Can't connect to the App Store to download apps on your iPhone or iPad? Or are you having problems downloading an app or an update to an app?

These are quite common problems, sadly. But more happily, there are plenty of simple solutions you can try. We recommend you work through the following steps to try and fix the problem.

1. Check if the App Store is down

From time to time Apple sufers from a server outage. It could be that the App Store is down and nobody can access it. Read more here: Is the App Store down?

The quickest way of finding out is to check Apple's System Status page, which lists problems with all of the company's online services; the App Store is first on the list. Note that if the problem occurred very recently it may not have been noticed yet: the site's update frequency is in the order of minutes, not seconds.

What to do if your iPhone or iPad can't connect to the App Store: System Status

If that comes up blank, a search for relevant terms on Twitter can often be a good way of finding out if people are sharing your pain. (If you click on that link you'll automatically search Twitter and the results should indicate if others are having problems).

If the store is down, this is both bad news and good news. There's not much you can do to solve the problem, but on the other hand you can just sit back and wait for Apple to solve it, which should happen quickly.

2. Check your web connection

It's an obvious one, but you need to be online to access the App Store.

Make sure you're connected to the internet - visit Google, for example. If WiFi turns out to be the issue, here's how to fix WiFi problems so you can get online.

3. Try another WiFi network

Even if the WiFi network is working there may be a restriction on it that is stopping you from accessing the App Store. Work networks, for instance, may be set up to block certain sites and services to preserve bandwidth.

Try using an alternative WiFi network and see if that fixes the problem.

4. Are you set to download over 3G or 4G?

Perhaps you aren't on a WiFi network at all. If you are accessing the App Store over your 3G or 4G connection, that may be the root of your issue.

While using your mobile network connection shouldn't stop you from accessing the App Store entirely, if your iPhone is set to only download apps over WiFi you won't be able to download apps over a 3G/4G connection.

Try connecting to a reliable WiFi network and see if this allows downloads to go ahead. Or, as long as you can spare the data, open the Settings app and tap Mobile Data. In the section headed 'Use mobile data for', make sure the slider beside App Store is set to on (green).

What to do if your iPhone or iPad can't connect to the App Store: Mobile data

While we're on this topic, there is a separate option that dictates whether your device can automatically download app updates as soon as they appear on the App Store, as long as your iPhone is connected to the internet via WiFi. This could be a handy setting if you are frequently finding apps aren't working because they need to be updated. But it could prove annoying if you have a lot of apps and feel that your iPhone is always downloading updates (and wasting battery life doing so). Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store, and turn the slider to green beside Updates.

There is even a setting that allows your iPhone to use mobile data to automatically download app updates. Before you turn this on beware that it could mean that your iPhone uses a lot of data downloading updates. If you think that the risk of using up data is worth it, Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store, and tap the slider next to Use Mobile Data at the bottom.

5. Have you run out of data?

Even if your settings allow you to download apps over a cellular connection, your data allowance for the month may be maxed out.

Unfortunately it's not straightforward to monitor your data usage on iOS. It's a good idea to check the terms of your contract to see how much data you're allowed and to find out the date on which your data allowance is reset. If you know this information you can reset the Mobile Data statistics on your iPhone in Settings > Mobile Data on that day of the month and at least keep tabs on how much data you are using, and which apps are the biggest data swallowers.

If it turns out you need more data then you might have to pay for more, but before you do, you might find that you can manage your data usage better if you follow the tips in this article: How to manage mobile data on an iPhone.

6. Is the app no longer supported?

It's possible that you're trying to update an app that is out of date and no longer supported by iOS. Try downloading a different app to see if this is what's causing the update to fail.

Try searching for the app in the App Store, if it isn't showing up it's likely that it's been removed.

7. Is the app too large to download over 3G?

A final note for those unable to download apps: remember that iOS stops you downloading really large apps (anything above 100MB, although there is some doubt over whether this has been relaxed in iOS 10) over a cellular connection, so check the size of the file.

It's possible to hack your way past this restriction by jailbreaking and then installing a tweak such as 3GUnrestrictor (although be warned that we've not tried this and cannot vouch for it), but it's probably easier to just wait until you're on WiFi to run the download.

8. Try logging out and logging in again

Okay, let's try some simple resets to see if this jogs the App Store into working. First, try logging out and then log back into the App Store on your iPhone - that should fix it:

  • Go to Settings > iTunes & App Store
  • Tap on Apple ID and Sign Out
  • Log in again using your Apple ID and password

9. Clear your memory

Perhaps it's a memory issue (older iPhones, especially those with less RAM and less storage are prone to this). Double-tap the Home button and swipe up on the App Store to close the app. Reopen it and see if that fixes the problem.

If it doesn't, close all open apps and turn your phone on and off again to clear the memory. You can find some other tricks to free up your iPhone RAM here: How to clear the cache on your iPhone or iPad.

10. Force-refresh the App Store

You could also try force-refreshing the App Store app by tapping ten times on the App Store navigation bar (that's the one at the bottom of the screen that is populated with Featured, Categories, Top Charts, Search and Updates). You should see the app flicker, or go blank and display a 'loading' notification.

What to do if your iPhone or iPad can't connect to the App Store: Force-refresh App Store

11. Check your Data & Time settings

Your Date & Time settings are unexpectedly relevant to this issue, because the App Store uses them to check on your location (probably).

Go to Settings > General > Date & Time and choose Set Automatically. (This setting means that if you travel from, say, London to San Francisco, as soon as your iPhone recognises it is in a new territory it will automatically change the time accordingly.)

12. Reset your network settings

Try resetting your network settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings and see if that fixes the problem.

13. Update your software

There might be a known issue with the way the App Store is accessed by your iPhone that has been fixed in an update to iOS, so it's worth checking you're on the latest version.

Go to Settings > General > Software Updates and see if there are any available updates. For more information on this process, see How to update iOS.

14. Contact Apple

If all else fails you could contact Apple (here's the company's UK contact page) and seek further advice.