Smartphone app stores are well established at this point, and as much as we love to see new apps become available, that also means the inevitable: sometimes apps go away. Here’s what you can do if your favorites disappear.

Why Do Apps Disappear?

Before we talk about how you can get apps that are no longer available to download from your phone’s respective app store, let’s first talk about why apps get removed in the first place.

Generally, this is a call by the developer; the app gets pulled because they no longer support it. Case in point: Epic Games recently pulled all versions of Infinity Blade from the iOS App Store for that exact reason. The company claimed lack of resources to support the games “at a level that meets [their] current standards.” Makes sense—if you’re going to do something, might as well do it right, after all.

More often than not, this is how it goes. The app becomes more trouble than it’s worth to continue supporting, its features get moved into another app from the same developer (and there’s no need for redundancy), or the developer is dissolved completely.

The good news is that if the app you’re looking for isn’t available for any of those reasons, you should still be able to re-download it if you’ve previously had it downloaded (this is especially true for paid apps).

That said, it’s worth noting that if the app has is removed by the app store company itself—Apple in the case of the iOS App Store or Google for the Play Store—then it’s most likely gone forever. If they pulled it, there’s a good reason for that so you can’t expect to get it back easily.

If the app is no longer in the app store, however, here’s the easiest way to get it back for both Android or iOS devices.

How to Download Apps That Are No Longer in the iOS App Store

If you’re an iOS user, your options are pretty limited—you have to get your apps from the App Store. Fortunately, if you bought or downloaded an app that is no longer available, you can probably still grab it.

First, fire up the App Store, then tap on the account icon in the top right corner.

From there, tap on “Purchased.”

To see all the apps that aren’t already on your phone or iPad (which is the likely scenario if you’re trying to pull something that’s no longer in the App Store), tap on “Not on this iPhone/iPad.”

From there, you can scroll through the list to find the app you want to install, then tap the little cloud icon on the right to download it. Easy peasy.

How to Download Apps That Are No Longer in Google Play

While you only have one option to download deprecated apps on iOS, there are a couple of ways to do this on Android: get it from the Google Play Store or download the APK and sideload the app. While the former is the most straightforward way, the latter offers a way to install apps that have been removed from Google Play completely.

How to Install Removed Apps from Google Play

First, open the Play Store, then open the menu by tapping the three lines in the top left (inside the search box).

From there, choose “My Apps & Games.”

Once this menu opens, choose “Library.” This will list every app you’ve ever downloaded from Google Play.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to search this list, so if you’re looking for an older app, it could take quite a while to find it by scrolling through.

The good news is that you have another option: sideload the APK.

How to Sideload Apps That Are No Longer in Google Play

Sorting through an insane list of apps can be a huge pain, so in that case, it can be easier to sideload the app.

If you’ve never sideloaded an app before you’ll probably want to take a look at our full tutorial. It’s not a complicated process, but how you do it will depend on which version of Android your phone is running.

RELATED: How to Sideload Apps on Android

If you have sideloaded apps before and just need a good place to find something that is no longer in the Play Store, APK Mirror is your answer. It’s the best place on the net to grab Android apps to sideload. It’s a trustworthy source that only features free apps (there are no pirated apps on APK Mirror), and every app is legitimate. It’s also worth mentioning that there are several versions of some apps depending on the model of your phone and the hardware details. If you’re not sure which APK you should install, check out this primer.

So, for example, if let’s say you want to install Skitch (a now-defunct Evernote app). You’d simply grab the APK from APK Mirror and install it on your device using the above instructions. Nothing to it!

RELATED: How to Find Your Android Device’s Info for Correct APK Downloads

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the News Editor for How-To Geek and Review Geek. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 posts and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
Read Full Bio »