The default iOS apps on an iPhone home screen.
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Apple doesn’t allow you to completely hide apps on your iPhone or iPad like you can on Android. This is most likely for security reasons. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make an app more difficult to find.

You Can’t Completely Hide an App on iOS

Apple has never provided the ability to hide an app on iOS or iPadOS. The only way to completely remove an app from your iPhone or iPad is to delete it. To delete an app, tap and hold its icon until the “X” appears, and then tap it.

We have a few tricks that will hide an app without removing it. These include removing the app from Siri shortcuts and suggestions, disabling features like notifications, and burying the icon in a folder far from prying eyes.

Exclude the App from Search and Siri Suggestions

Siri Suggestions appear on the Today screen and next to the Spotlight search field on your iPhone. If you use search to find apps regularly (and you should—just pull down on your Home screen to reveal the search box), the app you want to hide might be suggested from time to time. Or, it might surface when you search for other apps.

Siri Suggestsions in iOS.

If you use an app a lot, Siri will frequently recommend it. Apple’s assistant will also learn from the app and make suggestions across other apps. When you hit the “Share” button in one app, you often see a list of recommended destinations that Siri has learned based on usage, for example.

Then there are search results. Many apps allow iOS to index searchable databases so you can find documents or notes quickly in native iOS search. This could give away much more information than a simple Siri suggestion.

iOS System search results from indexed apps.

Head to Settings > Siri and Search and find the app you want to “hide” from the long list of installed apps on your device. Disable all options on this screen to see one more appear: Show App.

Disable “Show App” to exclude the app from all search results and suggestion screens. To find the app in the future, you have to find its icon somewhere on your home screen or in its folders, and then launch it from there.

Exclude an App from Siri Suggestions and Search Results

The Settings app itself doesn’t follow these rules. If you pull down the list of options in the iOS Settings app, you see a search field. Here, you can search for functions and installed apps to adjust their preferences quickly. Any app you try to hide or exclude will always appear in Settings and its search field.

Bury the App in a Folder

You’ll probably want to strike a balance between covert and convenient when you decide where to put the app icon. If you use the app a lot, you want to make sure it’s accessible within a few taps. If it’s a once-a-week type deal, then you can get a little more creative.

You can create folders on iOS by tapping and holding an app icon until all the icons on the screen wiggle. Then, tap and hold an app and hover over another app. A folder appears, and you can name it whatever you want. To get rid of the folder, remove all but the last app.

A folder of apps on iOS.

For best results, use a folder with plenty of apps in it—ideally, enough that it spans multiple pages. If you want to hide the app from others who use your phone, pick a boring folder full of utilities, rather than a folder full of games.

I settled on a folder called “Utilities” that had apps like TeamViewer, Telegram, and a PDF converter in it. Other ideas include a “Work” folder, or one full of “Shopping” apps or “Office” tools. A “Health” folder might also be sufficiently boring enough to deter snoopers.

Disable App Notifications

An app’s notifications still appear even after you exclude it from search and other suggestions. Head to Settings > Notifications, and then scroll down until you find the app. Tap it, and then disable the “Allow Notifications” option to prevent the app from showing any notifications on your phone.

The "Notifications" option for Messenger on iOS.

You can also simply choose to hide notifications from the lock screen and disable banners. If you leave “Notification Center” active, you’ll only see notifications for an app when you manually check for them. If you’re serious about hiding an app, it’s best to disable all the settings.

Hide Downloads from Your App Store History

If you delete an app from your iPhone or iPad, Apple’s App Store will still remember you downloaded it. It’ll appear on your “Purchased” tab, even if the app was a free download.

Thankfully, the one area where Apple does allow you to hide apps is in your purchase history. To see a list of previously purchased apps, first launch the App Store, and then tap the “Today” tab. Tap your user icon in the top-right corner, and then tap “Purchased.”

You can now scroll through a list of the free and paid apps you previously downloaded. To hide one, swipe left on it and tap “Hide” to make it disappear. You can also search for any specific apps you want to hide using the field at the top of the screen.

The "Purchased" screen in the App Store.

Once you hide it, the app disappears. If you want to download it again, you’ll have to tap “Get” and reauthorize it, rather than tapping the iCloud download icon as per other purchased apps.

Use Dummy Apps to Hide Files and Notes

If you’re trying to hide files and notes, you might want to use a “dummy” app to hide content in plain sight. These apps appear to be something benign, like a calculator. Their true purpose, though, is to store files and information without raising suspicion.

Apple isn’t fond of deceptive practices, so these apps are always described as such in its listings. Dummy apps are hard to spot. They use passable app icons alongside names that won’t arouse suspicion.

If you like the calculator disguise, check out Calculator#, Private Calculator, or Turbo Vault. Secret Folder Vault is a locked folder where you can store photos, passwords, and more. In Apple Notes, you can lock Notes with Face or Touch ID.

All of these apps allow you to hide content from snoopers, even if they gain access to your unlocked phone or tablet.

Hide Photos and Videos in the Photos App

If you want to hide an app from your Photos library, you can do so without any extra software. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly secure. Simply find the picture or video you want to hide, tap share, and then scroll down and choose “Hide” from the list.

Options to hide images and videos in the Photos App.

The photo or video is placed in an album called “Hidden” on the Albums tab in the Photos app. This album is completely unprotected, though, so anyone can find the photos you hide if they look for them.

The purpose of this feature is to remove risqué photos from your main Photos timeline.

Hide Core System Apps via Screen Time

Screen Time is Apple’s tool for managing how much time you spend on your device. The service also incorporates parental controls, some of which you can use to make changes to the way your device functions.

The "Allowed Apps" menu on iOS.

Screen Time can hide certain built-in system apps but not those from third-parties. Head to Settings > Screen Time, and then tap “Content and Privacy Restrictions.” Tap “Allowed Apps,” and then disable any core system apps you want to hide.

Hide Apps with a Jailbreak Tweak

Jailbreaking is the act of installing custom firmware on your iOS device to circumvent Apple’s restrictions. It’s generally not a good idea to jailbreak your device because it puts it at risk from malware. It also requires that you run outdated versions of iOS and voids any warranty you have left.

After considering all of that, if you still want to jailbreak your device, it allows you to access tweaks and features Apple will never add to iOS. One of those is the ability to hide apps with a neat little tweak called XB-Hide. You can find it in default Cydia repositories as a free download. According to the Cydia listing, the tweak currently works with jailbroken devices running iOS 11 or 12.

Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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