How to clean iPhone apps that you do not use

How to clean iPhone apps that you do not use

As we use our phones year after year or transfer everything to a new devicemany of us have amassed a catalog of apps that we downloaded at one point but have not actually done so Used for months (or possibly years). Whether it’s a failed social network, the companion app for smart device that you threw in the trash or just Duolingo embarrassing you for giving up learn Spanishall these apps can take up valuable space on our phone storage, interfere with our home screens and, in the worst case, even drain our batteries.

In this article, I will go through some quick and easy ways to get rid of apps you no longer use and to make apps that you do not use very often a little more effective.

Note: The screenshots in this article were taken with iOS 16, which is currently in beta. The screens may look slightly different on earlier versions of the operating system, but the instructions work for iOS 15 and 16.

Use the features to download unused apps

If you’re looking for the easiest way to free up some space, you can use the Unload Apps feature built into iOS. Once enabled, it will automatically uninstall the apps you do not use, although Apple does not really provide details on how long you must ignore an app before downloading. Unlike when you delete an app from your phone, downloaded apps get stuck on your home screen or in your app library – just with a cloud icon next to their name. If you tap on a downloaded app, your phone will automatically download it again, and you can continue more or less where you left off.

Screenshot of an app that has been downloaded between other apps that are still installed

Apps that have been downloaded will be marked with a download symbol.

If you want your phone to download apps automatically, you can go to settings > App Storethen switch Download unused apps. (You can turn off the feature here as well.)

If you first want to see how much space the feature can save you, go before you turn it on settings > General > iPhone storage. In most cases, there will be a section that tells you how much space the feature can save you along with one Enable the button that turns it on. The storage screen also provides good information about how much space your phone has left and how much space each app and its data takes up. It can also be a good gauge of how big an app is when you manually delete it, which I will touch on in a moment.

Screenshot showing the iPhone Storage screen with the recommendation to download unused apps

Using the iPhone Storage screen, you can see how much space the Unload Apps app saves you.

There are some disadvantages to using the Unload Apps feature.

First, Apple supporting documentation strongly means that you will not be able to download a downloaded app again if it is removed from the App Store. So if you keep some deprecated apps for archiving purposes, you may not want to enable auto-unloading.

It can also bite you if there is an app that you only use in areas where coverage is spotty or non-existent. For example, it would not be very fun if you discover that your phone had discharged from your hiking map when you got to the trail.

Download apps manually

Although I could not find a way to prevent specific apps from being downloaded by the automated system, you can download apps manually instead of letting your phone choose which apps to delete. To do so, go to settings > General > iPhone storage and select the app you are trying to get rid of from the list. Then press Download the app button.

Delete apps permanently

If you want to get rid of unused apps altogether, there are a few ways to do so.

One of my personal favorites is to go to the App Store and then tap on my profile picture at the top right to access the list of recently updated apps. If I notice one there that I basically never use, I can drag left on it to access a delete button. Checking this once a month or so will keep your phone fairly clean.

Gif that shows how to remove apps from the App Store update screen

Manually updating your apps makes this technology even smoother.

If you’d rather make a big sweep 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 remove the apps you no longer need press and hold on their icons and tap Delete the app.

Do not forget that the categories may have more apps than you can see from the main screen of the app library – by tapping the lower right corner of a category it will open and all apps will be displayed.

One last option is through the iPhone Storage screen settings > General. If you tap the apps in the list (which are sorted by how much space they take up on your phone) you will see a Delete the app the option under the unload button. If you go through the list and delete all the apps you do not use, you can get a lot of free space and a less cluttered phone.

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