What is the difference between offload and delete app in iOS and iPadOS

What is the difference between offload and delete app in iOS and iPadOS

Before Apple’s iOS 11 was released, the only way to remove an app from your iPhone or iPad was to delete it. Things changed with iOS 11 when Apple introduced the app offload feature. Now you can either unload an app or delete it. Many iPhone users often wonder – what is the difference between Offload and Delete? Let’s find the answer in this post.

Apple offers two ways to unload apps – automatically done by iOS and iPadOS or unload apps manually. In the first, Apple will automatically unload unused apps when your iPhone or iPad runs out of storage. My colleague covered the automatic unloading of apps in detail. So we’re not going to dive into that. Here we’ll explain how manual deletion and unloading differs from each other and which one you should use to delete apps from your phone.

Let’s start.

Availability of unloading and removal

The ability to delete apps has been part of iOS from the start. So you can delete apps from any iOS and iPadOS device. On the contrary, you can only offload apps on devices running iOS 11 and above.

What does unloading and deleting the app mean

You must have noticed the app unload and delete options in Settings> General> iPhone storage> App name. Now you must be wondering what is the difference between them. Here is your answer.

Difference between unloading and deleting application 1

Difference between unloading and deleting application 2

There are several apps on our phone that we barely use. Some apps that we haven’t opened for months. But removing them doesn’t seem like a good idea. Mainly, because it will delete the data associated with the app. This is where unloading an app helps.

The app offload feature only removes app code, not app-related data. So you can unload the app until you want to use it again. For this you will need to reinstall the application. But you won’t need to reconfigure the app as the data related to the app is still available on your iPhone or iPad. When you unload an app, it no longer makes API calls or runs in the background. You are even saved from the barrage of unnecessary notifications without affecting app data.

Note: You cannot offload or delete system apps like Messages, Phone, Health, Safari, Photos, etc.

On the other hand, deleting an app completely erases both the app code and its data. When you reinstall the app, you will have to start over as if you installed it for the first time, unless the app offers a cloud sync feature. We’ve cited a few examples below to help you better understand the differences.

Point: To remove an app, press and hold the app icon on the home screen until the icons start to shake. Tap the cross symbol on the icon of the app you want to remove.

What happens when you unload or delete apps

Let’s take a look at the aftermath of unloading and deleting apps.

Application icons

When you delete an app, its icon is immediately removed from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad. However, this is not the case with offload applications.

When you unload an app, its icon remains on the Home screen (or in a folder on the Home screen) of your iPhone or iPad. Below the icons of unloaded apps, you’ll see a small cloud symbol.

Difference between unloading and deleting application 4

The app will also disappear from the main settings list. But you can still see it under Settings> General> iPhone or iPad storage.

Amount of storage space saved

If you visit the iPhone or iPad storage screen, you will see the list of installed apps and their total size. Tap any app and the total size will be split into two – App Size and Documents & Data.

Difference between unloading and deleting application 1

Difference between unloading and deleting app 3

Documents and data host cached files and cookies (app connection details and app configuration preferences) and uploaded files such as images, videos, audios, etc.

Unloading an app will free up the amount of storage shown next to App size, because only the app is deleted and not its data. The Application Size option will disappear after unloading an application. And the Unload button will be replaced by the Reinstall app.

Difference between unloading and deleting the app 5

And if you delete the app, you will free up the full size of the app i.e.App size + Documents & Data. So everything is deleted.

Affected data

Let’s see which data is affected by a few examples mentioned below.


Unloading the YouTube app will keep any changes you made to the YouTube app settings before unloading it, such as dark mode, autoplay settings, etc. Likewise, your downloaded content will also remain intact. But you will need the YouTube app to open it. You will also be automatically logged into your account.

Difference between unloading and deleting application 2

Deleting an app will remove the app’s configuration preferences, downloaded content, and login information. You will need to customize the app again when you reinstall it after removing it.

Google chrome

Likewise, in Google Chrome and other browsers as well, your app preferences, downloaded files, etc. will remain intact while unloading an app. When you reinstall an app, you’ll feel like you’ve just reopened the app from the last time, because even your open tabs are intact.

But if you delete Chrome, you will have to configure and change the app settings again to suit your needs. For example, if you changed the search engine before deleting the app, you will need to edit it again. However, the images or other files downloaded through the Chrome browser will not be deleted by deleting it. You can access it from supported apps like Photos app for pictures and videos.


When you offload WhatsApp, iOS will keep your chats, pictures and other data. The next time you install WhatsApp, you will be automatically logged in with your number without re-registering. However, you will not receive any messages while your WhatsApp is unloading. You will only receive them when you reinstall the app.

Difference between unloading and deleting the app 7

When you delete WhatsApp, your chats will be deleted unless you have enabled backup to iCloud. You will need to save your number again. Your WhatsApp account will not be deleted when uninstalling or unloading the app. Find out in detail what happens when you uninstall WhatsApp.

Likewise, in other social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, etc., offloading will keep all local data and preferences.


For most games, removing an app will remove your high score, number of levels, and the like. This is because this data is usually stored in the local storage of your iPhone or iPad. Only if an app supports cloud sync feature like Candy Crush, you won’t lose your levels. But other items like bonus props, lives, etc. will be destroyed by removing the app. This is not the case with unloading a game. Everything will remain as is.

How to reuse apps after unloading or deleting them

In either case, you will need to download the app again from the App Store. As is evident, this will require an internet connection. So if you don’t have a working internet connection, you won’t be able to access the unloaded or deleted app.

To reinstall an unloaded app, tap the unloaded app icon on your iPhone or iPad home screen. You can also go to Settings> General> iPhone storage. Tap the offloaded app you want to reinstall. The Offload app button should display the Reinstall app. Tap on it. You can also install the app directly from the App Store.

Difference between unloading and deleting the application 6

Pro tip: Place unloaded apps in a folder on the home screen to avoid accidentally installing an app by tapping on it.

To reinstall a deleted app, open the App Store and search for the name of the app. Install the app by tapping the install icon.

Note: You will only be able to install a deleted or unloaded app if it is still available in the App Store. If the app no ‚Äč‚Äčlonger exists, you cannot reinstall it.

Which one should you use

Offload and Delete have their pros and cons. For example, unloading an application saves all local data related to the application. This saves storage space on iPhone or iPad without affecting app data. I like to use it for apps that I need in certain places only. For example, I use some apps for services limited to a specific region only. I don’t want to lose their data. So it makes sense to unload them until I need them again. That’s why you need to offload apps that you rarely use.

Deleting an app will help you reclaim more space compared to offloading, but you will lose the associated data if you delete an app. Therefore, I delete the apps that I no longer use. A good tip is to uninstall apps that you haven’t used for 3-6 months.

However, both have the downside of needing an internet connection to relocate. If you are in a location with no internet or no internet connection, you will not be able to use downloaded or deleted apps.


Afraid of losing data from your iPhone? Know how to backup and what iPhone backup is from the following link.

Last updated on Jul 25, 2020

The above article may contain affiliate links that help support Guiding Tech. However, this does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains impartial and authentic.

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