Posts Tagged purchased apps

As covered in an earlier How-To column, the Purchased apps list is extremely handy for seeing which apps have been downloaded on to your account, and to re-download apps that have been purchased already. By accessing it from the Updates section on iPhone/iPod touch or just selecting its tab on the iPad, a whole world of old apps is there to be rediscovered.

Well, at least if you’re not an appaholic. See, on iOS 6 in particular, if you have a lot of apps in your purchased history (including free downloads), it appears to cause the App Store to crash when trying to pull up the list. It ain’t easy accessing a list of over 1600 apps, apparently. However, there’s a two-fold solution.

First, you can use iTunes on your computer to view your Purchased history. Open up iTunes. Click on iTunes Store in the left sidebar.

Click the Home icon in the upper bar to the left of Music to go the home screen if you’re not already there. On the right side of the window, click Purchased.

Click Apps on the top bar. This takes you to a list with all the apps you’ve ever downloaded, all loaded up at once. It may take a minute, and if you have like 100,000 apps downloaded, it may still crash, but for most people, even the crazy ones like me, it shouldn’t crash! Apps can be downloaded to your computer, and then installed on your device when it is next synchronized. It may also work with automatic downloads enabled.

For those who want to re-download apps that have been removed from public view on the App Store, they will not show up when using the Search bar to filter out the list. However, they will appear when scrolling through the list. Tapping the Sort By: drop-down menu and selecting Name should make it easy to find – all apps are loaded at once, so scroll with care.

Now, for those that may have apps that they really wouldn’t care to see in their Purchased list, like if its presence is causing the App Store to crash, iTunes can be used to remove these apps from the list. Just hover your pointer over the app’s icon, and click the x that appears in the upper-left corner. This will hide it from your Purchased history.

As well, when you go on the App Store, the app will not say “Install” if you search for it, it will appear as if you’ve never downloaded it. Note that for paid apps, this does not mean that you’ve lost your record of having purchased it. If you try to re-buy it, the App Store will pull up a prompt saying that it’s free because you own a previous version of the item. This way, if you change your mind or accidentally remove an app you didn’t mean to get rid of, you can add it back without penalty.

In traveling the internet for interesting iOS conundrums to solve, I came across this one on Reddit: “How do I get games that are no longer offered on the App Store?” Now, this was both referring to buying games not available for sale any more, and a false positive at that. But it raises a very good question, one that some people may not realize: it is possible to get a game that is no longer on the App Store if it was once purchased on an iTunes account.

See, when an app gets pulled from public view on the App Store for whatever reason, Apple still allows users to reinstall the app, even if it’s deleted. The thing to remember about this is that purchases are tied to an Apple ID, not to a device. This means that as long as a device is authorized with that Apple ID, either through iTunes or by logging in to the account on the device, that app can be downloaded to that device. This means that some apps that may have been once downloaded and since updated can be redownloaded if once purchased or downloaded, even to a new device – and it also works if the app has gone universal.

For users who sync apps to iTunes, the app should still work if it’s in the library. Just set it up to sync with the device of choice, and it’s good to go. Well, assuming it still works on modern iOS versions.

The other method is to go through Purchased history. Now, one would think that it would be as easy as just searching for it and seeing if it pops up, right? Wrong. This did work shortly after the Purchased tab was introduced in iOS 4.3.5, but Apple changed it so that deleted apps do not show up when searching any more when searching. But they’re still there. It just takes a lot of patience. On iPhone/iPod touch, the Purchased section is available under Updates, at the top of the list. Open this section, and just keep scrolling through the list (either sorted by date or by alphabet, depending on which seems like will pull the app up sooner) until the desired app is found. On iPad, tap the arrow in either the upper or lower right corner to keep going to the next page until the app is found.

This works as recently as iOS 5.1.1 on the App Store – I used it personally to redownload Casey’s Contraptions after it was pulled shortly after the Amazing Alex launch. Some other interesting apps to download if they’re pulled and presumably lost: iDOS, the original Tetris by EA (sans IAP), and heck, even Tris, possibly the first big iOS pulled app controversy, is still available. No app truly dies, it just takes a lot of searching to find. Happy hunting!

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