I recently got a new iPhone and just like every other time, I wanted to start with a clean slate and install apps as I discovered I needed them. The only thing preventing me from setting up my new iPhone without restoring from a backup was the fact that I would lose my Messages and Health history. So now I have a new iPhone that has a lot of apps, many of which I probably don’t use, but I haven’t been able to discover an easy way to see a list of all the apps I have installed so I can figure out which ones to keep and which ones to delete.
This task has been on my Someday list in Things for a while. It has been one of those unimportant tasks that I’ve just grown tired of seeing and even recently considered deleting it all together. I’ve been sick the few days and haven’t had the energy to do work work, but I’ve been itching to do something. Today would be the day I would figure it all out. Somehow I was going to end up with a list (ideally a CSV) of all the apps installed on my iPhone so I could quickly and easily decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete.
I opened DuckDuckGo and started searching. It became immediately apparent I was not the only one that wanted to figure this out. After trying a few different search strings and hitting a bunch of dead ends, I landed on a Stack Exchange thread with the the answer – an app called Configurator, made by Apple no less. I wasn’t aware of it, but Apple obviously made the app for people that manage and configure lots of iOS devices. I downloaded the app on my MacBook Pro, fired it up and clicked on the Apps item in the left column. It looks something like this:
Once you’re looking at that list, you can choose Actions from the menu options and navigate to Export > Info, check Device Information, choose Installed Apps (and anything else you’d like in the resulting file) and click Export. In a matter of a few seconds or less, you’ll have a CSV you can open in your spreadsheet app of choice.
According to the resulting CSV, I have just short of 200 apps installed on my iPhone (198 to be exact) which is completely insane, but not entirely surprising. I most definitely do not use nearly 200 apps. This list wasn’t going to help me figure out which apps I use the most, but there were a few somewhat interesting insights. The four “oldest” apps, based on release date (July 11, 2008) were eBay (almost never use), NYTimes, Shazam and Yelp (do not like using). This makes sense given the iPhone App Store opened for business on July 10, 2008 and on July 11, the iPhone 3G was released and was the first iPhone that came pre-loaded with the App Store. So those four apps were some of the first apps that launched with the App Store. There were seven other apps installed on my iPhone that were released later that year – LinkedIn, Instapaper, Deliveries, Sonos, OpenTable, Amazon and Chase. The newest app I have installed is Knowable, a cool app with audio courses from experts, authors and academics that’s worth checking out.
I have a list, but it’s going to be more helpful to check my Screen Time stats. Last week I used 79 apps for at least 1 second, 56 apps more than 1 minute and only 9 apps were used for about an hour or more. I really wish I could export Screen Time data as easily as I could export the list of apps I have installed, but alas Apple has not made an API available. If I were feeling more inspired, I might do it manually, at least for the last few months, but alas…
Looking over the last several weeks, the apps I use the most didn’t change much and when they did it was due to traveling. Most weeks Firefox, Google Maps, Gmail, Messages, Tweetbot, Apollo, Spotify, Slack, Pocket Casts, YouTube and Drafts are the most used apps in terms of the amount of time those apps are actively on my screen. Other apps like Stocks, Fantastical, AirVisual, Oura, Nest, 1Password, Halide, Lyft, Waking Up and others are used regularly, but are referenced for minutes or seconds, which meant they weren’t ranking high in the context of screen time. Interesting, but not as helpful as I wanted it to be. I went back to the CSV, created a new column and simply typed yes, no or maybe next to each app, filtered and sorted. I identified 104 apps for deletion.
One bonus Configurator feature I discovered was that I could delete the apps much faster and easier in Configurator than I could on my iPhone. Just click on the Actions menu, select Remove > Apps, change to the list view, hold down the command key, select the apps you want to delete, press the Remove Apps button and you’re good to go. 💥