How to Offload Unused Apps on iPhone

Delete an iPhone app but keep all data intact

What to Know

  • To automatically offload apps, go to Settings > App Store > Offload Unused Apps.
  • To manually offload apps, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage > Offload Unused Apps.
  • To reinstall the offloaded app, tap on the app icon to download it again. 

This article explains how to use the Offload Unused Apps feature on iPhones running iOS 11 and later and how you can use it to avoid the Storage Almost Full alert.

How to Automatically Offload Unused Apps on an iPhone

iPhone recommendations ensure you always have enough space for your next download. If you don’t want to drill down to each app’s storage and free some space, then Offload Unused Apps can work in the background to recover space while keeping the app data backed up. 

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Select App Store > Offload Unused Apps.

  3. Toggle the Offload Unused Apps switch to on.

    iPhone with Settings, App Store, and "Offload Unused Apps" highlighted

How to Manually Offload Unused Apps on an iPhone

Use the manual option to offload apps one at a time. It can also be an excellent way to remove addictive social apps from the screen while keeping their data.

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Select General > iPhone Storage.

  3. Go to Offload Unused Apps and select Enable

    iPhone settings with General, iPhone Storage, and "Offload Unused Apps" highlighted
  4. Go through the list of apps and choose an app to offload manually. In this example, we'll use the Google Assistant app.

    Remember, manual offloading is optional as iOS automatically offloads unused apps when it’s low on storage. 

  5. Tap Offload App, then tap Offload App again to confirm.

    iPhone settings with Assistant app highlighted, then Offload App highlighted

What Does It Mean to Offload an App on an iPhone?

The iPhone optimizes storage space with a three-pronged strategy. Users can trash documents and files, remove an app with all its data, or offload an app. The Offload Unused Apps feature is a nice compromise when you want to free up space taken up by an app but keep its data. 

If anyone asks, “Does offloading an app free up space?” the answer is yes. 

Offloading an app is different from deleting an app on an iPhone. The Offload Unused Apps feature frees up the storage used by the apps but keeps all documents and data intact. It helps you avoid the monotony of configuring an app from scratch. The app's icon and user data will remain on the iPhone. The icon will display a cloud with a downward arrow. When you want to use it again, tap the icon and download it again.

Storage space is necessary to keep iOS updated. So, this feature working under the hood gives you the flexibility to uninstall apps without losing data. As it only removes unused apps, you shouldn’t miss them too much. 

Reinstating the Offloaded App

When you download the app again, it should be available on the App Store. You also might have to sign in again with your username and password if required. An offloaded app displays the usual icon but not the cloud icon in Spotlight.

Tap the icon to launch the app from the search results, and iOS will display an alert that you’re trying to open an app that is not currently installed. Tap OK to download the app. There’s no download progress indicator, so you have to go to the last known location of the app. 

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