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Fix an iOS device that refuses to launch 3rd-party Apps iOS devices
I was recently stymied by my iPhone 3GS that refused to launch any third-party apps. I would open an app, the start screen of that app would flash, and then I would be dropped back to the home screen as if the app crashed.

Due to extenuating circumstances, I was unable to restore from a backup. Also, I wasn't at my usual computer that manages my iPhone, so there was the fear that I would lose all my non-iTunes Store acquired music, apps, etc. And to top it all off, iCloud restoration was not an option as I'm still running iOS 4.x.

Before I stumbled on the solution, I believed the only option available to me was to wipe my phone and reload iOS from scratch.

You can try the following steps to restore launching of third-party apps:

1. Download any free app to your iOS device (you can delete it later). Third-party apps should now open. If not, continue with the following:

2. Connect your iOS device to a Mac or PC with an empty iTunes library on it (if necessary, use option when opening iTunes to force a new library location, or create a new user account with an empty library).

If you need to restore functionality and you're not at your usual computer, make sure you first go to iTunes preferences, click on Devices and select Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically. Note: Make sure you do not allow iTunes to sync your iOS device to any different copy of iTunes, as you will lose all your iPhone's contacts, notes, apps, music, etc.!

3. In the iTunes source list, right-click your iOS device and select Transfer Purchases from [your device name].

4. Let it transfer all your purchased music and downloaded apps to iTunes. (You may need to sign into iTunes.)

After iTunes transfers your purchases, try to open a third-party app. If it still doesn't work, try opening an app after each step of the following:

5. Right-click your iOS device and select Backup (note that this is different than sync).

6. Reboot your iDevice

Hopefully these steps will save someone a lengthy troubleshooting session to get their apps working! Thanks goes to Alvin Alexander at for providing step 1.

PS: If you perform step 5 on someone else's computer, make sure you use secure delete on the backup files once you've finished. On Macs, the backup is located ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ and on Windows it's located C:UsersuserAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup.

[kirkmc adds: Fortunately, I'm unable to test this, bit it makes sense. It's worth posting in case it might help someone resolve a similar problem. Naturally, the best way to solve this is to simply restore the device, but if, like the poster, the computer than syncs with your iOS device isn't available, this is a good option. Or iCloud backups, if your device is compatible with that feature.]
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