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Hey, where’d that app go? The one you were just about to use? It was right there, and now it’s gone. Well, now it’s just an app with a little cloud logo. What happened here? What you just experienced is known as iPhone’s automatic app offloading. It’s far more frustrating than helpful for many Apple users. Thankfully, it’s an optional feature, though it appears as a default. And, you can stop iPhone’s automatic app offloading.

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ve no doubt run into this issue before. While it was no doubt intended to be useful, working to free up storage space on your iPhone without you even having to take action, there are times when it’s harmful. Let’s say you need to use the app but have no internet connection to re-install it properly. Worse yet, let’s say you want to use the app, but it’s been completely removed from the App Store. For these reasons and more, it’s worth knowing how to stop iPhone’s automatic app offloading. Here’s how to do it, complete with photos to illustrate.

What’s the Point of iPhone’s Automatic App Offloading?

First introduced with the release of iOS 11 on September 19th, 2017, iPhone’s automatic app offloading was a somewhat quiet feature among a slate of much more publicized ones. However, it has proved to be one of the most frequently used features to hit the iPhone in the past five years. Despite its widespread implementation, many have problems with this automatic process being made a default instead of an optional thing.

Apple initially described the feature as a way to free up storage taken up by little-used apps without losing the app’s data like you would with an outright deletion. With iPhone’s automatic app offloading, users don’t even have to make the conscious decision to offload the app. Apple looks at your iPhone usage and offloads apps it determines you don’t use often enough to keep. After automatically offloading the app, Apple then allows you to re-install the app and have all your data readily available as if it had never been offloaded to begin with.

As mentioned above, there are some inherent problems with this seemingly helpful feature. For one, the iPhone could automatically offload an app that is no longer available to re-download from the App Store. In this instance, Apple has essentially taken something away from you that you can’t get back. What’s more, the phone could automatically offload an essential app that you do not have the storage or internet connection required to re-download it again. This can be particularly frustrating, especially in a time crunch (such as with a ticketing app). Here’s how to stop it.

How to Stop iPhone’s Automatic App Offloading

If you have iOS 11 or later, you’ve no doubt encountered iPhone’s automatic app offloading before. Here’s a step-by-step guide to stopping this feature, complete with photos.

Step One: Go to Settings

Scroll to the App Store icon on the Settings page.

As with any great iPhone hack, you will want to start in the Settings app. While you can search through the iPhone for Offload Unused Apps at the top of the Settings home, you can also get to the relevant page by scrolling down to App Store, then scrolling to the bottom, where you’ll see Offload Unused Apps.

Step Two: Toggle iPhone’s Automatic App Offloading On or Off

Toggle the Offload Unused Apps feature On or Off.

From this page, you can turn the Offload Unused Apps feature On or Off. By default, your iPhone will have this feature switched On. To disable iPhone’s automatic app offloading, tap the switch so that it displays gray instead of green. This will restore all apps and data previously offloaded from your iPhone.

Bonus: How to Manually Offload an App

Say you’ve turned off your iPhone’s automatic app offloading but now find yourself needing storage. Don’t worry. You don’t need to turn the iPhone’s automatic app offloading back on again. Simply offload an app manually. This way, you can control what is downloaded and what should be offloaded. Here’s how to do it.

Step One: Go to Settings

A list of apps and the amount of storage they take up.

To manually offload an app, we’re once again going to return to Settings. From here, go to General, then Storage. Scroll down, and you’ll see a list of your apps and the storage they currently take up.

Step Two: Tap an App and Offload

Tap Offload App to manually offload.

Next, tap the app you wish to offload. Let’s take Airbnb, for example. If you are not going for a trip soon, you can offload the app to free up storage without deleting it.

Select the app from the list and tap Offload App to offload the selected app. The iPhone will ask you to confirm, at which point it will offload.

NEXT UP…

How to Stop iPhone’s Automatic App Offloading (With Photos) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why did my iPhone offload apps?

iPhones with iOS 11 or later will automatically offload apps it deems as too large or not used frequently enough to remain on your phone. It does this to save you storage.

Can you turn off the iPhone's automatic app offloading?

Yes, you can turn off the iPhone’s automatic app offloading in your iPhone’s settings.

When did iPhone start automatically offloading apps?

Automatic app offloading began with iOS 13 in 2017.

Can you manually offload apps on an iPhone?

Yes, you can manually offload apps in your storage settings.

What's the difference between offloading and deleting an app on iPhone?

Offloading keeps the app on your home screen and saves all your user data while removing everything else until you redownload. Deleting, on the other hand, removes everything from the iPhone and home screen.

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