How to Fix Your iPhone’s ‘App Tracking Transparency’ If It’s Grayed Out in iOS 14.5

How to Fix Your iPhone’s ‘App Tracking Transparency’ If It’s Grayed Out in iOS 14.5

Apple finally released its much-anticipated App Tracking Transparency feature with the launch of iOS 14.5, and it’s incredibly helpful if you want some fine-grain control over which apps can track other aspects of your digital activity. That’s assuming, of course, the feature isn’t grayed out for you.

There seems to be a number of iOS users who can’t seem to access Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature at all. When they pull up Settings > Privacy > Tracking, the setting is present, they just can’t adjust it in any way. Here’s how that looks in both instances, with un-grayed on top and grayed on the bottom:

Apple recently published a support page describing three scenarios in which you might be unable to adjust with that critical toggle:

  • For users with child accounts or under age 18 by birth year, signed in with their Apple ID

  • If your Apple ID is managed by an educational institution or uses a configuration profile that limits tracking

  • If your Apple ID was created in the last 3 days

However, that list doesn’t quite cover everyone’s experiences. And I’ve seen all kinds of troubleshooting techniques people have tried in hopes to ungray the App Tracking Transparency toggle — up to, and including, restoring their iPhone from a backup or factory-resetting it.

You don’t need to get that extreme, though. If you can’t enable “Allow Apps to Request to Track,” that’s annoying, but it could be a lot worse. Its untoggled state actually means that you’re denying apps the ability to ask for additional permissions to track you. When off, by default, apps are subject to the following restrictions:

…the app developer can’t access the system advertising identifier (IDFA), which is often used to track. The app is also not permitted to track your activity using other information that identifies you or your device, like your email address.

So, really, it’s an annoying issue that’s potentially a bug, but it’s only keeping you from loosening your privacy, not bettering it. If you must have an ungrayed setting, then here’s what I recommend trying:

  • Start with strategic restarts: Restart your iPhone, sign in and sign out of the App Store, then try signing in and out of iCloud (especially via Settings > Apple ID > Media & Purchases, which some claim to have had success using). Note that you might only be able to get the toggle working temporarily, so check back after a few hours to see if you can still adjust it.

    Also, try rebooting your iPhone after you do each sign-out (one at a time), and then sign back in when your iPhone powers back up again.

  • Adjust “Personalised Recommendations”: This setting, found via Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising, is another troubleshooting technique I’ve seen mentioned. I’m not sure why this would directly connect to app requests, but it’s an easy on/off that’s worth 10 seconds to try.
  • Upgrade to iOS 14.6 beta 1: This one’s a bit more drastic, but I’ve also seen reports that people have been able to “unlock” the feature by bumping up to to the developer beta of the next iOS update. I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you absolutely need a stable iPhone in which all of your apps and features work perfectly — this being the very first developer beta for iOS 14.6 — but it’s an option.

Note that having the option grayed out is different than having the option enabled and having no apps to manage. The latter is a normal, expected behaviour; when an app needs these permissions or you install a new one that wants them, the app will ask you, and you’ll be able to change your decision when it then shows up on that screen. If nothing’s there right now, don’t sweat it.


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