How to clean up the iPhone apps you don’t use.

Declutter your phone and free up space.

Many of us have acquired a catalog of applications that we downloaded at one time but haven’t really utilized in months as we use our phones year after year or shift everything over to a new device (or possibly years). Whether it’s a failed social network, the companion app for the smart device you threw away, or Duolingo shaming you for giving up on learning Spanish, all of these apps can eat up valuable storage space on our phones, clutter up our home screens, and, in the worst-case scenario, drain our batteries.

In this article, I’ll go over several fast and easy ways to get rid of programs you don’t use anymore and make apps you don’t use very frequently more efficient.

Please keep in mind that the screenshots in this post were taken using iOS 16, which is presently in beta. The screens on prior versions of the OS may seem somewhat different, but the instructions will work for iOS 15 and 16.

Use the Offload Unused Apps features

If you want to free up some space as quickly as possible, you may utilize iOS’s Offload Unused Apps option. Once engaged, it will automatically delete any applications that you do not use, however, Apple does not specify how long you have to ignore an app before it is removed. Offloaded applications, unlike those deleted from your phone, will remain on your home screen or in your app library, although with a cloud symbol next to their name. If you touch on an offloaded app, your phone will instantly download it again, allowing you to resume where you left off.

Go to Settings > App Store, then select Unload Unused Apps to have your phone automatically offload apps. (You may also disable this functionality here.)

Before you switch on the function, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to check how much space it can save you. In most situations, there will be a section that tells you how much space the function can save you, as well as an Enable button that will enable it. The storage screen also shows how much space your phone has remaining and how much space each app and its data takes up. It may also be a helpful indicator of how huge an app is when manually uninstalling it, which I’ll discuss shortly.

There are a few drawbacks to using the Offload Unused Apps function.

First, Apple’s support material clearly suggests that once an app is withdrawn from the App Store, you won’t be able to re-download it. If you wish to maintain any deprecated apps for archive purposes, you might not want to enable automated offloading.

It can also bite you if you solely use an app in locations with weak or non-existent connectivity. It wouldn’t be much fun, for example, to arrive at the trailhead and learn that your phone has uninstalled your hiking map app.

Offload apps manually

While I couldn’t discover a way to block individual applications from being offloaded automatically, you can offload apps manually rather than letting your phone decide which apps to trash. To do so, navigate to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and choose the app you want to delete from the list. Then select the Offload App option.

Permanently delete apps

There are a few options for completely removing unneeded applications from your device.

One of my personal faves is to go to the App Store, then hit my profile picture in the upper right to see a list of recently updated apps. If I see one there that I rarely use, I may swipe left to find a delete option. Checking in on this once a month or so will maintain your phone in good shape.

If you’d prefer to take a large sweep to get rid of all the applications you don’t use all at once, the app library makes it quite simple. Scroll through your home screens to the right until you see all of your applications organized on one page. You may then browse through each category and eliminate the applications you no longer require by touching and holding on to their icons and selecting Delete App.

Remember that the categories may include more apps than what is seen on the main app library page – touching on the bottom right corner of a category will open it and reveal all the apps.

One last method is to access the iPhone Storage screen from Settings > General. If you press on the applications in the list (which are arranged by how much space they take up on your phone), a Delete App option will appear under the unload button. You may wind up with a lot of free space and a less crowded phone if you go through the list and delete every program you don’t use.

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