I have a single app that needs to be reinstalled. I have tried all tricks known to man in attempts to get it to work, but all have failed. There is a lot of data in this app that I'd rather not lose. It isn't explicitly iCloud-enabled, and it's not a game, so there's no hope of Game Center restoring anything. How, if possible, can I reinstall it without losing my data?

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    Why do you believe that reinstalling it is necessary?
    – bneely
    Feb 3, 2012 at 5:35
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    Which app is it? Feb 3, 2012 at 11:05
  • @bneely I've tried everything else.
    – Tuesday
    Feb 3, 2012 at 23:02
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    This is just my opinion, but I'm skeptical that reinstalling an iOS app is the solution. How do you think the contents of the application were incorrectly modified? The way iOS is designed and implemented makes this unlikely.
    – bneely
    Feb 9, 2012 at 8:30
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    User data is modifiable and the application itself (I expect) is not. You could have a case of data corruption, and after reinstalling the app with the same data, you may find you have the same problem as before. (I should point out that I'm still not clear on exactly what problem you are experiencing.) I don't know of a way to accomplish your goal. PhoneDisk as mentioned below sounds like a good option and I think you should find a computer where you are able to use that. Just prepare for the possibility that the data is the problem (not necessarily your fault; could be programming error.)
    – bneely
    Feb 9, 2012 at 20:07

7 Answers 7


While I never tried it myself, in theory you could use something like PhoneDisk to open the app's private folder and copy all the content to your computer. Then, after deleting and reinstalling the app, you should be able to copy the content back.

  • That's a good answer, but unfortunately I don't have access to a computer which I have admin privileges for, which would be necessary to install PhoneDisk.
    – Tuesday
    Feb 3, 2012 at 23:08

Xcode can reinstall an app. Go to Window -> Devices and click on your device on the left. You can tap the '+' button and browse for an app, or just drag any app you want onto the 'Installed apps' section. You can even drag an app icon straight from iTunes. The app will be reinstalled, over the old one, without erasing any data, documents, caches, etc.

  • First, you must get the app from iTunes App Store and/or locate it in ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Mobile Applications folder. Then, connect your device to the Mac with a USB cable and follow the above instructions. You can also cross-country reinstall or update an app, if it is not available anymore in your country's App Store. All you need is an Apple ID registered to another country where the app is available. Then sign in to iTunes with that Apple ID and get the app from the App Store. After that, use Xcode to install the downloaded app over the old one without erasing any data.
    – Rockallite
    Jun 26, 2016 at 14:49
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    Worked for me on 10.3.2
    – MrCheatak
    Sep 13, 2017 at 7:23

Reinstalling the application will almost certainly not solve your problem. iOS applications are digitally signed. If even a single byte is changed, iOS will refuse to run it. What you will be reinstalling will be identical to what you currently have installed.

The problem is far more likely to be with your data or the interpretation of it. There's probably a bug in the application that has either deleted your data or fails to recognise it. You should contact the developers to try to diagnose what is happening here.

You can get your data off your device by using a tool like iExplorer, or, if the application has enabled it, iTunes File Sharing (which is available in the Apps tab for your device in iTunes).


As Hui explained, an app can be reinstalled without the loss of it's data by deleting or renaming the iTunesMetadata.plist file in it's directory.

Terminal works as well as iFile for this purpose, but it's tiny and free. A Terminal command to accomplish this for Facebook:

rm $(dirname $(find -name Facebook.app))/iTunesMetadata.plist

I've just had to reinstall after two failed updates and I've had to do this fairly often in the past, everyone suggesting that doing so is unlikely to help with whatever issue timothymh is experiencing might have terrific net connections. No, iOS won't allow the failed installs to run, but it won't let you retry AND keep your data either.


The only way to reinstall an app is by deleting the app and all it's data and then installing again. Unless you have a way to export/copy the data (for example: in app export/import, iTunes file transfer, DropBox/iCloud sync etc).

I would try to do a full backup and restore of the device to see if that fixes it for you (I don't know if all tricks known to man included this).

  • Thanks, but that doesn't help. It doesn't have any export feature, and as a matter of fact a restoring to backup was actually what caused it.
    – Tuesday
    Feb 3, 2012 at 23:10

If your iPhone is jailbroken, you can delete the app's metadata and then re-install the app.

You can use SBSettings to find the app's path, then in iFile go to this directory and delete iTunesMetadata.plist. The App Store will no longer see the app as installed and you can re-install it and keep your data.

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    Can you please add some details (maybe using one specific application as a sample) on how to do this?
    – nohillside
    Feb 11, 2013 at 6:43

I had the same problem so I went to the app's store page thing and updated it from there

  • Updating apps is very different from reinstalling, plus that solution only works when there is an update available.
    – Tuesday
    Jan 17, 2015 at 15:08

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