How to Truly Hide iOS’ Built-In Apps Using a Configuration Profile

One of the most annoying things about the iPhone and iPad is the inability to hide built-in apps like Tips, Stocks, and News. Apple’s iOS 9.3 finally adds a way to hide these apps from your home screen, though it isn’t pretty.

Consider Doing This the Easy Way Instead

This process requires you set up your iPhone or iPad as a “supervised” device and create a configuration profile using Apple Configurator. You’ll need a Mac to do this, as modern versions of Apple Configurator only run on OS X. Your device will be wiped when you “supervise” it, so you’ll have to set it up from scratch afterwards, too.

Put another way: this process is really intended for larger organizations and not average iPhone and iPad users, so Apple hasn’t just provided an easy Settings screen for configuring this.

Instead of using this advanced tweak, consider just dumping your unused applications into a folder on your last home screen. They’ll only use a combined single square on one of your home screens, and you’ll never see them. It’s a decent enough solution when considering the amount of work the alternative takes–but if really want to completely hide those apps, read on.
Step One: Create a Configuration Profile

First, you’ll need to create a custom configuration profile. Open the Mac App Store on your Mac, search for “Apple Configurator,” and install the free app.

Launch Apple Configurator and head to File > New Profile. On the General screen, enter a name to help you remember what the profile is for. You could name the profile “Hide Apps,” for example. You can customize the other information here, if you like, but it’s not necessary.

Click the “Restrictions” category under General, click “Configure,” and then click the “Apps” tab.

Under “Restrict App Usage (supervised only),” click the drop-down box and select “Do not allow some apps.” Click the “+” button and you’ll see a box that allows you to search for and add apps you want to block. Type the name of an app you want to hide and select the app from the list.

For example, let’s say you wanted to block the included “Tips” app. Just search for “Tips” here and you’ll see an app named “Tips” that’s a “System App.” This means it’s part of the iOS operating system. You’ll also see “Store Apps” here–this allows you to prevent users from installing and running specific apps from Apple’s App Store.

Repeat this process to add all the included apps you want to block. When you’re done, click “File” and select “Save.” Save your configuration profile to a file.

Step Two: Supervise Your Device and Install the Profile

Warning: This process wipes your iPhone or iPad. You may want to manually create a backup before continuing.

You’ll need to disable the “Find My iPhone” or “Find My iPad” option in under Settings > iCloud on your device before you wipe it. If you don’t, you’ll just see an error message when you try.

Once you do this, connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac using its included cable and launch Apple Configurator. Double-click the connected device on the main Apple Configurator screen, then click the “Prepare” button at the top of the screen to get started.

Go through the configuration process, selecting “Manual” configuration and “Do not enroll in MDM” on the first few screens. These options are for larger organizations, not for configuring a single device or a few devices.

When you reach the Supervise Devices screen, be sure to activate the “Supervise devices” checkbox. Leave the “Allow devices to pair with other computers” option enabled or you won’t be able to pair your device with other computers.

Continue through the wizard afterwards, using the default settings the wizard provides and generating a new supervision identity. It will eventually “Prepare” your device, wiping it and setting it back up as a device that’s “supervised” by your Mac.

When the process is finished, it’s time to install the configuration profile. Double-click the device in the Apple Configurator window, click “Profiles” in the sidebar, click the “Add” button, and then select the configuration profile file you created earlier.

Note that you can add the configuration profile to an unsupervised device, but it just won’t do anything. This particular setting will only take effect if your device is supervised.

When you’re finished, you should find that your iPhone or iPad has the correct apps completely hidden from your home screen. On iOS 9.3, you’ll see a lock screen message telling you your device is supervised by the organization name you entered when setting this up. However, it won’t actually be further monitored or restricted unless you configure other settings via one or more additional configuration profiles.
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