon next to their name. If you tap on an offloaded app, your phone will automatically redownload it and you can pick up more or less where you left off.
To have your phone automatically unload apps, go to Settings > App Storeand then toggle Offload unused apps. (You can also disable the feature here.)
To see how much space the feature can save you before enabling it, go to Settings > General > iPhone storage. In most cases, there will be a section stating how much space the feature can save you next to a Switch button that turns it on. The storage screen also provides great information about how much space your phone has left and how much space each app and its data is taking up. It can also be a good indication of how big an app is when you manually uninstall it, which I’ll cover in a moment.
There are a few drawbacks to using the Offload Unused Apps feature.
First, Apple’s supporting documentation strongly implies that you cannot re-download a deleted app once it has been removed from the App Store. So if you keep some deprecated apps for archiving purposes, you may not want to enable automatic offloading.
It can also bite you if there’s an app that you only use in areas where coverage is spotty or nonexistent. For example, it wouldn’t be so much fun if you discovered that your phone had discharged your hiking map app when you got to the trailhead.
Offload apps manually
While I haven’t been able to find a way to prevent specific apps from being uninstalled by the automated system, you can transfer apps manually instead of having your phone choose which apps to uninstall. Go to Settings > General > iPhone storage and choose the app you are trying to remove from the list. Then tap the Offload App knob.
Remove apps permanently
If you want to completely remove unused apps, there are a few ways to do it.
One of my personal favorites is to go to the App Store and then tap my profile picture in the top right to access the list of apps that have recently been updated. If I see one that I never actually use, I can swipe left on it to access a delete button. Checking this about once a month will keep your phone pretty clean.
If you’d rather do one big scavenger hunt to get rid of all the apps you don’t use at once, the app library makes it relatively easy. Scroll right through your home screens until you see all your apps categorized on one page. From there you can look through each category and delete the apps you no longer need by keep pressed their icons and tap Delete App.
Remember that the categories may contain more apps than you can see on the main app library screen – tapping the lower right corner of a category will open it and show all apps.
A final option is through the iPhone storage screen in Settings > General. If you tap the apps in the list (which are arranged by how much space they take up on your phone), you’ll see a Delete App option under the offload button. If you go through the list and delete every app you don’t use, you could end up with a lot of free space and a less cluttered phone.