How to Install Apps Removed from the App Store

install apps removed from the app store
image credit: jyotirathod/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Apple is famous for its strict—and sometimes seemingly capricious—rules around what apps it will allow in the App Store. 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. The good news is, if you managed to get one of those apps before it was removed from the store, you can still use it.

Dealing with removed apps isn't quite the same as handling other apps. For instance, they don't show up as available for re-download in your iTunes account after they've been taken down. So how do you install an app that's been removed from the App Store?

The process actually isn't terribly hard (though there is one big obstacle). You just have to know where to look for and put files.

Installing an App Removed from the App Store

  1. The first step is the hardest: you need to have the app. It may be in the Apps section of iTunes on your computer if you downloaded it there or if you downloaded it to your phone and then synced it. If so, no problem. If you want to install a removed app you don't already have, you'll have to find it elsewhere (see Step 3). 

  2. If you downloaded the app on your iOS device, you should be able to use it. But make sure you back up a copy to your computer by syncing. Since the app has been pulled from the store, you won't be able to redownload it. If you delete it, it's gone forever—unless you back it up. When you sync your device, you'll be prompted to transfer purchases from the device to your computer. If not, click: 

    • File
    • Devices
    • Transfer Purchases. This should move the app to your computer.
  3. If a friend or a family member has the app, you can get it from them. It won't work through Family Sharing since that uses the App Store. If they have it on their computer, though, they can get it to you. In that case, they need to navigate through their hard drive to the folder where that their apps are stored in.

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

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

  4. Find the app you want. It can be emailed or copied onto a USB drive or other removable storage media. Get the app onto your computer via email or USB drive, then drag and drop it into iTunes or into the Mobile Applications folder on your hard drive.

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

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

  7. Click the iPhone icon beneath 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.

An app downloaded using one iTunes account can only be used by other devices that use the same Apple ID. So, if you use one iTunes account and your brother uses another, you can't share apps. You can only share apps if you and your spouse, or you and your kids, etc., use the same Apple ID on your iOS devices. Cracking apps to share them across Apple IDs is stealing from the developers and shouldn't be done.

Reasons Why Apps Are Removed from the App Store

Apple doesn't (generally) 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 across computers detailed above, you may want to seek out a refund. Apple generally doesn't like to give app refunds, but it will under certain circumstances. To learn more, read How to Get a Refund from iTunes.