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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Wish List: Keep apps from being offloaded

When I buy a new iPhone, I tend not to spring for the top of the line where storage is concerned. Generally I’m okay going for a smaller capacity phone, because I don’t have a ton of data, but it can get tight at times1, because as someone who writes a lot about iOS, I do download a lot of apps.

Offload Unused Apps setting in iOS

I definitely don’t want to spend my time going through apps and deleting the many I don’t use anymore, so I’ve gotten used to letting the system manage my apps for me, thanks to the Settings > App Store -> Offload Unused Apps feature. This basically keep an eye on your app usage and, if there’s one that’s been just sitting there for a while without being opened, it offloads it.

Note that this doesn’t delete the app in question: it still shows up on your device, and your data is still intact. But the next time you try to launch that app, it’ll have to be redownloaded from the App Store.

Most of the time this is fine, but I’ve increasingly run into scenarios where I want an app that’s been offloaded—usually because it’s an app I only need sometimes. For example, the last couple times I’ve been out on a hike, I wanted to use the bird identification app Merlin, only to find that it—and its hefty data packs—had been offloaded.

So, my modest suggestion is that Apple provide a way in iOS for you to flag certain apps as “not to be offloaded.” That way I don’t have to worry that I’ll be out somewhere with no connectivity in desperate need to know what bird that is and no way to find out, like some sort of 17th amateur ornithologist.

  1. Such as installing a new developer beta. 😐 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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