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

All iOS devices – the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad – come pre-loaded with apps from Apple. Among the most popular of these apps are the App Store, the Safari web browser, iTunes Store, Camera, and FaceTime. On nearly every iOS device, you'll see these apps. But sometimes these apps will be missing and you may wonder where they went.

There are two possible explanations for why an app has disappeared.

It could have been deleted. That's obvious. Less obvious is that "missing" apps may have been hidden using the iOS's Content Restrictions feature.

Content Restrictions is built into the iOS and allows users to turn off certain built-in apps and features. When these restrictions are in use, those apps are hidden – at least until they get turned back on.

Apps & Features That Can Be Hidden

Content Restrictions can be used to hide the following apps:

Functions and features of the iOS that can be turned off include:

  • Location services
  • Adding or modifying email accounts and many other settings
  • Various privacy settings (iOS 6 and up)
  • Changes to settings for cellular data, background app refresh, and volume limits (iOS 7 and up)
  • Purchasing iTunes Store content exceeding given ratings
  • Game Center:
    • Multiplayer Games
    • Adding Friends
    • Screen Recording

    Why Apps May Be Hidden

    There are two groups of people who will generally use Content Restrictions to make it appear that the App Store and other apps have been deleted: 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, some apps may be missing thanks to settings put on your device 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. You can do this by searching for them using the built-in Spotlight search tool.

    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, what they intended). If you don't know it, you're basically of 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 Get Deleted Apps Back

      Your apps could also be missing because they've been deleted. On earlier versions of the iOS it wasn't possible to delete built-in apps. Apple changed that in iOS 10, allowing you to delete many pre-loaded apps (though technically those apps are just hidden, not deleted). 

      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.

      So, as all of this goes to show, even when your Safari, FaceTime, or App Store app is missing or seems to be deleted, it's still there or can be recovered pretty easily. You just need to know a passcode or a few steps in the App Store to get it back.