iPhone and iPad users: Do not regularly force quit apps by swiping them away, warn experts

“Potentially millions of people are wasting time, battery and finger energy on an entirely unnecessary and perhaps unhelpful exercise, every single day,” Andrew Griffin reports for The Independent.iPhone users are busily swiping away apps to force them to quit when there is no need to at all.”

“Experts have warned yet again that there is hardly ever any need to force quit apps – done by double tapping the home button and then flicking the apps up and away – despite the fact that it is common practice,” Griffin reports. “The latest round of warnings came after Apple pundit John Gruber wrote a blog post warning people that there is no need to flick the apps away.”

“The practice of swiping away apps is based on a misconception about how iOS works on iPhones and iPads, he said. And not only is swiping away apps unnecessary, it might even be counterproductive,” Griffin reports. “People might presume that it’s important to quit apps to stop them taking up memory or battery while they are sitting in the background. But that’s wrong.”

Read more in the full article here.

“That’s not how iOS works,” Gruber writes. “The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively ‘frozen,’ severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using. iOS is really, really good at this. It is so good at this that unfreezing a frozen app takes up way less CPU (and energy) than relaunching an app that had been force quit. Not only does force quitting your apps not help, it actually hurts. Your battery life will be worse and it will take much longer to switch apps if you force quit apps in the background.”

“There’s an entire genre of YouTube videos devoted to benchmarking new phones by running them through a series of apps and CPU-intensive tasks repeatedly, going through the loop twice. Once from a cold boot and the second time immediately after the first first loop,” Gruber writes. “Here’s a perfect example, pitting a Samsung Galaxy S8 against an iPhone 7 Plus. Note that no apps are manually force quit on either device. The iPhone easily wins on the first loop, but where the iPhone really shines is on the second loop. The S8 has to relaunch all (or at least almost all) of the apps, because Android has forced them to quit while in the background to reclaim the RAM they were using. On the iPhone, all (or nearly all) of the apps re-animate almost instantly.”

“An awful lot of very hard work went into making iOS work like this. It’s a huge technical advantage that iOS holds over Android,” Gruber writes. “And every iPhone user in the world who habitually force quits background apps manually is wasting all of the effort that went into this while simultaneously wasting their own device’s battery life and making everything slower for themselves.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Force quitting apps in iOS is only for extraordinary circumstances when an app is misbehaving, not something to be done on a regular basis.

So, as we’ve been saying since 2010, if you’re doing it, just stop.


Don’t worry, not all of these apps are “running.” In fact, most of them are not. Those 42 apps are the last 42 apps you used, they’re not churning in the background, sucking up your battery life. Think of them sort of like Han Solo encased in carbonite; they’re in suspended animation, so they spring back to life right where you left them when tapped. So, that app list is there for your convenience, not to stress you out, so don’t worry, be happy! … Your iPhone is taking care of multitasking, so you don’t have to. — MacDailyNews, June 28, 2010

Still not convinced? Take it from no less than the ultimate authority:

Just use [iOS multitasking] as designed, and you’ll be happy. No need to ever quit apps. – Steve Jobs’ email, June 29, 2010

Apple’s software SVP: Quitting multitasking apps in iOS not necessary – March 10, 2016
Steve Jobs on iOS multitasking: ‘Just use it as designed and you’ll be happy’ – June 29, 2010
Why is my iPhone 4 running 42 apps? Don’t worry, it’s not – June 28, 2010


  1. Let me quote the repetition in this article.

    1. “there is no need to at all.”

    2. “…there is hardly ever any need to force quit apps…”

    3. “…there is no need to flick the apps away.”

    4. “And not only is swiping away apps unnecessary,…”

        1. Oh I know! The problem is that there is no such thing as ‘force quitting’ in iOS as described in the article. It’s a misnomer, an inaccuracy, an error, a blunder. It’s wrong. So where did the term come from, seeing as there is no process for ‘force quitting’ in iOS? You just Quit.

          For those with severe confusion:
          – When you move along from an app, hitting the Home button, going to the desktop and opening another, or double-clicking Home to choose another running app, you’re suspending the app you left behind. It’s still running. You have not quit it.

          When you double-click Home then drag UP an app’s window in the selection interface, THEN you’re Quitting it. It’s dumped out of memory, gone.

          The only equivalent of force quitting I know of is shutting down your iOS device.

  2. If my iPhone 6s never froze, I might believe that I can leave all my apps running. Has yours ever frozen in the Phone app so you cannot dial or switch to another app? I will keep flicking apps closed until the iOS won’t let me do it anymore. I call it “quitting,” not “force quitting” the apps.

    1. Just based on the article, the implication is that iOS runs a non-forced quit app at a very minimal level so that the iOS hardly notices any memory usem and quitting an app seems redundant, therefore. But the article does not seem authoritative enough one way or the other.

  3. Question: if I have an app in the background that has permission to access my location only when running, does the app get to continue tracking my location if it is in the background? One reason I force quit apps is because I don’t want them tracking my whereabouts. If anyone knows the answer to this let me know if I’m wasting my time.

    1. Most apps, I’ll call them ‘good’ apps, allow you to choose whether they can track (surveil) you:
      A) At all times
      B) Only when the app is running
      C) Never.

      In iOS 11 ALL apps will be forced to have these three choices. No apps will be allowed to track you at all times unless you deliberately approve of them doing so.

    1. Exactly, the new design of the app selector from a few years ago makes it even more unusable already. It’s necessary to quit many apps regularly to have access to the 3-4 you may want to quickly switch back to. Scrolling through dozens of apps takes longer than clicking the icon in the first place, especially when the app “cards” now overlap and you don’t always click the one you want. Stupid article makes it sound like you’ll damage your device if you quit apps. “Wasting finger energy” LOL would like to see a picture of the banana slug “reporter”. “Experts warned…” asinine.

  4. I was using an iPhone 5 until recently. At the end it was grinding to a halt and becoming unusable. I remembered this Force-quit technique and tried it, and instantly the phone was back to normal speed again.

    This tells me all I need to know, thank you very much.

  5. This is so untrue. When a newly launched app is misbehaving, I can normally correct the problem by swipe closing all the apps except the one that won’t work. Don’t tell me we don’t have to do this when we clearly do.

  6. Sorry John, but what you’re describing only works when sufficient RAM is provided on an iOS device. If your iOS devices have plenty of RAM to hold the guts of all those apps, then you’re fine and I support your point. But if you’re running a low RAM device, such as the lowly iPod Touch, you damned well had better get used to quitting (it’s not “force quitting” BTW) apps in the iOS interface or you’re going to find your apps start spontaneously dying when you attempt to boot them. Clear the RAM and they’ll typically run. (If they don’t at that point and they’re rated for your version of iOS and your device, contact the developer. They screwed up).

    IOW: Not So Simple John.

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