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Permanently delete iPhone zombie apps on your phone

Kick your iPhone app data to the curb for good.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Katie Teague
2 min read

No more zombie apps for you.

Angela Lang/CNET
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Zombie apps are really annoying for all the iPhone owners out there. (We're hoping the iPhone 11 has this zombie problem figured out.) It happens when you delete an app, only to restore your latest backup or connect your iPhone to iTunes, and lo and behold, the app pops back on your home screen. What is going on?

What happens is that when you backup your iPhone to iCloud, Apple's online storage service doesn't completely remove the app data, just in case you have it installed on another iOS device. For example, you may want to remove Facebook from your iPhone, but leave it on your iPad .

But maybe you're ready to remove that app. That's where these steps come in handy for permanently deleting an app from all of your devices.

Watch this: Delete your iPhone's zombie apps right now

Start with your iPhone or iPad

1. Lightly press down and hold the app until it starts wiggling. If you press too firmly and your iPhone has 3D Touch, you may open the Share menu instead. If so, just tap outside the menu and try again with a lighter touch.

2. Tap the X in the upper left-hand corner of the app.

3. A box will appear that says "Delete [name of app]? Deleting this app will also delete its data."Tap Delete.

4. Tap Done (for iPhone X and later) or press the Home button (for iPhone 8 or earlier).


Permanently delete apps on your iPhone and iPad.

Angela Lang/CNET

Read more: How to back up your iPhone prior to installing iOS 12

Delete the app from iCloud

1. Go to Settings and tap your profile (name).

2. Tap iCloud.

3. Tap Manage Storage. On this screen, you will see your current iCloud storage available.

4. Select Backups from the list. You will see all devices that are currently using the iCloud backup storage.

5. Choose the current iPhone you are using. Hint: It will say "This iPhone."

6. You will see a small list of apps under Choose Data to Back Up. Tap Show All Apps.

7. Find the app or apps you want to permanently delete and slide the white dot to the left so that the color changes from green to white.

8. A window will pop up that asks "Do you want to turn off [selected app] backups and delete the backup data from iCloud?" Tap Turn Off & Delete.

Now your apps will be permanently deleted on your iPhone (and other iOS devices) and will never redownload when you sync your device to iTunes.

What if I delete an app I paid for?

If you delete an app you purchased and decide you want it back, you can always go back to the App Store and redownload the app at no additional charge. It's yours for life.

Watch this: 5 tricks to free up space on your iPhone