How to Get Missing Apps Back on Your iPhone

Find missing apps like Safari, FaceTime, Camera & iTunes Store

get missing apps back
Phone image: fatesun/iStock

Every iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad comes pre-loaded with apps from Apple. These apps include the App Store, the Safari web browser, iTunes Store, Camera, and FaceTime. They're present on every iOS device, but sometimes these apps will be missing and you may wonder where they went.

There are three possible reasons why an app has disappeared. It could have been moved or deleted. That's obvious. Less obvious is that "missing" apps may have been hidden using the iOS's Content Restrictions feature.

This article explains each reason for a missing app and how to get your apps back.

All About Content Restrictions

Content Restrictions allows users to turn off certain built-in apps and features. When these restrictions are in use, those apps are hidden—at least until restrictions are turned off. Content Restrictions can be used to hide the following apps:

SafariiTunes Store
CameraApple Music Profiles & Posts
Siri & DictationiBooks Store
FaceTimePodcasts
AirDropNews
CarPlayInstalling Apps, Deleting Apps, and In-App Purchases

Restrictions can be used to disable a lot of other functions and features of the iOS—including Privacy settings, changing email accounts, Location Services, Game Center, and more— but none of those changes can hide apps.

Why Apps May Be Hidden

There are two groups of people who will generally use Content Restrictions to hide apps: parents and IT administrators.

Parents use Content Restrictions to prevent their children from accessing apps, settings, or content that they don't want them to.

This can be to prevent them from accessing mature content or from exposing themselves to online predators via social networking or photo sharing.

On the other hand, if you get your iOS device through your employer, apps may be missing thanks to settings instituted by your company's IT administrators.

They may be in place due to corporate policies about the kind of content you can access on your device or for security reasons.

How to Get Apps Back Using Content Restrictions

If your App Store, Safari, or other apps are missing, it's possible to get them back, but it may not be easy. First, make sure that the apps are truly missing, and not simply moved to another screen or in a folder. If they're not there, check to see if Content Restrictions are enabled in the Settings app. To turn them off, do the following:

  1. Tap Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Restrictions.
  4. If Restrictions are already turned on, you'll be asked to enter the passcode. This is where it gets hard. If you're a kid or a corporate employee, you may not know the passcode your parents or IT administrators used (which is, of course, the point). If you don't know it, you're basically out of luck. Sorry. If you do know it, though, enter it.
  5. To enable some apps while leaving others hidden, slide the slider next to the app you want to use to on/green.
  6. Tap Disable Restrictions to enable all apps and turn off Content Restrictions. Enter the passcode.

How To Search For Apps

Not all apps that appear to be missing are hidden or gone. They might just be moved.

After upgrades to the iOS, apps are sometimes moved to new folders. If you recently upgraded your operating system, try searching for the app you're looking for using the built-in Spotlight search tool.

Using Spotlight is easy. On the homescreen, swipe from the middle of the screen down and you'll reveal it. Then type the name of the app you're looking for. If it's installed on your device, it will appear.

How To Get Deleted Apps Back

Your apps could also be missing because they've been deleted. As of iOS 10,  Apple allows you to delete some pre-installed apps (though technically those apps are just hidden, not deleted).

Earlier versions of the iOS didn't allow this.

To learn how to reinstall built-in apps that have been deleted, read How to Download Apps You've Already Purchased.

Getting Apps Back After Jailbreaking

If you've jailbroken your phone, it's possible that you have truly deleted some of your phone's built-in apps. If that's the case, you'll need to restore your phone to factory settings in order to get those apps back. This removes the jailbreak, but it's the only way to get those apps back.