How to Permanently Delete iPhone Apps

Whether an app is causing problems on your iPhone or you just want to free up some space, you can follow these steps to get rid of it for good.

There truly is an app for everything. That’s a fact avid iPhone users know all too well—especially when they look down at their phones and realize they have more apps than they ever wanted or needed. Ready to get rid of a few of yours and finally organize your apps? Not so fast. You need to make sure that you’re actually deleting them instead of simply hiding apps from view. If you don’t take a few extra steps, those unwanted apps will still be lurking somewhere on your smartphone. Thankfully, we have a handy iPhone trick for you. Here’s everything you need to know about how to delete apps on iPhone, whether you’re navigating from your phone, your computer, or even in iCloud.

Looking for even more iPhone hacks? Find out how to lock apps and how to edit photos on your iPhone like a pro.

How to delete apps on iPhone


Most iPhone users already know how simple it is to uninstall an app: Just touch and hold the app until a pop-up window appears and then select the Remove App option. (Depending on your iPhone model, your apps may start to jiggle when you hold the app icon, and you’ll tap the X or minus symbol to remove it.) From there, tap Delete App to confirm you want to uninstall the app from your phone.

One problem with this process? It removes the app from your home screen, but it doesn’t completely remove the app. It still exists in your Apple account, and it may even be unintentionally added back to your phone during an update or when you sync your device. Permanently deleting an app, whether from your Apple account, phone Settings, or iTunes, takes a few more steps. And they’re steps you might want to take if you have one of these apps that allow someone to spy on you.

Deleting from your Apple account

Deletinig Apps From Apple AccountRD.COM, GETTY IMAGES

“To delete an app from your Apple account, first uninstall the app from your iPhone,” says tech expert Andrew Jackson from Simply follow the instructions outlined above to do that. Then open the App Store, click on your profile picture (top right), and go to Purchased. “Here, you’ll find a list of apps installed,” he explains. “You can swipe left and tap Hide on any app where you don’t wish to have a record of the app being installed on your device.”

Hiding an app will remove it from your Apple account, but it will still appear in your purchase history, explains Charles Edge, an Apple aficionado and the author of more than 20 books, most of which cover Apple products. “The only way to remove an app from [your purchase history] is to contact Apple Support,” he adds. Find out the other things Apple employees don’t tell you.

Deleting from Settings

How To Delete Apps From SettingsRD.COM, GETTY IMAGES

There are a couple of other ways to permanently delete apps on an iPhone. To delete through Settings, Jackson instructs Apple users to go to General and then scroll down to iPhone Storage. “From here, you’ll see a list of apps installed on your iPhone,” he explains. “If you click on one of the apps, you’ll see the option ‘Delete App.’ It does exactly the same thing as deleting an app from the home screen; it’s just a different way of achieving the same thing.”

While you’re in settings, check out your iPhone privacy settings to ensure your information is properly protected.

Deleting from iTunes

“You can also delete apps through iTunes,” Jackson says. Open iTunes on your computer and click on the Library. Go to Apps and then right-click on the app you want to delete. You’ll be prompted to confirm that you want the app moved to the trash; from there, you’ll need to navigate to the trash and empty it.

Learn more about your device and find out how to add widgets to your iPhone.

How to delete apps from iCloud

Rd How To Delete Apps From IcloudRD.COM, GETTY IMAGES

Don’t forget that your iPhone may not be the only place an app exists—or at least a trace of it. As Edge explains, “iCloud Settings on a device can show purchase history [and] be used to control subscriptions and access certain family-sharing options.” For these reasons, an Apple user may want to delete apps from their iCloud as well (especially if you notice these red flags that you shouldn’t trust an app).

To turn off an app’s backups and delete the backup data from iCloud, head to Settings. Tap your name at the top, then go to iCloud. Scroll down to Manage Storage. Next, click on Backups and the device that you’re currently using. You’ll see a list of your apps. If you want to delete one, just toggle the button to the left. If you’re deleting an old messaging app but want a new (and safer) one, take a look at what secure messaging app you can download on your iPhone.

Can you delete preinstalled apps on an iPhone?

App shaking to represent the process of being deleted or, Getty Images

“The answer to this question is yes and no,” Jackson says. Some apps that are preinstalled can be removed, and others can’t. If you have an older iPhone, press and hold an app icon until it starts to wobble. Did an X or minus sign appear in the corner? If so, the app can be removed. If not, the app can’t be removed.

Speaking of apps you may (or may not) find useful, here’s everything you need to know about digital wallets and how they work.

How to delete preinstalled apps on iPhone

“The process for deleting preinstalled apps is the same as deleting any other app on an iPhone,” Jackson says. For older iPhones, press and hold the app until it jiggles and you see the X or minus sign. When given the option to remove, you can delete it.

Have a newer iPhone? Press and hold the app until a menu pops up. Tap Remove App to delete it.

Keep in mind that not all preinstalled apps will provide the same options for removal. “Some apps that are preinstalled will provide either a Delete App (like the Books app) or a Remove from Home Screen option,” Edge explains. “Remove from Home Screen simply hides the app, whereas Delete App deletes the application bundle completely. The reason we can’t just delete all apps is that some have libraries shared with other apps to enable various functions of those apps.”

You’ll be able to tell which preinstalled apps can and can’t be removed when you hold down the apps and see which options are available.

How to offload unused apps

How To Offload Unused apps Apps 1RD.COM, GETTY IMAGES

Let’s say you went on a wild app-downloading spree when you first got your phone, and now you have pages and pages of apps, most of which you never use. You could go through, one by one, deleting individual apps and hoping you don’t accidentally get rid of one you need. Or you could allow your phone to offload unused apps for you.

To utilize this option on an iOS device, start by going to Settings. Tap General and then iPhone Storage. You’ll see a section titled Offload Unused Apps. From there, tap Enable. “Your iPhone will then automatically remove apps that you’re simply not using to free up valuable space,” Jackson says.

Note: If you don’t have a lot of unused apps, this may not be an option provided to you when in iPhone storage. How else can you free up storage? By deleting your iPhone’s call history.

Why permanently delete an app?

According to Edge, there are a few reasons you might want to permanently delete an app.

  • You want to reset the app back to its factory default settings because it’s problematic.
  • You think the app is causing problems elsewhere in the device as a result of malfunctions that started occurring after you installed it.
  • You want to delete some of the data within an app. (For instance, apps that keep track of your credit card information.)
  • You no longer use the app and want to free up resources like memory and load time. After all, the more apps you have working in the background, the slower your device will be.

Other reasons might include finding another app that feels like a better fit for what you were hoping to accomplish. Whatever your reason, there are several ways to permanently delete an unwanted app from an iOS device.

Next, learn how to delete everything on your iPhone and keep your personal information safe.


Leah Campbell
Leah Campbell covers technology for Reader’s Digest as well as sites including She has a degree in developmental psychology and has written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. A single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter, Leah is also author of the book Single Infertile Female. She lives in Alaska. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.