Use Restrictions To Hide Unwanted Apps On Your iPhone [iOS Tips]

Restrictions

If you’ve ever handed your phone over to someone to let them use it as a (gasp) telephone, you’ve felt that moment of frisson where you wonder, “oh, man, what if they see that certain app? What will they think of me?” I’m not going to judge you; we all have apps we’d rather not have people see.

Luckily for all of us, then, that there’s a couple of neat ways to hide those apps on our devices, using Apple’s built in Restrictions system. Here’s how.

Launch your Settings app with a tap, then head into the General section. Scroll down to the Auto-Lock and Passcode Lock section and tap on Restrictions. If you’ve previously set up a password for this, tap it in now. If not, type in a memorable passcode twice to enable Restrictions.

Once in there, tap the toggle switch to OFF for all the apps you want to hide. You can hide Safari, Camera, FaceTime, iTunes, or the iBookstore here. To get them back showing up on your home screen, you’ll need to head back into Restrictions and set them to ON.

The second, more extreme way to hide stuff is to use the Allowed Content area in Restrictions. Scroll down to the Allowed Content section in Restrictions, and tap on Apps. Here, you can set the iPhone to only show specifically rated apps (kind of slick if you have kids), or you can tap the Don’t Allow Apps button to disallow anything you’ve ever downloaded to your phone.

This will make your home screen only show the apps that came with your iPhone (and any bookmarks you’ve saved to your home screen)–perfect for those moments you just want to let your buddy use your phone in the bar but not have access to your entire history of questionably downloaded apps.

To turn them back on, head into the Allow Content section again, and reset things to Allow All Apps. Note, however, that this will kill all your careful folder management, so be careful. Sometimes it might be best to just not loan your phone out.

  • APPL13D5C13NC3

    i wish you could hide pictures without a seperate app ;)

  • kriswm

    Warning: enabling restrictions completely messed up all my homescreen apps. all my folders were deleted and all my apps are in complete disarray. up is down. some apps are on my phone, but not showing on my homescreen.

  • roblef

    Warning: enabling restrictions completely messed up all my homescreen apps. all my folders were deleted and all my apps are in complete disarray. up is down. some apps are on my phone, but not showing on my homescreen.

    Yikes! I noted in the last paragraph that this might happen. It looks like iOS puts all the apps back in alphabetical order.

  • StephanSann

    I think just to loan out your phone for a call this is far to laborious. Why not use guided access?

  • http://terminalthrust.bandcamp.com/ T_Thrust

    This is absurd. If you’re that worried about somebody “seeing an app” you downloaded you’ve got bigger problems to worry about.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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