My iPhone Apps Won’t Open! Here’s The Real Fix.

One of two things is happening when you tap to open an iPhone app: Nothing happens at all, or the app beings to load the opening screen, but immediately closes. Either way, you’re left staring at an iPhone full of apps that won’t open, and that’s no good. In this article, I’ll explain why your iPhone apps won’t open and how to fix the problem for good.

Why Won’t My iPhone Apps Open?

Your iPhone apps won’t open because your iPhone has a software problem. When an app crashes, it usually doesn’t take the whole iPhone with it. Instead, you end up back on the Home screen, and the app terminates in the background. Most of the time, that’s enough to fix a software bug – but not always.

Apps don’t exist in a vacuum, either. In my experience, iPhone apps usually won’t open because of a problem with the iPhone operating system (iOS), not a problem with the app itself.

How To Fix iPhone Apps That Won’t Open

I’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of troubleshooting an app that won’t open. We’ll start simple and work our way toward the more involved fixes, if and when they become necessary. You can do this. Let’s get started!

1. Turn Your iPhone Off And Back On

It’s simple, but turning your iPhone off and back on can resolve hidden software issues that may be preventing your apps from opening correctly. When you turn off your iPhone, the operating system shuts down all the little background programs that help your iPhone to run. When you turn it back on, they all start fresh, and sometimes that’s enough to fix a software glitch that had been preventing your apps from opening.

To turn your iPhone off, press and hold the power button on your iPhone until ‘slide to power off’ appears on the screen. Slide the icon across the screen with your finger, and wait for your iPhone to shut off. It’s normal for the process to take up to 30 seconds. To turn your iPhone back on, press and hold the power button until the Apple logo appears on the screen, and then let go.

2. Check For Updates In The App Store

One of the main reasons app developers release updates is to fix software bugs that can cause problems like this one. Instead of combing through the list to find the problem app, I believe your best bet is simply to update all your apps at once.

To update your apps, open the App Store and tap on the Account icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Scroll down to the Updates section and tap Update All to update every app simultaneously.

check for updates to apps

3. Delete The App And Reinstall It

The idea that you should delete the app from your iPhone and redownload it from the App Store is the first thing most technicians will instruct you to do. It’s the “unplug it and plug it back in” school of thought, and a lot of the time it works.

I think it’s a good place to start too, but I don’t want to get your hopes up. Ask yourself, “Are all of my apps not opening, or is it a problem with just one app?”

  • If only one of your apps won’t open, there’s a good chance that deleting the app from your iPhone and reinstalling it from the App Store will fix the problem.
  • If many of your apps won’t open, I don’t recommend you delete and reinstall all of them, because it’s probably a waste of time. Instead, we’ll have to address the underlying cause, which is the iPhone’s operating system (iOS).

4. Is The App Ancient? When Was The Last Time It Was Updated?

There are over 1.5 million apps in the App Store, and not all of them are kept up-to-date. The software code that runs iPhone apps changes every time Apple releases a new version of iOS. Usually the changes aren’t too drastic, but if an app hasn’t been updated in years, there’s a good chance it’s incompatible with your version of iOS.

If you recently upgraded to a new version of iOS, especially if it was a major upgrade, like going from iOS 13 to iOS 14 (not 14.2 to 14.2.1, for example), this may explain why your app won’t open.

To find out when an app was last updated, open the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app and tap Version History to see when the app’s update history.

check version history for iphone app

Another way to test for this is to ask a friend with the same model iPhone and iOS version to download and open the app. If the app works on their iPhone, we know there’s a software problem with yours. If the app doesn’t open on their iPhone, there’s a problem with the app itself.

Unfortunately, if an app is too old to run on a newer version of iOS, there’s nothing you can do to make it work. Your best bet is to contact the app developer and ask if they’re planning to release an updated version. If I were in their position, I’d be grateful someone let me know about the problem.

5. Reset All Settings

You’ll find this reset by going to Settings -> General -> Transfer Or Reset iPhone -> Reset -> Reset All Settings, and it’s not something I recommend doing unless it’s absolutely necessary. Reset All Settings doesn’t erase any of your personal data from your iPhone, but like the name suggests, it does reset all of your settings back to factory defaults. If you’ve taken the time to optimize your settings to get better battery life, for example, you’ll have to do it all over again.

reset all settings ios 15

I don’t believe there’s a magic bullet for iPhone problems, but if I had to choose, Reset All Settings is about as close it gets. It’s worth a shot — I’ve seen Reset All Settings fix strange software problems before, and it’s not as time-consuming as the next step in the process, which is to back up and restore your iPhone.

6. Back Up Your iPhone, And Restore

If you’ve tried resetting the settings on your iPhone, uninstalled and reinstalled the app, and you’re convinced the app isn’t too old to run on your version if iOS, it’s time to break out the big guns. We’re going to back up your iPhone to iCloud, or Finder, iTunes, restore your iPhone using iTunes or Finder, and then restore your personal data from your backup.

Before you back up your iPhone, I recommend that you uninstall the problem app from your iPhone, if it’s only one app that won’t open. If it’s more than one app, don’t worry about uninstalling all of them — just back it up and walk through the process. 

The ideal way to do this is to back up your iPhone to iCloud (if you’re out of space, my article about why you should never pay for iCloud storage will help you free some up), DFU restore your iPhone using iTunes or Finder, and restore from your iCloud backup.

Use iCloud To Back Up Your iPhone, If You Can

I strongly recommend using iCloud to back up and restore your iPhone when your apps won’t open.

When you back up your iPhone to iTunes or Finder, it makes an image of all your apps and data. When you restore from the backup, the whole image gets put back on your iPhone, and there’s a chance the problem will come right back.

iCloud backups only save your personal data “in the cloud”, not the entire app. When you restore from an iCloud backup, your iPhone downloads your personal data from iCloud and your apps fresh from the App Store, so there’s a smaller chance the problem will return.

Apps Are Opening Again: Wrapping It Up

When an iPhone app won’t open, it’s a problem that can take 30 seconds, 30 minutes, or longer to solve. For your sake, I hope the fix was simple. I’d like to hear from you about your experience with apps that won’t open, and about how far you had to go to fix your iPhone.

Thanks for reading, and remember to pay it forward,
David P.

About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

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1 month ago

How stupid can you be? When someone tells you that the apps won’t load on your phone and you say that one of the fixes is to go into the App store to update all the apps. The phone won’t load apps, including the App store! Great advice.

4 months ago

I have a iPhone 14. When I’m talking on the phone, it won’t let me go to photos, texts, apps etc.. it just stopped all at once. How can I fix it? Thanks..

10 months ago

I have had to dwnld the Australian ETA app to apply for a visa. It’s all downlded but when I try to open it the spinning thing just spins endlessly and it won’t open. I have deleted it and dwnlded it 3 x’s still it won’t open. I have turned my iPhone off and back on to no avail. I am out of ideas, have you got any other ideas.

Hilary Walton
11 months ago

Just having a problem with the instagram app. I can still get into it but not via the app which just reverts to my home page so to speak

3 months ago
Reply to  Hilary Walton

i am having this problem now, too. has anyone found a fix?

1 year ago

my iphone 8 won’t open any apps except for Spotify and one game

Imran Dhali
1 year ago

I’ve a iPhone 6 .Some apps are not working. Tha Apps are- App store, Facebook, Massage, and Bluetooth, wifi , Ringtone sound is not working. How I can fix ti .

Jordan Hughes
1 year ago

Hi I’m trying to open WhatsApp I’ve tried all fixes tried uninstalling and reinstalling the app the done option doesn’t work and won’t allow me to progress and verify my number iPhone is up to date all fixes have been attempted please help

1 year ago

so im trying to get into the apps and i just cant. i cant even turn off the phone with siri or the turn off botton or the volume botton and i just dont know what to do.

1 year ago

my iphone wont shut down or my apps wont open none of them please help

David Lynch
1 year ago
Reply to  letty

Have you tried a hard reset?

1 year ago
Reply to  David Lynch

Hi, having a similar problem, is there a way to turn it off without siri or the power+volume button? Neither works.

David Lynch
1 year ago
Reply to  Trevor

You should be able to turn off your iPhone in Settings -> General. Scroll all the way down to the Shut Down option.

Marie Mendoza
1 year ago

A bit off course from all that people are commenting here to fix the issue but I thought I’d share my issue and how I was able to resolve it. I was experiencing for days my iphone 12 Pro lagging while trying to open apps and I reset my phone as per the instructions provided here in this thread. While much of the steps worked, I was still having trouble opening my apps including my App Store. After 3 resets, I was able to finally open the app store application but still couldn’t get past anything else. It was when… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Marie Mendoza
1 year ago

my iphone 6 app called wealthsimple stopped working yesterday. i have tried to delete it and bring it up again i can see the app to on my phone but it doesn’t open. when i ask siri to open it she say i don’t have the app on my phone. but i do see it. please help.

David Lynch
1 year ago
Reply to  aby

I’ve had this issue on my iPhone before. Unfortunately, I had to fix the problem by backing up my iPhone, then performing a DFU restore.

Brenda Klocker
1 year ago

I have an iphone 13 and my kohls app won’t open. I have tried turning phone off and on, also delete app and reinstall, still won’t open

1 year ago
Reply to  Brenda Klocker

Same is happening with my bank app and I too using 13 pro

Angelique Ackers
1 year ago

My iPhone 6 will turn on Battery full sounds during working calls. The incoming ring tone and unlock work, but there are no apps. The screen is blank. The iPhone backup was done and up to date. The phone will lock and unlock the notifications display on the home screen, but it will not open.

1 year ago

My iPhone 12 Mini is updated to the latest iOS 15 and I wanted to try your methods but not only do none of my apps respond, but I can’t shut it off at all. Siri can’t do anything at all but tell me something must be wrong and to try again in a few moments. It’s a 4 month old phone, please can someone help me without having to send it in for costly repair?

1 year ago
Reply to  Andrea

My son’s phone is having the same problem. Is there a way to resolve this? He cannot open any of the apps. Not even Settings. He also cannot turn the phone off or make a call. It seems to be completely disabled. Help!

1 year ago

I have an iPhone 8. I can turn my phone on with the power button but I cant turn it off with it. When I try to click on apps they wont open. So I can’t power my phone off.

Jean Scott
2 years ago

Hi and thanks. My iPhone 11 suddenly quit opening apps over cellular. I have followed all the steps to correct, including a hard reset. I restored from an iCloud back up. My carrier account is still active and all the right buttons are selected or toggled off. Any further suggestion you can give?