How to Install Apps That Are Missing from the App Store

Even if the app is gone, you may still be able to install it

What to Know

  • Two ways to download an app that's not on the App Store: From a friend who has it, or a backup. Both require an older version of iTunes.
  • Friend's device: Go to the folder with the app. Copy it to the cloud or removable storage media. Drag to iTunes and sync with iOS device.
  • iTunes: Sync your iOS device with iTunes by going to File > Devices > Transfer Purchases

Sometimes an app that shouldn't be allowed into the App Store slips through and is available for a few hours or days before it's removed. If you got one of those apps before it was removed from the store, you can still use it, and in this guide we show you how to do so on any iOS device.

How to Install an App Removed from the App Store

If you downloaded the app on your iOS device, you may still be able to install it. Since the app has been removed from the store, you won't be able to re-download it, though. If you delete the app, it's gone forever—unless you have a friend with the app or you backed it up with an older version of iTunes.

Apple removed the ability to sync apps to iOS from recent versions of iTunes. If your version of iTunes doesn't support app syncing anymore, this may be more trouble than its worth. You can downgrade to older versions of iTunes, but that's a slightly complex process and has wider implications. You may prefer just to live without the app you're trying to install.

Get the App From Someone You Know

If a friend or a family member has the app on their computer, you might be able to get it from them. They need to navigate through their hard drive to the folder where that their apps are stored.

On a Mac, this folder is at Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Mobile Applications.

Mobile Applications folder on macOS

On Windows, it's located at My Music > iTunes > iTunes Media > Mobile Applications.

Apps removed from the App Store can't be accessed via Family Sharing.

  1. Find the app you want. It can be emailed, or copied onto a USB drive or other removable storage media, or downloaded. Wherever you get the app from, drag and drop it into iTunes or into the Mobile Applications folder on your hard drive.

  2. If the app doesn't show up right away, quit and restart iTunes.

  3. Connect your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and sync it.

Sync Apps Through iTunes

You can back up a copy to your computer by syncing. When you sync your device, you'll be prompted to transfer purchases from the device to your computer. You can also do this manually by going to iTunes and clicking: File > Devices > Transfer Purchases. This should move the app to your computer.

Transfer Purchases submenu in File: Devices menu

If you have an older version of iTunes that has the Apps tab, click the iPhone icon under the playback controls in the top left of iTunes. Go to the Apps tab and look for the app. Click the Install button next to it. Then click Apply in the bottom right to install it on your iOS device.

The Biggest Obstacle to Installing Apps Removed from the App Store

Installing apps missing from the App Store has gotten much harder in the last few years and, for the average person, is now very difficult. It got harder because Apple removed downloading and managing apps from iTunes.

Because that feature is no longer present, the only way to officially install apps is through the App Store app. And, since the app you want isn't there anymore, you're kind of stuck. Jailbreaking and sideloading may help get around this problem, but they may be more trouble than it's worth.

There's another major obstacle to installing apps removed from the App Store: you need access to the app. If you want to install a removed app you don't already have, you'll have to find it elsewhere.

Reasons Why Apps Are Removed from the App Store

Apple doesn't (usually) pull apps from the App Store without good reason. Some of the most common reasons that apps get pulled include:

  • Violating Apple's rules for how you can develop apps or how apps can function.
  • Infringing copyright.
  • Being very low quality.
  • Promoting illegal, potentially illegal, or dangerous behavior.
  • Containing malware.
  • Being offensive.
  • Allowing the user to do something that Apple doesn't want (such as apps that allow free tethering, which let the user bypass purchasing tethering service from their phone carrier).

Does Apple Refund The Price of Removed Apps?

If an app you purchased has been pulled and you don't want to go through the hassle of installing it detailed above, you may want a refund. Apple generally doesn't like to give app refunds, but it will under certain circumstances.

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