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Deleting Apps on Your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV

Deleting Apps on Your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV

published by Chad Evans
January 2, 2023 at 7:06 p.m. PST
  • Shortly after the iPhone’s 2007 launch, Apple debuted the App Store, providing software for its iconic smartphone.
  • Apple features over 2 million apps in its iOS App Store.
  • More than two years after the iOS App Store’s debut, Apple launched the macOS AppStore.
  • Although you can delete most apps on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch, some are deeply integrated with the operating system and cannot be removed.

Why Delete Apps on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV?

Apple’s devices have come down in price; however, the company still charges a premium for internal storage upgrades. For example, the difference between a 128GB iPhone 14 Pro Max and the 256GB model is $100. In reality, the difference in storage chips is only a few dollars.

If you don’t believe me, look at Apple TV. Since Apple earns most Apple TV revenue from services, they sell the product closer to cost. The difference between a 64GB Apple TV 4K and a 128GB model is only $20. Apple is still earning a profit because the actual cost difference between a 64GB and a 128GB model is only a few dollars.

Because Apple charges so much for additional storage space, many people, including me, tend to buy the lowest storage option. My iPhone 14 Pro Max only has 128GB of storage, and it’s unlikely I’ll fill it up.

If you take lots of photos and videos with your iPhone, you may quickly run out of free space on your device. You can upload your photos and videos to iCloud or other cloud storage solutions, but these aren’t free.

One of the best ways to free up space on your iPhone is to delete unused apps. Even if you paid for them, you can always re-install them later. Since some apps, particularly games, can take up gigabytes of space, a few strategic app deletions may provide lots of room.

It’s also advisable that you keep some free space on your iPhone. Like most operating systems, iOS uses free storage space as extended memory or swap space. Also, SSDs need free space to overwrite old data. Most iOS experts, including me, say you should keep 1GB of free space on your iPhone. The same rule applies to other Apple devices, including the iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

If your iPhone is performing slowly, it may be that the solid-state drive (SSD) is near capacity. If this is the case, deleting a few apps can free up space and restore performance to a slow iPhone.

Before we look at how to delete apps on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or other devices, let’s first check how much free space you have left. It’s better to keep your apps installed if you have enough storage capacity. Of course, you may just want to clean up any unused apps.

How to Check Available Storage Space on Your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV

Before you decide on deleting apps, you may want to check if it’s necessary. Most apps only take up a little space. Of course, if you wish to tidy up your Home screens or delete unused apps, you may want to delete apps even if you have plenty of storage space available.

Checking for available storage space is easy. Let’s look at how to do it on each Apple device:

  • iPhone: Settings > General > iPhone Storage
  • iPad: Settings > General > iPad Storage
  • Mac: Settings > General > Storage
  • Apple Watch: Launch iOS Watch App > General > Storage
  • Apple TV: Apple TV doesn’t offer information about available storage space in the Settings app. Please follow these instructions to find available storage space on your Apple TV.

If you have plenty of space on your iPhone or other Apple device, you might not want to delete anything. Of course, sometimes there are so many apps that they detract from the user experience, especially if you interact with Home screen icons. (I prefer to launch apps with Spotlight or Siri because I have so many!)

If you have apps installed that you’re just not using, it doesn’t make sense to keep them around. Let’s take a look at deleting apps on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or Apple TV.

Deleting Apps on Your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV

Before we begin, it’s important to note that you cannot delete some iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps. For example, Apple won’t let you delete the Phone app on your iPhone, for good reason. You can remove it from the Home screen, but it will launch every time you get a phone call, and it still resides in your App Library.

Similarly, Apple won’t let you delete other core apps critical to the operating system. You simply can’t use a Mac without Finder. You’re not even allowed to fully quit the Finder app on a Mac because it’s a critical part of the operating system’s shell.

All of the apps you cannot delete on your Apple devices:

  • iPhone: App Store, Camera, Clock, Find My, Health, Messages, Phone, Photos, Safari, Settings, Wallet
  • iPad: App Store, Camera, Clock, Find My, Messages, Photos, Safari, Settings, Wallet
  • Mac: Finder, Settings, Safari, Messages, App Store, Stickies (and every app in the Other folder)
  • Apple Watch: Messages, Heart Rate
  • Apple TV: Apple TV, App Store, Music, Movies, TV Shows, Search, Computers, Settings, Photos

macOS is a special case. Apple implements System Integrity Protection, preventing you from uninstalling critical first-party apps.

You can delete some of the apps listed as not eligible for deletion through the Terminal app. Nonetheless, it’s not a good idea. It could complicate future macOS updates. In general, when it comes to the Mac, if you didn’t install the software, don’t delete it.

Now that we’ve examined all of the apps you cannot delete, there shouldn’t be any surprise when you try to uninstall an app, and there’s no delete button. These apps are critical to core functionality, so Apple won’t let you delete them.

Here’s how to delete apps on every Apple device:

iPhone:

  1. Hold your finger down on the app. A pop-up menu appears with options.
  2. Tap on Remove App. A message appears asking for confirmation.
  3. Tap Delete to remove the app.

If you wish to delete multiple apps from your iPhone, Apple provides a more straightforward method:

  1. Hold your finger down on the Home screen until all of the icons start to jiggle.
  2. Tap on the delete icon on the top left of each app. iOS will ask if you want to delete the app, among other options.
  3. Tap on delete, and iOS will remove your app.

One benefit of the latter method is that you can see exactly which apps Apple won’t let you delete. The app won’t display a delete button if you can’t delete it.

It’s also important to mention that you can remove an app from the Home screen and leave it installed. Although the app icon isn’t on the Home screen, it appears in the App Library, which you can access by swiping left to the last Home screen.

iPad:

You can delete apps from the iPad using the same methods as an iPhone. Either hold your finger on the app to delete one app or on the Home screen to delete multiple apps.

Mac:

Deleting apps on a Mac is remarkably easy compared to other computers:

  1. Launch Finder and click on the Applications tab in the left panel.
  2. Right-click on the app you wish to delete. A pop-up menu appears.
  3. Select “Move to Trash.” A dialog box appears, prompting you to enter the administrative password.
  4. After authentication, macOS moves your app to the Trash “folder”.

macOS will eventually delete items in the Trash folder, but if you need the space immediately, click on Trash. The Trash folder will appear. Click on the “Empty” button on the top right to permanently delete everything in this folder.

Apple Watch:

Since the Apple Watch is tightly coupled with your iPhone, there are two ways to remove apps: directly on the smartwatch or using the iOS Watch app. Since it’s easiest to do it on watchOS, let’s look at that method first:

  1. Display your apps by pressing the Digital Crown.
  2. Press and hold your finger on your Apple Watch’s screen. The View Options screen appears.
  3. Tap Edit Apps.
  4. Tap the “x” (delete) button on any app you wish to uninstall.
  5. Press the Digital Crown when you’re done deleting apps.

As with the iPhone and iPad, Apple won’t let you delete every app. You can’t remove it if it doesn’t have a delete button.

Apple TV:

Since Apple TV doesn’t have a touch screen, you’ll need to use the included remote to delete tvOS apps. There are two Siri remotes — a first-generation model and a newer second-generation unit. The process is essentially the same; however, the newer Siri remote features a clickpad instead of a touch surface.

Assuming you’re on the Home screen of your Apple TV, navigate to the app icon you wish to delete. Press and hold either the clickpad center or touch surface of your Siri remote. All of the app icons will start to jiggle. Press the Play/Pause button. A menu of options appears. Choose Delete and confirm.

We’ve looked at how to delete apps on virtually every Apple device. These apps aren’t gone forever. Apple records your purchases and app installations, even if they were free. If you ever decide to install the app again, simply visit the App Store and re-install it.

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