How to Hide iOS’ Built-In Apps in iOS 9 and Earlier

By Chris Hoffman on March 30th, 2016

defaultapps

One of the most annoying things about the iPhone and iPad is the inability to hide built-in apps like Tips, Stocks, and News. iOS 10 finally fixed this annoyance, but if you’re stuck on iOS 9 or earlier, you still have a few other workarounds.

If you have a relatively recent device and the latest software update (iOS 10), you can use the built-in method for hiding these apps. This article is only for users with older devices still running iOS 9 or earlier.

The Easy Way: Make a Junk App Folder

Most seasoned iPhone users hide the included apps they don’t use in a folder. Just make a folder and place all the apps you don’t want to use in that folder. All those unused apps will collectively take up a single icon on your home screen, rather than potentially an entire screen of icons.

To get started, just long-press any app icon on your home screen. You’ll switch to “edit mode,” where you can normally uninstall apps by tapping an x — but that x won’t appear on top of Apple’s pre-installed applications.

To create a folder, drag an app’s icon onto another app’s icon. Those two apps will be combined in a folder. Drag other app icons onto the folder to add them. Tap the folder and you’ll be able to name it something like “Extras,” “Apple,” “Junk,” or whatever other name you want. Press the Home button when you’re done.

Thankfully, Apple now allows the Newsstand app to be tucked away into a folder. Previous versions of iOS forced you to keep it on your homescreen. Folders can also hold many more app icons — fifteen pages of icons at nine icons a page means you can have up to 135 apps in a single folder.

You can hide this folder out of the way, too. In edit mode, long-press the folder and then drag it to the right onto another screen. You could have all your most-used apps on the left-most home screen and hide the folder with junk apps on the right-most home screen.

Yes, those apps will continue using valuable storage on your iPhone or iPad. There’s no way to remove them completely without jailbreaking. If you’re hiding an included app like the Mail app because you never want to use it, you may also want to go into Settings and ensure that app isn’t automatically downloading emails or doing anything else in the background. This will save you some battery power and mobile data usage.

If you want to go even further, you can nest this folder inside another folder in iOS 9. To do this, move a folder to the top row of your home screen. Next, create a second folder with your hidden apps inside it. Tap and hold that folder and while you’re holding onto it, tap the space in between the top folder and the menu bar with your other finger repeatedly. Eventually, your hidden apps folder should go into the folder at the top of your screen. You now have a folder within a folder–perfect for hiding those apps you never want to see even deeper.

The Hard Way: Truly Hide the Icons with a Configuration Profile

There is another way, that actually hides the icons from your home screen entirely. However, this process requires you set up your iPhone or iPad as a “supervised” device and create a configuration profile using Apple Configurator. You’ll need a Mac to do this, as modern versions of Apple Configurator only run on OS X. Your device will be wiped when you “supervise” it, so you’ll have to set it up from scratch afterwards, too.

Put another way: this process is really intended for larger organizations and not average iPhone and iPad users, so Apple hasn’t just provided an easy Settings screen for configuring this.

As a result, this method probably isn’t for most people. But if you really want those icons gone, here’s how to do it.

Step One: Create a Configuration Profile

First, you’ll need to create a custom configuration profile. Open the Mac App Store on your Mac, search for “Apple Configurator,” and install the free app.

Launch Apple Configurator and head to File > New Profile. On the General screen, enter a name to help you remember what the profile is for. You could name the profile “Hide Apps,” for example. You can customize the other information here, if you like, but it’s not necessary.

Click the “Restrictions” category under General, click “Configure,” and then click the “Apps” tab.

Under “Restrict App Usage (supervised only),” click the drop-down box and select “Do not allow some apps.” Click the “+” button and you’ll see a box that allows you to search for and add apps you want to block. Type the name of an app you want to hide and select the app from the list.

For example, let’s say you wanted to block the included “Tips” app. Just search for “Tips” here and you’ll see an app named “Tips” that’s a “System App.” This means it’s part of the iOS operating system. You’ll also see “Store Apps” here–this allows you to prevent users from installing and running specific apps from Apple’s App Store.

Repeat this process to add all the included apps you want to block. When you’re done, click “File” and select “Save.” Save your configuration profile to a file.

Step Two: Supervise Your Device and Install the Profile

Warning: This process wipes your iPhone or iPad. You may want to manually create a backup before continuing.

You’ll need to disable the “Find My iPhone” or “Find My iPad” option in under Settings > iCloud on your device before you wipe it. If you don’t, you’ll just see an error message when you try.

Once you do this, connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac using its included cable and launch Apple Configurator. Double-click the connected device on the main Apple Configurator screen, then click the “Prepare” button at the top of the screen to get started.

Go through the configuration process, selecting “Manual” configuration and “Do not enroll in MDM” on the first few screens. These options are for larger organizations, not for configuring a single device or a few devices.

When you reach the Supervise Devices screen, be sure to activate the “Supervise devices” checkbox. Leave the “Allow devices to pair with other computers” option enabled or you won’t be able to pair your device with other computers.

Continue through the wizard afterwards, using the default settings the wizard provides and generating a new supervision identity. It will eventually “Prepare” your device, wiping it and setting it back up as a device that’s “supervised” by your Mac.

When the process is finished, it’s time to install the configuration profile. Double-click the device in the Apple Configurator window, click “Profiles” in the sidebar, click the “Add” button, and then select the configuration profile file you created earlier.

Note that you can add the configuration profile to an unsupervised device, but it just won’t do anything. This particular setting will only take effect if your device is supervised.

When you’re finished, you should find that your iPhone or iPad has the correct apps completely hidden from your home screen. On iOS 9.3, you’ll see a lock screen message telling you your device is supervised by the organization name you entered when setting this up. However, it won’t actually be further monitored or restricted unless you configure other settings via one or more additional configuration profiles.

Alternatively: Jailbreak Your iPhone or iPad

Lastly, we’d be remiss not to mention the third option: jailbreaking. No, we don’t recommend jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad unless you know what you’re doing and really want to tweak your phone in a way that Apple doesn’t support. You give up quite a bit when you jailbreak, including timely access to updates–new versions of iOS often close jailbreak holes, so you’ll often need to wait quite a while to upgrade or you’ll lose your jailbreak tweaks.

But jailbreaking is the only way to actually, completely remove Apple’s included apps. If you’re already jailbreaking, go ahead and remove them–but, if you’re not already jailbreaking, it’s definitely not worth jailbreaking to hide the Apple Watch app. Just tuck it away in a folder along with all the other apps you don’t want to use and get on with your life.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 03/30/16
More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!