How to cancel subscriptions purchased through Apple

Your subscriptions can be seen all in one place on your iPhone. Here’s how to cancel a subscription and effectively post-date it.

Lots of apps and services give you free trial subscriptions. Others give you a really good deal on the first year. Both are proven methods of gaining new subscribers, and there’s benefit to both sides. However, when the trial periods are over, you start paying, or paying more, and that’s not nice. You need to know how to cancel subscriptios. Here’s how– and here’s when.

When, you ask? Well, if you already know that you’re not going to continue to subscribe to some service past the end of the current subscription period you should look into canceling it now, while you’re thinking of it. You probably don’t have to cancel on the last day– do it now, and you can enjoy your subscription to the very end of the term, knowing that it will quietly expire without becoming expensive, even if you forget about it. Probably. You do have to read the fine print.

Anyhow, no matter when yo duo it, it’s all done in the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.

Note: I’m using an iPhone (or iPad) here but that doesn’t limit me to looking only at iPhone (or iPad) subscriptions. Anything I subscribed to via Apple shows, whether it’s for iOS , the Mac, or the Apple TV.

Note 2: this is a great opportunity to remind you that the Settings app is searchable. The search box is at the very top of the Settings app, so go there, start typing what you’re looking for (“subscriptions”) and voilá! We can see that Subscriptions is found in the Apple ID settings. So now we can just tap and go.

Searching for Subscriptions in iOS Settings
Searching for Subscriptions in iOS Settings

We’re taken to the Apple ID settings…

iOS Apple ID screen showing Subscriptions button
iOS Apple ID screen showing Subscriptions button

… and then, without doing anything, we’re taken to the Subscription settings themselves (it’s magic!).

Subscriptions in iOS Settings
Subscriptions in iOS Settings

Here we see my subscriptions. The good news is, some of them come from very good digital citizens, such as BBEdit, which makes everything about the subscription very clear, including what happens if I cancel:

BBEdit's subscription information. Notice how clearly they explain what will happen if I cancel.
BBEdit’s subscription information. Notice how clearly they explain what will happen if I cancel.

Here’s a subscription with Apple itself (iTunes Match):

iTunes Match subscription information
iTunes Match subscription information

Other subscriptions come from companies that are trying to make it very very hard to unsubscribe, for example, the New York Times, which offered a $49 one-year introductory subscription with no way to cancel (but four ways to resubscribe, at a higher rate). Two attempts to resolve this with the New York Times “customer service advocates” got me nowhere. I guess I’ll see what happens on June 9th, 2021.

New York Times subscription, with no way to cancel.
New York Times subscription, with no way to cancel.

Some trials, such as the Apple TV+ free year promotion, should not be turned off until you’re really done with them, because as soon as you click “Cancel” your access to the service is gone. This is an example of “read the fine print.”

Apple TV+ free year promotion ends as soon as you click "Cancel Free Trial."
Apple TV+ free year promotion ends as soon as you click “Cancel Free Trial.”

In Conclusion

There are many kinds of subscriptions but they’re all handled in the same place in the iOS Settings. You should check out those settings to see what you’re subscribed to– you may be paying for things you’re not using, and you may be on trials that are going to roll over if you don’t take action.


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Author: Christian Boyce

Christian Boyce is a Mac and iPhone expert specializing in teaching people how to use Apple devices better, to get more done with them, and to have more fun doing it. He bought his first Mac (a Mac Plus) in 1986 and his first iPhone in 2007. He's written books and magazine articles, and given seminars at Macworld Expo, MacFair/LA, and the California Computer Expo. Over 30 years in the business.

2 thoughts on “How to cancel subscriptions purchased through Apple”

    1. Yes, really a drag when a subscription doesn’t follow the rules. It’s so nice when they do. It ought to be consistent but it’s not– I get a lot of calls asking “How do I unsubscribe to xyz tv stream” which is why I wrote the article, but not every situation is the same.

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