How can I delete Stocks, Game Center, Health, Tips, Calendar, Videos, Reminders, iBooks, Notes, News, the Apple Watch app and other pre-installed stock Apple apps from my iPad or iPhone? And can I permanently delete other apps, so they're completely wiped from my iTunes account?
We get these questions a lot; we all hate having unwanted app icons on our iPad and iPhone screens. More seriously, unwanted apps take up storage space on your iPad or iPhone that you may need for your apps and media files.
Apple has historically prevented iPhone and iPad owners from deleting the apps that come preinstalled on the devices: Stocks, Game Center, Notes, Calendar and so on. As of 5 January 2016, that remains the case, and officially you're still not allowed to delete Apple's preinstalled apps from your iPhone or even hide their icons (although of course you can pop all the unwanted apps in a folder in a screen on their own, and never look at them again).
But there is hope. Firstly, there are some tricks you can use to get round Apple's restrictions, although all are imperfect in some way - some are only temporary, some require you to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad, others are handy workarounds rather than true fixes. And Tim Cook has indicated that the company intends to relax its approach to this issue in the near future (on some preinstalled apps, if not all of them), and we talk a little about these prospects in this article too.
Here, then, is how to delete, hide or otherwise get rid of unwanted apps and app icons from an iPhone and iPad. We're currently running iOS 9 on our devices, but these methods work with any version of iOS going back to iOS 6 and even earlier; eagle-eyed readers will noticed that the screenshots come from various versions of iOS, but the methods remain essentially the same. We explain any situations in which the interface looks or behaves differently between different versions of iOS.
As well as talking about deleting apps, we'll briefly mention methods to get back apps you've deleted - even if that app has since been removed from the App Store.
Here are the areas we cover in this article; jump to the bit that interests you.
How to hide apps (resets itself on a restart)
How to get the hidden apps back
How to set up a folder for hiding away unwanted apps (won't reset itself)
How to delete apps from an iPhone or iPad (but not pre-installed apps)
How to delete iOS apps from a Mac, so they don't re-sync
How to get back a deleted app
How to delete pre-installed apps (requires jailbreaking)
How to delete pre-installed apps: non-jailbreak methods
Latest rumours about Apple officially allowing us to delete pre-installed apps
How to hide any app on your iPhone or iPad
A new trick has been discovered that enables you to hide any app on your iPhone or iPad - including, miraculously, those pre-installed Apple apps, such as Stocks, Newsstand or the Apple Watch app, that were previously impossible to get rid of.
We understand that this works in iOS 9 only, but we haven't been able to test with earlier versions; if anyone has iOS 8 or earlier and can confirm this one way or the other, let us know in the comments.
Here's how to make those unwanted apps vanish:
1. Tap and hold on the icon of the app you want to hide until it, and all the other app icons, start shaking. You're now in Edit Mode, which allows you to drag icons into new positions, or delete them by tapping the grey cross. (If it's a preinstalled app, unfortunately, there won't be a grey cross.)
2. The unwanted app needs to be in a folder. If it isn't in one already, drag its icon into a folder. If you haven't got any folders, just drag the icon on top of another one, and wait for a folder to be created.
(The trick will take longer if the folder contains a lot of apps spread across multiple pages, so it might be easiest to create a new folder which just contains the apps you want to hide. In our example we're using a folder which contains nine Apple apps, all sitting on the first page.)
3. Now go into the folder containing the unwanted app(s). Again, using Edit Mode, drag its icon to the righthand edge of the folder and wait until you're taken to the next page of the folder. Continue doing this until you get to the first empty page of the folder: in many cases, including our example, this will be a newly created second page.
4. Release your finger so that the icon settles in the top-left position of that page, on its own. We now have eight icons on the first page, and one on the second.
We're doing this on an iPhone 6s Plus in landscape mode to make it easier to see what's happening, but if you're in portrait mode, or using a non-Plus iPhone which hasn't got a landscape mode, it'll look slightly different - you'll only see one page of the folder at a time, for one thing.
5. Now repeat step 3: drag the icon to the righthand edge of the folder, and wait for iOS to create yet another page for the icon to sit on - in our case this would theoretically leave us with eight icons on page 1, a blank page 2, and a single icon on page 3. But this time, instead of removing your finger and letting the icon land on its new page, press the Home button while continuing to hold your finger down. The icon will fly off to the top left.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each app you want to hide; once you've made all the apps in the folder vanish, it will disappear too.
Here's a video of the process, created by (to the best of our knowledge) the first person to discover this trick:
How to get the vanished apps back
The apps are still on your iPhone or iPad, they're just hidden. If you run a Spotlight search (swipe down from any screen) for the name of the app, it'll still appear and can be run normally.
What's more, the next time you restart your iPhone, the 'vanished' apps will be back in their normal place, displayed for all to see. (It follows that if you want your iDevice to remain in its uncluttered state, don't restart it for a while.)
The fact that the apps are still on your iPhone or iPad, using up storage space, makes this an imperfect solution - and it will be annoying to see them all reappear as soon as you restart. But it does at least tidy up your Home page for the time being, and remains the closest we've yet come to being allowed to delete Apple's preinstalled apps.
How to set up a folder for hiding away unwanted apps
The method above, as we say, is temporary. We therefore prefer an older and far simpler method of hiding unwanted apps: to put the icons for all the Apple apps we don't use in a folder called 'Apple stuff', and then put that on a page all by itself.
To organise apps into folders, press and hold the icon for one of them until it starts wobbling, then drag it on to the second app you want to be in the folder. iOS will automatically generate a title for the folder based on the apps' descriptions, but if you tap this name you can rename it.
How to delete an app or game from your iPad or iPhone (but not Apple's preinstalled apps)
Okay, let's move on to the basic deletion process for apps that you've added to your iPhone or iPad since it was first activated. This won't work on the pre-installed apps that Apple put on the device in the factory. (This is for beginners, really. If you know how this works, skip ahead to the next step.)
Start your iPhone or iPad and go to the Home screen (press the Home button below the screen, or touch all five fingers to the screen and draw them inwards like a claw.) Find the icon for the app you want to delete, and press and hold it for a few seconds. It (and all the other icons on the screen) will start to wobble gently, and a small cross will appear in a grey circle by each. Tap the cross, then confirm you want to delete the app.
The app icons start wobbling...
Tap the cross and it'll ask you to confirm the deletion
How to delete an iOS app from iTunes on your Mac
If you sync your iPhone or iPad with a Mac on a regular basis, you'll need to remove the app from the Mac too. Open iTunes, make sure you're in the library section (if you're in the iTunes Store, click on Library at the top right of the screen), then select Apps from the dropdown menu at the top left. Find the icon of the app you want rid of, right-click it and select Delete.
How to recover a deleted iPhone or iPad app
If you ever change your mind and want to get the deleted app back, don't worry - Apple's App Store will remember that you've bought it already. Find the app on the App Store and it will offer the option to download it once again, instead of the usual price tag or 'FREE'. Click download and you won't be charged again.
How to recover any app (even ones removed from the App Store)
Removing an app from your iOS device deletes the app from your iPhone (or iPad) but it remains in your Purchased List.
This is incredibly handy, because it enables you to re-download the app at any later point. You can even re-download apps that have been removed from sale on the App Store. Once you've purchased an app from the App Store, it's yours for life.
The recent news that EA is removing many of its most popular games from the App Store has shone a light on the ability to re-download apps. It doesn't matter if a publisher removes an app from sale, you can still get a copy you've already purchased from the App Store. This is great news for those who deleted the wonderful Flight Control a while back and feared that EA's decision meant they wouldn't ever be able to play it again.
Here's how to re-download apps from the App Store:
- Open the App Store on your iPhone.
- Ensure that you're signed in with the same account you used to purchase the app (tap Featured and scroll to the bottom to view which Apple ID you're using).
- Tap Updates.
- Tap Purchased.
- Tap Not On This iPhone.
- Tap the Download icon next to the app you want to download to your iOS device.
If you have a lot of apps in the list of purchased apps, use the search box at the top to find the app.
Can I delete an app from my App Store account permanently?
But what if you want to remove the app from your App Store account permanently?
This might seem like an odd thing to ask, but when you're updating apps, you don't want your list of purchased apps to be clogged up with free apps you tried once then deleted. If you wanted to reinstall an app you deleted a while ago, you may find yourself skimming through a huge list of tried and discarded apps, particularly if your app attention span is as short as ours.
Apple fans have been crying out for this feature for a while, but sadly at present it isn't possible.
If you don't want your updates clogged up with deleted apps, however, you can just look at the ones on your iOS device. If you're looking at a view of updates with 'Purchased' at the top, hit the 'Updates' button at the top left.
If you're worried about other people who use your iPhone or iPad (or share your iTunes account) seeing embarrassing or adult apps on your purchase history, the best policy is probably to log out from your iTunes/App Store account when you hand over the device. Then if they need to download an app you can type in the password for them.
We've rounded up links to all our iPhone tips and tutorials here: iPhone tips and tutorials, everything you need to know
How to delete Stocks, Game Center and other pre-installed Apple apps (requires jailbreaking)
Not everyone likes Apple's own apps, but it's not easy to get rid of them; Apple doesn't allow you to simply delete Safari, Notes, Game Center and the rest. (We think this is a rather inconsiderate policy, and it's one of the things we discuss in this article about Apple's 'monopoly'.) You can get around that, but it may not be worth the effort.
Officially you can't delete Apple's own pre-installed iOS apps, leaving most of us with the slightly unsatisfactory hiding methods described above. But if you're willing to jailbreak your iPhone or iPad then you can do pretty much what you like.
Jailbroken iOS devices can access the Cydia marketplace for unauthorised iOS apps. You can search for apps related to Newsstand, but one that's used successfully by a large number of users is called NoNewsIsGoodNews. Install this app and run it, and the Newsstand 'folder' icon will be deleted. Any magazine apps you had inside Newsstand will appear loose on your home screen, and can be placed in folders as normal. Here's some more explanation of the process.
Again, if you want to delete Apple's other apps you'll need to jailbreak the iPhone, and one possibility you'll find on Cydia is called iFile, which lets you access (and delete) all the system and application files on your iPhone. Here's a video of the procedure, but as the man says, remember to back the files up before deleting them, in case you make an error and delete something vital to the running of your Apple device.
If either of these Cydia apps disappear, or you're not happy with them, run similar searches on Cydia, which has plenty of apps for reorganising the files on your iPhone or iPad. But as we've said, be cautious: you're outside Apple's fenced-in ecosystem now.
Is there any way to delete Apple apps without jailbreaking?
Having said that you need to jailbreak, there do appear to be a couple of tweaks out there that will at least temporarily delete pre-installed apps from your iPhone or iPad without jailbreaking, but they all involve visiting sites and accessing files that may carry risks, just as jailbreaking does.
One possibility is a site called rag3hack: accessing this site from an iOS device gives you the option to 'delete' stock Apple apps (actually it just changes the settings so that these apps will get the black cross mentioned above, letting you delete them manually). However, the next time you restart the device they'll have returned, so we're not sure this is a solution either. Still: here's how it works.
Latest rumours about Apple officially allowing us to delete pre-installed apps: Tim Cook says Apple "looking at" app removal tool
When you first set up an iPhone it comes with a set of default apps. Some of these, like Phone, Messages and Mail are a vital part of the iOS experience.
Others, like Weather and Stocks are not so vital, and may people never touch them. Stocks seems particularly unwelcome, and many users have expressed that they'd like to remove them from the phone.
At the current time, there is no way to get rid of these default apps from iOS. If you put the Home Screen in Jiggle Mode, these apps move around but don't display the small 'x' to indicate deletion.
All is not lost, however, during a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that in the future Apple may give owners the option to delete these apps.
"It’s not that we want to suck up your real estate, we’re not motivated to do that," said Cook. "We want you to be happy. So I recognize that some people want to do this, and it’s something we’re looking at."
If and when Apple enables a method to remove stock apps, like Stocks and Weather, we'll update this article with information on how to remove the apps.