Want to delete an app that's taking up storage space on your iPhone or iPad, or cluttering up its Home screen? Don't worry: it's a straightforward process, even when getting rid of the preinstalled Apple apps such as Maps, Stocks and Reminders (something that was first made possible with the launch of iOS 10 in 2016).
In this article we explain how to delete third-party apps on iPad & iPhone, and how to remove Apple's own preinstalled apps. For related advice, we've got a separate article showing how to delete Apple Watch apps, and another explaining how to delete apps on Apple TV.
Delete apps individually
If you're short of space on your iPhone or iPad one of the quickest ways to increase the storage available to you is to delete apps. This is actually very easy to do, in most cases.
To delete any app you've purchased from the App Store - or any web shortcuts you've added to your Home screen, for that matter - follow these steps:
- Find the icon for the app you want to delete.
- Tap and hold the icon until it starts to jump around (this indicates you're in Edit Mode).
- Tap the X that appears in the top-left corner of the unwanted app's icon.
- Confirm by tapping Delete.
- You can now delete further apps in the same way, drag to move them around on the screen, or press the Home button (or tap Done in the top right corner) to exit Edit Mode.
Open the App Store, tap your account icon at the top right, then tap Pending Updates. (Note that the old Updates tab has disappeared to make room for Apple Arcade.) You can now swipe left across a pending or recent update to access a delete option.
Delete multiple apps
If you've got lots of apps that you want to delete, and particularly if these are spread across pages of screens, you may not relish the task of selecting and deleting each one individually. Fortunately, there's a quicker way, and it also helps you identify which apps are taking up most storage space.
- Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage (or iPad Storage).
- Below the recommendations, your apps are listed in order of how much space they take up. Tap the one you want to delete.
- Choose Delete App.
- Repeat for any more apps you want to remove.
Delete preinstalled Apple apps
Apple preinstalls a number of apps on every iPhone and iPad. They're on there already when you first switch it on, and until recently they were stuck on there whether you wanted them or not.
Some of these are essentials that you wouldn't ever want to be without - like Messages, Clock, Calendar and Camera. However, there are also apps that people are less interested in using, and it can be frustrating if they take up room on your Home screens, making it more difficult to find the apps you use daily.
It's possible to delete some (although not all) Apple apps. The procedure is basically the same as that described above:
- Find the icon for the app you want to delete.
- Tap and hold the icon until it starts to jump around.
- Tap the X that appears in the top-left corner.
- Tap Remove or Delete - whichever appears.
If your reason for deleting apps on your iPhone was to make more room on your iPhone for photos and other things, you may be disappointed by the way this is handled.
As you can see from the screenshot above, preinstalled apps are generally 'removed' - you're telling iOS to take the icon off the home page rather than deleting the app in its entirety. You should still gain back some storage space, however, as associated data will be lost.
Which preinstalled Apple apps can be deleted?
These preinstalled apps can be deleted:
- Find My Friends
- iCloud Drive
- iTunes Store
- Voice Memos
Bear in mind that removing some of these apps will cause knock-on effects elsewhere you may not have considered - you'll have to unpair your Apple Watch before removing the Watch app, for instance, while removing Maps or Music will also remove them from CarPlay.
Note that the Phone app will still include your list of contacts even if you remove Contacts as a separate app, and let you instigate FaceTime calls even if you delete FaceTime itself.
Which preinstalled Apple apps cannot be deleted?
Some apps are so fundamental to the way iOS works that Apple doesn't let you 'delete' them, even in the limited way permitted under iOS 10 and later. These include:
- App Store
- Find My iPhone
Hide apps that can't be deleted
For now, the best way to hide the Apple apps that can't be deleted is to move them into a folder and then shunt that folder to a home screen buried below all your other home screens. You can even drag all but one of the app icons to a second screen in the folder.
However, you can't move all the icons over to the second screen because doing so will just move them all back to the first screen. So you'll still be stuck with one app icon on view (albeit small) but the rest will be hidden from view.
If you're really obsessive about this stuff (or if you have icons you really want to hide from prying eyes, perhaps a dating app or something embarrassing), there is a solution. You just need to change your iPhone wallpaper to the same colour as the folder, and create an icon that is also the same colour.
Here's how to hide Apple apps. Each of these steps is a bit convoluted so we'll explain in more detail below.
- Change your background to the same colour as a folder.
- Create an icon that is the same shade of grey.
- Remove the name of the folder.
1. Change your background to the same colour as a folder
We found that the easiest way to get a background the same colour as the folder was to screen grab a folder by selecting one so that it was enlarged on the screen, taking a screen grab, then opening the image in Photos and cropping it so that any icons weren't part of the image.
Then we went to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper and we picked the grey background from our images and selected Set Home Screen.
2. Create an icon that's the same shade of grey as a folder
The next challenge is getting an icon the same colour as the background/folder.
Download an app icon designing app from the App Store such as App Icons+ and create an app using your screen grab of the grey folder.
When we created our icon in App Icons+ we had to choose Background, then tapped on the Camera icon, picked the screen grab from our photos, and enlarged it so that it didn't pull the text telling us how to add it to our home screen into the icon too. You'll know what we mean if you use that app to do it.
3. Remove the name of the folder
Finally you need to remove the name for the folder so that the words aren't giving away its presence. The easiest way to create a nameless folder is by naming it with some blank text. You could paste in blank space from this tweet:
I haven't tweeted anything for ages... But here's some blank space for no real reason [ ].— Karen Haslam (@KarenhMW) April 3, 2017
In the case of this trick, 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.
The fact that the apps are still on your iPhone or iPad, means they are still using up storage space, so this is not the solution if you're trying to increase the storage space available to you. But it does at least tidy up your Home page and hide apps that you don't want others to see.
This is a trick that used to work in iOS 9, so try this only if you haven't updated your device to iOS 10 or later.
- Tap and hold on the icon of the app you want to hide until it starts shaking.
- Move the unwanted app to a folder (if there isn't a folder already set up, you can drag it onto another app you also want to remove and this will automatically create a new folder).
- Drag all the apps you don't want on your iPhone into this folder.
- Locate the folder containing all your unwanted apps.
- Tap on the folder so you can see its contents.
- Now tap and hold the icon of one of the apps you wish to do away with. Once it starts moving around drag it to the edge of the screen until it moves to the next page of the folder.
- Release your finger so that the icon settles on that page.
- Now repeat that step, by dragging that icon from page two of that folder to the edge of the folder.
- As you drag the icon to this third page press the Home button and rather than dropping into that third page the icon should fly off to the left.
This isn't a perfect solution as the next time you restart your iPhone, the 'vanished' apps will have returned to their original 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.)
Now we are running iOS 10 this trick no longer works.
Will anything go wrong if I remove preinstalled apps?
If you remove preinstalled apps using the standard method in iOS 10 and later, then you'll be fine. This is a feature that Apple fully approves and discussed in the iOS 10 keynote. (The iOS 9 workaround described above, on the other hand, is not officially recommended, but because the apps reappear the next time you restart, no lasting problems should be created.)
However, try to be aware that removing one app may have unforeseen consequences elsewhere. Many apps are linked to other apps in various ways.
Apple points out a few such issues. Some apps, such as Music and Podcasts, if removed from your iPhone or iPad, will also be removed from CarPlay - that might seem obvious, but it's something to consider. Similarly, apps will disappear from your Apple Watch if you remove them from the paired iPhone. (If you remove the Watch app itself - and you can - you will be prompted to unpair the iPhone from the Apple Watch first.)
Some apps feed information into the Notification Centre/Today view, and this supply will be cut off if you remove the app: Stock and Weather are the most obvious examples. (Their data may also be pulled into Apple Watch complications on your chosen watch face.) And others, such as Calculator, appear in Control Centre; that will disappear.
Most of these problems can be fixed, if they prove too much of an annoyance, by simply redownloading or restoring the app. The exception is the lost user data - that's not coming back.
One potential problem you may be worrying about that shouldn't be an issue: if you delete Contacts, the contacts information isn't deleted along with it. It's still stored, and can be accessed, in the Phone app (which can't be deleted).
Reinstall apps you've deleted
To reinstall an app you removed, open the App Store and search for it. You won't need to pay again (provided you're logged in with the same account used to buy the app last time); just tap the download icon to get it back.
If the app in question is one you bought very recently, or if you haven't bought many apps, you might find it easier to look through your Purchased list.
Again, open the App Store app. On iPhone, tap Updates at the bottom of the screen and then Purchased; on iPad the Purchased list gets its own link at the bottom of the screen. From here you can easily tap to download any and all apps that you've bought but which are not on this device.
And what about those preinstalled apps, such as Tips and Home? Remember that they haven't really been deleted; the 'deletion' process merely severs the link to the app from other parts of the system (such as Siri) and hides the icon. In theory, all you need to do is tell iOS that you want to use the app again, and it will restore the icon and reintegrate it into the system.
Apple could have done this with a switch, but for the sake of interface consistency and to avoid confusion the company has chosen to keep the process the same as for third-party apps. So, as ridiculous as it seems, you'll need to find the app on the App Store - Tips, for example, is here - then 'redownload' it in the usual way. Apple has joked that this download will be very quick.