Daily Tip: How to kill background apps in iOS 5

iPhone or iPad feeling kind of sluggish or an app freezing up on you and wondering how to manually force-quit multitasking apps to free up memory? iOS 5 does a great job automatically pausing or killing background tasks, but once and a while a big game, rogue process, or similar situation can drain resources or tie up memory. Luckily, iOS 5 makes it easy to quit these apps any time you like.

  1. Double click the Home button to bring up the multitasking Fast App Switcher.
  2. Touch-and-hold an app to put it into 'jiggly mode'.
  3. Tap the red minus-sign icon that appears at the top left corner of the app.
  4. Watch the app close and disappear from the Fast App Switcher.
  5. Hit the Home button again to exit jiggly mode.
  6. Hit the Home button one more time to return to your Home Screen.

That's it! Next time you notice you're iPhone or iPad is acting strangely or running slower than normal, just close a few of the apps you have running in the background. Problem solved!

Daily Tips range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you’d like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com.

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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There are 27 comments. Add yours.

sting7k says:

Off topic a bit but where did you get that background wallpaper Andrew?

Pete says:

Instead of pressing the Home button twice again at the end, I just tap the home screen above the App Switcher to exit the jiggly/app switcher mode. Lot faster.

kpalms88 says:

lol there's really no difference of how much faster it is to push down on the button or up on the screen is there? honestly..

allanes5 says:

This is one of the reasons why I like to Jailbreak.
You install SB Settings with the remove backbround widget.
Now to remove all your background apps you just swipe the top and hit the remove background button.
One step instead of having to delete each app manually.

Gary says:

Aside from Apple being an app-bully, I don't understand why there couldn't be an app for non-jailbroken iPhones.

Rockdogz97 says:

I'm assuming SB settings is a special app?

Andrew Wray says:

SbSettings is a jailbreak modification/app available in Cydia.

Dustoff-00 says:

I can get into the fast app switcher but when I press-and-hold the home button again I get the voice command. Not the ability to stop apps.

fayek says:

You press and hold an app icon, not the home button again.

Steveandco says:

I think you should add that not all the app who are in this menu are running in background ! People would get confused, the iPhone manage my itself the amount of app running in background for the other app it's just a "shortcut"

John P. says:

You're right, this is incorrect. AND removing an app from the multitasking bar DOES NOT "kill" it, it simply removes it from the bar. If the app is going to run in the background it's going to run in the background until iOS garbage collects it, makes room for something else, or you restart your iPad.
This article is incredibly misleading and bordering fully incorrect.

Richard Robert says:

It may be wrong but it does work. Yes, the iOS is supposed to close the apps automatically when some RAM is needed, so you shouldn't have to worry about closing the apps by yourself; but this function doesn't work all the time, and we find ourselves with apps bugging. So what should we do? Closing the apps manually is the simplest solution.

myPhone says:

FYI - steps 5 and 6 are unnecessary. Just tap on the screen anywhere above the multitask tray. It will return you to the home screen. With the potential for wear and tear, anything to avoid using the Home button more than you have to.

mgmiller68 says:

Thx for that fantastic tip about skipping steps 5 & 6. I had no idea about that! My often used Home button thanks you! :)

Andrew Wray says:

Hey thanks for the tip! :)

paulthefencer says:

There should be a way to turn off multitasking. I dont need it

Nobody says:

Don't worry about it. The way it works on iOS, very few things are ever actually "running" in the background.
Killing off tasks like this article suggests is not something you need to do routinely; just in the rare case something goes haywire and is slowing your phone down.

enntee says:

This is unnecessary. iOS keeps your recently used apps in memory so that when you switch back to them, they'll be where you left them. However, if the current app needs more memory, the system automatically removes older apps to free up their RAM (even if they are still displayed in the multitasking tray).
You may find the iPhone has often used the majority of its memory — and that's a good thing because those apps can launch faster. If the phone needs memory, it will kill off your least recently used apps automatically. There's really no need for you to do it (unless you're trying to kill your Skype connection, or GPS, etc).
Unused memory is wasted memory.

Remian8985 says:

"You may find the iPhone has often used the majority of its memory — and that's a good thing"
ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha .....oh man, CAN'T. STOP. LAUGHING.
My phone runs on something called "battery" FYI

Charles says:

Please reword this. You've probably just started an army of people who are going to start killing tasks routinely, which is exactly the opposite of how iOS is supposed to work.

Jennifer says:

Thank you! It was driving me crazy trying to figure out if an app had closed or not. This was very helpful.

Nienieng says:

No accses to the iTunes app store? iPhone is close to useless then. I have used mine on AT&T and Tmobile EDGE here and while it is acceptable, remember this is Apple and they want an optimal user experience (hence the hotspot deal).Unlocked iPhone 3GS on amazon? Probably not true factory unlocked. They are likely jailbroken and unlocked using the iPad baseband. This means gps doesn't work properly.

DanielRoca says:

I agree with the comments that say that this tip shouldn't be the fix for the problem, and in fact it's not my case. I cannot use Dictation on Twitter even if I "kill" all apps or even restard the iPhone. It works with other apps though.
In my case the Dic button is not greyed out. Only, when I press it, I get a double beep and no dictation.