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How to block apps on an iPhone

iPhone apps are amazing, but there's such a thing as too much of a good thing.
By

Published onNovember 13, 2023

iPhone applications are a marvel of modern technology. They are what make our devices so capable. It’s also true they can be distracting and time-consuming. And if you have kids, many can be inappropriate, too. If you need to force yourself or your kids to stay away from certain apps, today we will show you how to block apps on an iPhone.

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There are multiple ways to block apps on an iPhone. You can simply delete the apps and block app downloads from the Apple App Store. Additionally, you can use tools like Downtime, App Limits, and Content Restrictions. Keep reading to learn about how these work and how to use them.


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Editor’s note: We used an Apple iPhone 12 Mini running iOS 17.2 to formulate these instructions. Some steps may be different depending on your iPhone model and its software version.

How to block iPhone app downloads and purchases on the Apple App Store

Unless you have a jailbroken iPhone, the only way to get iPhone apps is through the Apple App Store. If you’re primarily worried about your kids downloading new apps without your consent, you can make it so that the Apple App Store requires a password before installing an application.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap on your Apple ID, which is labeled as your name. It’s the top option.
  3. Go into Media & Purchases.
  4. Select Password Settings.
  5. Make sure Always Require Password is selected.
  6. Also, Toggle on Require Password under the Free Downloads section.
  7. Hit Done.

Just be warned that this option can be turned off. It’s probably not a good solution if your kid is tech-savvy enough.

How to block iPhone app downloads by using Content & Privacy Restrictions

Here’s a more ironclad feature for blocking iPhone app downloads. This one actually requires entering a password every time you want to change the settings. It also has more options you can use to control content you can access.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Screen Time.
  3. If you don’t want these settings to be easily changed, tap on Lock Screen Time Settings to set up a password.
  4. Tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  5. Toggle on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  6. Select iTunes & App Store Purchases.
  7. Tap on each option under Store Purchases & Downloads and select whether you want to Allow or Don’t Allow.
  8. Also, make sure to go to the Require Password section and select Always Require.

How to block iPhone apps by using Screen Time

Blocking iPhone app downloads works, but you don’t always want to limit a device this much. Maybe it’s better to spend some more time setting up Screen Time. This is Apple’s hub for setting up application and content restrictions.

How to block iPhone apps by using Downtime

When turned on, Downtime mode blocks all apps on an iPhone. That is unless you allow them to work during Downtime. Phone calls and text messages will also be allowed by default. You can turn on Downtime mode manually, or schedule it. Let’s take you through the setup process.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Screen Time.
  3. Tap on Downtime.
  4. You can now tap Turn on Downtime Until Tomorrow. This allows you to turn Downtime on or off at will.
  5. To schedule Downtime, toggle on Scheduled and set the time and days.
  6. Go back to the Screen Time menu and select Always Allowed.
  7. Here, you can select which apps you want to allow during Downtime. Just tap on the + icon next to them to add an app.
  8. You can also go into Contacts to choose specific contacts that can reach you during this time.

How to block iPhone apps by using App Limits

Additionally, you can use App Limits to avoid using certain apps a bit too much. With this feature, you can set actual time limits. For example, you can limit yourself to one hour of TikTok daily. The app will stop working after the specified time.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Screen Time.
  3. Tap on App Limits.
  4. Select Add Limit.
  5. Select which app categories you want Downtime to limit. To get more specific, you can expand the categories and select individual apps. There’s also a Websites option at the bottom.
  6. When ready, hit Next.
  7. Set the time limit you want to set for these apps. You can also tap on Customize Days to pick which days these limits apply to.
  8. When ready, hit Add.

How to block iPhone apps by using Content Restrictions

Remember we used the Content & Privacy Restrictions to block iPhone app downloads? Well, it can do much more than that. You can choose what you want your device to have access to at a much more granular level. The Content Restrictions section was also moved here, which is great for limiting apps that aren’t appropriate for a kid’s age group.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Screen Time.
  3. Tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  4. Make sure Content & Privacy Restrictions is toggled on.
  5. Go into Content Restrictions. Here, you can restrict what the phone has access to. For example, you can go into Apps and choose which apps you want to allow. It can be Don’t Allow or Allow All, but you can also choose between the various age groups.
  6. To learn more about the many other options in this section, check out our Content Restrictions guide here.

We’re focusing on blocking apps on iPhone today, but we advise you to go through the other options in the Content & Privacy Restrictions menu. You can limit privacy settings like Location Services, Contacts, Calendars, etc. It also allows you to block Passcode Changes, Cellular Data Changes, and more.

How to block iPhone apps using third-party apps

iPhone apps can do pretty much anything! The same applies to blocking apps on an iPhone; there are apps specifically made to do this. We can’t give you exact instructions because they all work differently. We can say most of these are easier to use than Apple’s convoluted options, though.

Some of our favorite apps for blocking apps on an iPhone are Refocus, Opal, and AppBlock. These are all very simple to use, have great controls, and have excellent customer reviews.

How to block iPhone app notifications using Focus

Those more worried about app notifications distracting, interrupting, or waking you up can use Apple’s Focus tool. It is a simple feature that allows you to turn off notifications or calls during specific times, like when you are sleeping, or at work. This is also where you can set up Do Not Disturb mode.

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Go into Focus.
  3. You’ll find a list of pre-determined Focus options. Select the one you want to set up, or tap the + button to create a new one. We will use Do Not Disturb for this tutorial.
  4. By default, no apps or contacts are allowed. You can select People or Apps, and set exceptions. We will use Apps for the purposes of this tutorial.
  5. Tap on Add Apps.
  6. Select the apps you want to allow. Then hit Done.
  7. When done, you can scroll down and choose to Add Schedule. You can also Customize Screens or set up Focus Filters.
  8. Next time you want to avoid distractions, open your Control Center by scrolling down from the top-right side of the screen. Hit the Focus option and select Do Not Disturb.

Here’s our dedicated guide if you want to learn more ways to block iPhone notifications.


FAQs

If a kid is tech-savvy enough, it’s possible to change certain settings to remove app blocks. Take advantage of Screen Time options, which can be password-locked. Oh, and make sure the kid doesn’t know the password or PIN!

Yes. You can either do this through the Apple ID settings, or the Content & Privacy Restrictions section within the Screen Time settings.