Your iPhone Has a Setting That Makes It Declutter Itself

updated Sep 19, 2022
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Does it seem like you’re always running low on iPhone storage even though you’ve got the latest and greatest phone model? Is your iPhone operating more slowly than before? No, it’s not just those annoying pop-ups. If, after deleting items that occupy a lot of real estate on your device you’re still running low on space, it may be time to Marie Kondo your apps. Not surprisingly, the iPhone has a built-in trick called “offload unused apps” to streamline the app-deleting process, freeing up precious memory on your device when you need it most. 

Quick Overview

How to Offload Unused Apps

Go into your iPhone’s settings, then navigate to “General” and “iPhone storage.” From there, click on “Enable” next to “Offload unused apps” and prepare to magically have more phone storage.

What is “Offload App” on iPhone?

“Offload unused apps” is a native iPhone settings option, and it automatically gets rid of apps on your iPhone you don’t use after a period of inactivity and when your phone detects it’s running low on space.

The ability to offload means you’ll not only maximize your phone storage but be more mindful of which apps you’re actually using and which things you really need (or in Kondo’s terms, which ones spark joy). 

If you’re unsure about whether or not you’ll use an app again in the future, no worries; the apps aren’t deleted permanently from your phone. All your data and documents will remain on your device — and the apps themselves just turn into grayed-out icons on your home screen — making it easy to re-download and jump back in whenever you want to.

Also, if you don’t want your phone to automatically delete certain apps (even if you don’t use them a lot), you can set the offload function for certain ones. 

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How do you automatically offload unused apps?

Here, we’ll share the steps you’ll need to take in order to ensure your iPhone is set up to automatically offload apps you no longer use. 

  1. First, make sure your iOS is updated to the most recent operating system (this feature works with iOS 11, released in 2017, and new versions).
  2. Go to Settings > General > iPhone storage.
  3. Click “Enable” next to “Offload Unused Apps.” 

Once the setting is activated, you’ll magically have space for more media on your phone. On this screen, you can also see an estimate of how much space you’ll save by turning the feature on.

If you decide you want to use an app that’s been offloaded, just tap the grayed-out icon, and it will re-download, with all your info still there (assuming the app is still available in the App store).