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App Store Missing from iPhone: How to Get it Back

This tip also applies to missing Safari, FaceTime/Camera & iTunes Store Apps

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get back missing app store

The App Store Turned Off in iOS 7

All iOS devices--the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad--come pre-loaded with a number of apps from Apple. Among the most popular of these apps are the App Store, the Safari web browser, iTunes Store, Camera, and FaceTime. On nearly every iOS device, you'll see these apps. But sometimes these apps will be missing and you may wonder if you've deleted them.

The apps probably aren't deleted--doing that usually requires  jailbreaking or other complex tasks. More than likely, they've been hidden using the iOS's Content Restrictions.

Content Restrictions is a tool built into the iOS that allows users to turn off certain built-in apps and features. When these restrictions are in use, it may seem like App Store, FaceTime, or other apps are missing. But they're not really gone; they're hidden--at least until they get turned back on.

Apps & Features That Can Be Hidden

Content Restrictions can be used to hide the following apps:

  • Safari
  • YouTube (in iOS 5 and earlier)
  • Camera
  • FaceTime
  • iTunes Store
  • Ping (not a separate app, but a feature of iTunes; in iOs 5 and earlier)
  • App Store
  • Siri (in iOS 6 and up)
  • iBooks Store (in iOS 7 and up)
  • AirDrop (in iOS 7 and up)

Functions and features of the iOS that can be turned off include:

  • Installing and Deleting apps
  • Location services
  • Adding or modifying email accounts
  • In-app purchases
  • Various privacy settings (iOS 6 and up)
  • Changes to settings for cellular data, background app refresh, and volume limits (iOS 7 and up)
  • Purchasing iTunes Store content exceeding given ratings
  • Game Center:
    • Multiplayer Games
    • Adding Friends

Why Apps May Be Hidden

There are two groups of people who will generally use Content Restrictions to make it appear that the App Store and other apps have been deleted: parents and IT administrators.

Parents use Content Restrictions to prevent their children from accessing apps, settings, or content that they don't want them to. This can be to prevent them from accessing mature content or from exposing themselves to online predators via social networking or photos.

If you get your iOS device through your employer, some apps may be missing due to settings put on your device by your company's IT administrators. They may be in place due to corporate policies about the kind of content you can access on your device or for security reasons.

How to Get Apps Back

If your App Store, Safari, or other apps are missing, it's possible to get them back. But it may not be easy.

First, make sure that the apps are truly missing, and not simply moved to another screen or in a folder.

If they're not there, it's most likely that Content Restrictions are in use. To turn them off, do the following:

  1. Tap on the Settings app
  2. Tap on General
  3. Scroll down to Restrictions and tap on that
  4. If Restrictions are turned on, you'll be asked to enter the 4-digit passcode here. This is where it gets hard. If you're a kid or a corporate employee, you may not know the passcode your parents or IT administrators used (which is, of course, what they intended). If you don't know it, you're kind of out of luck. Sorry. If you do know it, though, enter it here.
  5. If you want to enable some apps while leaving others hidden, slide the slider next to the app you want to use to On. In iOS 7 and up, the slide for the App Store is labeled Installing Apps.
  6. If you want to enable all apps and turn off Content Restrictions, tap the Disable Restrictions button at the top of the screen and enter the 4-digit passcode.

A note on jailbreaking: If you've jailbroken your phone, it's possible that you actually have deleted some of the built-in apps. If that's the case, you'll need to restore your phone to factory settings in order to get those apps back.

So, as this goes to show, even when your Safari, FaceTime, or App Store is missing or seems to be deleted, it's probably still there. You just need to know a single 4-digit passcode to get it back.

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