4 ways to delete iOS apps on your iPhone or iPad

Space is often at a premium on iPhones and iPads. That's why it makes sense to keep only those apps that you know you really want. Here's how to get rid of the ones you don't.

If you’re like most iOS users, you have lots of apps. It’s all too tempting and all too easy to buy new ones (or download free ones) from the App Store. As a result, you probably have a number of games, productivity apps, and utilities on your iPhone or iPad that you’ve hardly ever used and aren’t likely to use in the future.

But if you keep doing that, those apps will start to crowd your iOS device (and your iTunes library), taking up space and requiring frequent updates. That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically get rid of the apps you don’t use anymore. (You can always download them again from the App Store if you change your mind.) Culling your apps library can make managing your app collection easier and free up precious storage space. Here are four ways to do it.

Tap and wiggle

tap and wiggle

After you tap and hold any icon, the apps wiggle, and the X lets you delete them.

Deleting apps on an iOS device is simple: Just tap and hold any app icon until all the icons start wiggling. You’ll notice that many, if not most of them, have a little X at the top left corner. (The ones that don’t have the X are default apps that are part of iOS; you can’t delete those.)

To delete an app, tap the X, then tap Delete in the dialog the displays. Note that doing so deletes not only the app, but also all of its data. So if you think you’ll need an app again soon, and you have stored data, settings or completed levels for it, you might want to think twice before tapping that X.

From Settings

Another way to delete apps on an iOS device is from the Settings app. In iOS 11, Tap Settings > General > iPhone Storage. A list of your apps will appear at the bottom of the screen; it may take a few moments to load. This list is useful because it shows how much storage each app actually uses. That may include just the app itself or the app plus all its attendant files and data. If you need to free up a specific amount of space—perhaps when you want to download a movie—this is a good place to look.

ios11 offload unused apps IDG

iOS 11's Offload Unused Apps setting.

Deleting from here is simple, too: Tap on an app’s name, then tap Delete App.

There’s another setting here you may want to take a look at. Above the app list is a setting called Offload Unused Apps. This setting will remove apps you don’t use when you need the storage. The documents and data associated with those apps will be saved, and you can reinstall the app when you need it. You can also get to this setting in iOS 11 via Settings > iTunes & App Stores.

From iTunes on a Mac

This is for those of you who have not upgraded to iTunes 12.7 on your Mac. With iTunes 12.7, Apple removed the iOS App Store and iOS app management. If you upgraded to iTunes 12.7 and wish you didn’t, you can install iTunes 12.6.3. Here’s how.

But if you didn’t upgrade to iTunes 12.7, here’s what you need to know. When you delete apps from your iOS device, iTunes will not copy them back on to your device the next time you sync it. So the above techniques are great if you want to delete apps from specific devices but still retain them in your iTunes library.

If, on the other hand, you want to nuke them entirely, go to iTunes and choose your Apps library. Click an app to select it, then press the Delete key. Another dialogue will ask you to confirm. (You may indeed want to keep them; Ted Landau recently posted a tip discussing why that can be useful.) You can remove the apps from your iTunes library, but keep them in a folder on your Mac just in case.

delete app itunes 12 IDG

You can right-click on an app in your iTunes library and select Delete.

It may help to view the apps in your iTunes library in a list. Click the View menu, then select View As > List. Click the Purchase Date header to sort by the date you purchased the apps. If you don’t see a Purchase Date header, click on the View menu and select Show View Options, then in the pop-up window, look in the Stats section and check the box for Purchase Date. You can also right-click on a blank header in the iTunes list and select Purchase Date in the pop-up menu.  (The Purchase Date is either the date you downloaded an app or, if it has been updated, the date of its last update.) Look at the apps with the oldest purchase dates to decide if you still use them.

When updating via iTunes on a Mac

There’s one other way you can delete apps from your iTunes library, and it’s one I use often. I have hundreds of apps, many that I use regularly, but most that I only tried out. It takes too long to go through my Apps library and try and remember what each app does. So I wait until there are updates.

In iTunes’ Updates section, you’ll see a list of new versions of apps that you can download, when an app has been updated. When I see an app in the Update window that I don’t use anymore, I delete it. To do this, right-click on an app’s icon and choose Delete from Library. This deletes the app itself from your iTunes library, and also removes the update notification. The next time you sync your iOS devices, the apps you have deleted from your iTunes library will be removed from your devices.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon