iPhone and iPad Security

How to Hide and Restrict Apps on iPhone

Tim Chawaga Updated 01-05-2019

App restrictions have been a part of iOS for a long time. Parents understandably want to have the ability to limit what their children can do and see on their phones.


But with the release of iOS 12, Apple took a new approach to app restrictions. Now those features are bundled into a new utility called Screen Time. Many of them function the same, but the overall approach to restrictions is different. It’s more difficult to completely hide an app from view, but we’ll show you what you need to know.

How to Hide Apps on iPhone

There are many reasons to hide an app yet still have access to it yourself. We won’t get too nosy about why you might want to, but the only way to do this in iOS 12 is simply putting the app in an out-of-the-way folder on an empty home screen. Unless someone knows exactly where to look for it, it’ll basically stay hidden from view. Name the folder something innocuous to throw people off further.

However, if you’re a parent and you need a more fool-proof approach to restrict app access for your kids, you’ll need a more effective strategy. To block certain apps from showing up on the screen at all, you have to use Screen Time.

Screen Time in iOS 12

When you go to Settings > Screen Time, the first window you see is a breakdown of how much time you’ve spent on your phone that day, and what you did with it. If you press it, you can see a more detailed breakdown. This shows you exactly what apps you used and how much time you spent using them.


Screen Time is a great tool to help you curb your smartphone addiction iOS 12's Screen Time Feature Will Curb Your Phone Addiction Do you use your iPhone too much? The new Screen Time feature in iOS 12 can help you cut back on your phone addiction. Read More . But it can also become a powerful parental tool when combined with App Limits, iCloud, and the Screen Time password.

Use Downtime to Limit Phone Usage

Previous versions of iOS featured a tool called Restrictions, which you could find under the Settings > General section. The goal of this was to prevent a user from seeing certain content in an app, or an entire app. The purpose of this feature was primarily to prevent users, particularly children, from seeing explicit content or making unauthorized purchases.

Screen Time’s goal is slightly different. Its overall goal is to limit the amount of time that you or your children’s eyes are on your phone. It can still limit the kind of content that you or your children can see, but it does so in a different way.


Downtime is the first section of settings in Screen Time, and states the overall purpose of the feature. It lets you set a schedule for time away from your screen. When Downtime is enabled, you will be unable to access any apps, except for the ones you’ve allowed.

Screen Time App Limits

This is the section that allows you to set time limits for apps. Note that you can’t set limits for specific apps; iOS limits you to certain categories of apps only. Once you turn App Limits on, you’ll be greeted with a set of categories like Social Networking, Games, or Entertainment.

You can choose any of these categories and the amount of time you want to use them. For example, you can set your phone up so you have a total of one hour per day to play any games. This applies whether you play one game for an hour or six games for 10 minutes each. When you reach that limit, you’re presented with an alert that says you’ve reached your time limit.


You can, if you want, choose to ignore the alert and go back to gaming. If, however, you are a parent and you’ve set up Time Limits for you child’s phone, you can set a Screen Time password so that they can’t go past those time limits.

Always Allowed Apps

Even if want to restrict your kid’s excessive screen time, it’s important to keep some apps available in case of emergencies. The Always Allowed section of Screen Time lets you do this. By default, your Phone app will always be available so you can make emergency calls.

Additionally, you can choose any app from the list, hit the green plus button, and they will be added to your Always Allowed list. These apps will be available even during downtime.

Content and Privacy Restrictions


This section is the most useful for a parent trying to restrict their child from accessing certain content.

Under iTunes & App Store Purchases , you can block yourself or someone else from installing and deleting apps. Also, crucially, you can now prevent yourself or others from making in-app purchases.

Allowed Apps lets you block certain apps from being seen or used. Unlike App Limits, Allowed Apps will hide the app completely. However, this setting only applies to built-in iOS apps like Camera, Facetime, and Safari. Third-party apps are not supported.

Content Restrictions lets you choose whether to hide explicit content in the App Store and iTunes Store. It also lets you limit websites to exclude adult content sites, or even limit access to a specific whitelist. Furthermore, you can prevent users from searching the web or playing multiplayer games.

Finally, the Privacy section, which was under Settings before, has moved to Screen Time. This section lets you customize which apps have access to certain information about you, such as your location, your contact information, and your photos. You can block every app from accessing this information, or whitelist certain ones you trust.

Other Screen Time Settings

The primary purpose of Screen Time is to help the user of the phone practice self-restraint.

However, as we’ve seen, it’s also a valuable tool for guiding and monitoring how your child uses your phone. In order to do this most effectively, you’ll need to set a Screen Time password that only you know. This is similar to the Restrictions password in previous versions of iOS.

You can share your Screen Time password across all your iCloud devices. So if, for example, you have a family of devices, you can have the same passcode on all of them and restrict app usage across your Apple environment.

You can also set up Screen Time for Family, which lets you enter other Apple IDs and track and control their Screen Time usage. This lets you control other iPhones right from your phone, which is a huge improvement over Restrictions.

Finally, we recommend using Screen Time along with a heavy-duty case, a plug protector, and more to make your iPhone truly kid-safe. 10 Vital Ways to Kid-Proof Your iPhone or iPad Want to make your iPhone or iPad safe for your kids to use? Here are important tips for protecting your device. Read More

Making Screen Time Educational

Now you know how to use Screen Time to restrict your child’s usage of iPhone apps. Using these tools, you can block inappropriate content and help them maintain a healthy relationship with technology.

While it’s a good idea to limit your kids’ app usage when it comes to silly games, some apps can actually help them learn. Teach them numbers, letters, and more with some of the best educational apps for iPhone 10 Exciting iPhone Education Apps for Kids With these awesome iPhone education apps for kids, your children can have a lot of fun and learn at the same time. Read More .

For additional help, take a look at what the video game ratings mean What Do Video Game Ratings Mean? A Guide to ESRB and PEGI Have you ever wondered what video game ratings actually mean? Here are the ESRB and PEGI ratings explained in plain terms. Read More so you can be prepared when you child asks for a new game.

Image Credit: Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock

Related topics: Internet Filters, iPhone Tips, Parental Control, Parenting and Technology.

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  1. Rach
    May 6, 2019 at 11:56 am

    I much preferred the old Restrictions. I find Screen Time annoying and not at all useful; I prefer to manage my own screen time by old-fashioned adult life skills, and my young children's by old-fashioned parenting. It also seems that turning off Screen Time causes all the restrictions to be reset to default.

  2. Rukhsar Ahmad
    May 3, 2019 at 12:09 am

    Cool advice I almost ordered a new earpod but I followed the advice and it’s working. Thank you so much