Developers can now mark apps as unlisted, making them findable only via URL

App Store icon
App Store icon (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple now allows developers to mark apps as unlisted.
  • Unlisted apps don't appear in search and categories.
  • Apps can still be found via their specific URL.

Apple is now allowing developers to mark apps as unlisted, effectively removing them from the App Store unless someone has their URL.

When an app is marked as unlisted it won't appear in any App Store search results, charts, recommendations, or categories. In fact, the only way to access an unlisted app is to click or tap its URL on a website, for example. Apple confirmed the change in new developer documentation.

Release your apps that aren't suited for public distribution as unlisted on the App Store, discoverable only with a direct link. Unlisted apps don't appear in any App Store categories, recommendations, charts, search results, or other listings. They can also be accessed through Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager. Apps for specific organizations, special events, or research studies, or apps used as employee resources or sales tools are good candidates for unlisted distribution.

Developers will need to submit a request to have their app marked as unlisted and that request can be made at any time, even if the app is already visible in the App Store. Apple is also keen to point out that this method of unlisting apps is not designed to give developers a way to offer beta versions via the App Store — TestFlight should still be used. Apps submitted and marked as unlisted will continue to work their way through App Store review and must be finished, functional versions.

The benefits of marking an app as unlisted are obvious and could allow companies to offer apps specifically for in-house use without making them visible to the public, for example.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.