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How to lock apps on an iPhone and limit their daily usage

"Five hours a day on Facebook? Eeek!"
By
October 14, 2022
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max dynamic island
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If you have kids with an iPhone or you can’t stop looking at your own iPhone, you may want to consider locking apps after a specific time period. The app locking feature in Screen Time allows you to set a time period for looking at an app and then lock it down afterward until midnight. This would be an excellent productivity hack if you lack self-control and have an overwhelming urge to doom-scroll through Facebook when you should be getting work done. Here’s the complete guide on how to lock apps on an iPhone and limit their daily usage.

Read more: How to enable iPhone Location Services

QUICK ANSWER

To lock iOS-specific apps, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps. If you don't need access to an iOS-specific app such as FaceTime, toggle it off, and it will disappear from your phone screen. If you would rather lock any installed app after a specific time period, go to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits. Select the app, choose how long per day you wish to use it for, and save.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to lock apps on an iPhone and limit their daily usage

Start by going to Settings > Screen Time. If you have never used Screen Time before, you will have to enable it and set a passcode. Don’t forget the passcode. If you do, you can’t disable anything in this section without wiping and resetting the entire device.

Once Screen Time has been set up, tap App Limits.

iphone screen time app limits

Select Add Limit.

iphone app limits add limit

All of your installed apps will now appear on-screen, categorized as Social, Games, Entertainment, etc. Tap the category your app is likely to be in and find it.

iphone app limits app list

For the purposes of this tutorial, I chose Facebook. So I dropped down the Social category and tapped Facebook.

iphone app limits social apps

You now need to decide how long each day you’re going to give yourself with this app. I put it to one hour. But what if you want to treat yourself at weekends to a longer time period, for example? Then tap Customize Days.

iphone app limits set time

You can now choose different time periods for different days. Just select the day and spin the wheel to choose how long you want.

iphone app limits customize days

Once all your selections have been saved, exit, and you’ll see Facebook appear on the list. The time starts when you open the app and resets at midnight.

If you want to remove the app limit, swipe on the app entry and choose the removal option. But you will be asked for the Screen Time passcode, so I hope you still remember it.

iphone app limits limit set

Lock iOS-specific apps with Content Restrictions

If you want to lock iOS-specific apps and stop them appearing on your device screen, you would need to go back to the Screen Time main screen and choose Content & Privacy Restrictions. We have already done an article on iOS Restrictions, but here is a TLDR for anyone who just wants the potted summary.

On the Content & Privacy Restrictions page, toggle the feature on. Then select Allowed Apps.

iphone allowed apps

You will be presented with a list of iOS-specific apps which can’t be uninstalled. But you can make them disappear from your screen by toggling them off. This is also helpful if your iPhone-owning child is not allowed access to things like FaceTime or Wallet.

iphone allowed apps app list

FAQs

No, but some apps do offer two-factor authentication, Face ID, or Touch ID to open them. Open the app’s settings to see if this is possible.

No, you cannot disable any limits if you forget your Screen Time passcode.

There is no Screen Time passcode reset option. Your only choice in this scenario is to wipe and reset the entire iPhone.