The Apple TV can save storage space by temporarily uninstalling apps you rarely use without deleting your data. And when you need an offloaded app, tvOS will automatically reinstall it along with app data. In this tutorial, we show you how to offload unused apps on the Apple TV.
Whether you need more storage space for a tvOS update, apps you want to use on your Apple TV, games you’d like to play or more, offloading unused apps is one of the best ways to do it.
As opposed to uninstalling—which removes the installed app from your device along with all of its data—offloading removes the app itself from the device but leaves any app-realated settings and user data intact. This lets you easily reinstall the app and continue right where you left off.
- Offloading: Deletes the app, but keeps its documents and data.
- Uninstalling: Deletes the app, which removes the app and its related data.
In both cases, you’ll free up your Apple TV storage used by the app binary.
Offloading Apple TV apps require the tvOS 14.5 software or later.
To see the version number of the software running on your Apple TV, go to Settings → General → About. The version number of the installed tvOS software is listed there. To update your Apple TV, go to Settings → System → Software Updates, then choose “Update Software.”
Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial embedded right ahead to learn how to offload unused Apple TV apps to free up tvOS storage for your favorite apps and content.
How to offload Apple TV apps
To have your Apple TV automatically offload unused tvOS apps, you’ll have to flip a dedicated switch in the Settings app that comes preinstalled on the device as part of the tvOS software.
- Open Settings on your Apple TV HD or Apple TV 4K.
- Choose “Apps” from the root list.
- Set “Offload Unused Apps” to “On” to turn on this feature.
According to the feature’s description, turning this on will “automatically remove unused apps, but keep all documents and data.” Apple explicitly states that reinstalling the offloaded app will automatically “place your data” provided the app is still available in the App Store.
With this enabled, the tvOS operating system will automatically remove apps you rarely use when your Apple TV storage gets low. tvOS intelligently manages temporary caches and your Apple TV storage so there’s nothing else to switch on as this feature works in the background.
The icon of an offloaded app is not removed and stays on your Apple TV’s Home screen instead. However, you’ll notice that it’s darkened a bit. That’s to indicate the app has been offloaded. Also, a cloud icon in a corner indicates the app can be re-downloaded with a click.
How to reinstall offloaded apps
To reinstall an offloaded app, go to the App Store on your Apple TV and download it as you normally would. Alternatively, you can simply click its Home screen icon.
Offloading unused apps is a per-device setting.
If you have several Apple TVs in your household, you can configure this setting on each device separately. With offloading unused apps enabled, only the apps on that particular Apple TV will be managed automatically. In other words, this won’t affect other Apple TVs even if the Home screen syncing feature between multiple Apple TVs has been turned on.