Daily Tip: How to customize iPhone and iPad multitasking [Jailbreak]

Fast App Switcher using SwitcherMod Tweak

Curious how to make iOS 4 multitasking on iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad behave the way you want it to? If you're Jailbroken, you have several options to choose from to help you make multitasking a little less cluttered and a lot more efficient. We'll show you how after the break!

There's a couple of things you'll need to do before we get started. First and foremost, you'll have to jailbreak your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad if you haven't already (a very easy process). We've thrown up a few great how-to articles detailing the process using Greenpois0n, Limera1n and PwnageTool to help get you started. Once you're jailbroken you'll want to head over to Cydia and install the following packages:

  • Backgrounder (free)
  • SwitcherMod (free)
  • Five Icon Switcher (free)


Backgrounder is a system-wide extension that allows for full customization of which apps are allowed to continue running in the background after you return to the homescreen. The default way iOS 4 handles multi-tasking is completely reliant on the developer updating their app to support the different APIs Apple has made available. Unfortunately for older apps that haven't yet updated to support such features, iOS will kill the app when returning to the homescreen. Backgrounder fixes this by allowing all apps to run in the background by default. In addition, the app lets you choose which method of backgrounding to use (iOS native or Backgrounder's more traditional implementation). You can also use it to filter out apps that you don't want backgrounded.

Backgrounder Global Settings

Backgrounder will also put a small indicator badge on the bottom-right corner of any app that are backgrounded, making it easy to quickly tell which apps are multitasking. For the best results, we suggest using 'Auto Detect' across the board under the Global Settings pane.


SwitcherMod is an extension that lets you customize the app switcher in iOS, including letting you bypass the 'hold to wiggle' method for closing apps. Instead, when you bring up the app switcher with this option turned on, the close button will automatically appear over each icon, a much quicker and more efficient way of killing backgrounded apps.

SwitcherMod Options Pane

In addition, SwitcherMod will let you change the behavior of how the app switcher displays apps that aren't actually running in the background. Something I personally find annoying about iOS 4 is when I see an app in the app switcher that isn't actually running in the background. Instead of thinking of the app switcher as a recently-used app launcher, I prefer using it as more of a place to go where I can see all of the apps that are actually open and running, which is a much more natural execution of the concept in general.

Five Icon Switcher

The last tweak you'll want to grab is Five Icon Switcher, which lets you set the amount of icons shown in the app switcher. You can set up to ten apps, but I prefer setting it to five in order to match the five icons in my dock.

Bonus tip: Users who want more than five apps in their app switcher can download Shrink from cydia ($0.99 cents), which does exactly what the name implies and shrinks down the icons in the app switcher with additional options to shrink icons in your dock and on the Springboard (iPhone Home Screen system) as well. This allows for a cleaner look when there's more than 4 apps in the app switcher.

Although Apple did a pretty amazing job with their multi-tasking system, we think these mods make it even better. Let us know if you have any questions or even better mods you know of in the comments below!

Tips of the day will 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. (If it’s especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we’ll even give ya a reward…)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

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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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to customize iPhone and iPad multitasking [Jailbreak]


That's all great, and I actively use SwitcherMod and Five Icon Switches, but what I really want is ProSwitcher updated for iOS 4. The whole multitasking tray is just lame. Apple should have ripped off the card style multitasking from Palm and be done with it...

These will drain your battery life just look at the pre it dies in 4 hours at the longest a phone does not need to mutitask to the extent of a computer, not yet

I don't see how switcher mod would kill the battery. I can understand leaving a bunch of apps running in the background killing your battery but I am curious if the other two extensions will use more battery is backgrounder is not used?

I've been using "Remove Background" to manage what's running in the background. Basically a double-tap on the status bar closes all backgrounded apps except for the ones you've set up with exceptions (ipod, navigation, etc).

If you go to the settings for five icon switcher you can customize the amount of icons per page. Shrink would not be needed.

Shrink is only optional for those who'd like to keep an uncluttered and clean look with multiple icons in the app switcher dock. If you have 7 or more, for example, app icons will begin to overlap and the app switch will appear quite cluttered.

Is there any problem when you use multifl0w with the native multitask of the iPhone? any conflicts that crash the iPhone or when you install moltufl0w it disable the native multitasking?

@chrono_x from my experiences with Multifl0w on both 4.0.1 and 4.1, I haven't seen any conflicts with the extensions mentioned above.

iOS needs the card metaphor. I don't understand why apple put the "tray" in- it's just terrible. No matter what you do to it, it doesn't work. I've had to tell other iOS users that it's even there! Granted, it's better than some of the multiasking UIs on other systems- Android and BlackBerry I'm looking at you- but it just can't compare to Palm's card metaphor, the bread and butter of webOS. It's ingenius. I use a a Pre Plus and a Pre 2 every day (the Pre Plus is on Verizon, and it's my day-to-day phone, and I got the Pre 2 free at Palm dev day last month and I use it without a SIM) and the card metaphor is still joy to use, even after all this time. It's intuitive, it's convenient, it's elegant, it's simple- it's very apple-like. Apple should just license it from HP/Palm. Apple needs to admit that the tray doesn't cut it. Apple knows when to admit defeat. Jjust look at the inclusion of Netflix on the new Apple TV. They just need to do it here.

Excellent soir à chacun des individus de cette assemblée ,
Pour commencer , offrez-moi la chance de vous montrer ma gratitude pour toutes les formidables infos que j'ai retrouvées sur cet formidable forum de discussions .
Je ne suis pas certaine d'être au bon section mais je n'en ai pas trouvé de meilleur.
J'habite à Vernon, usa. J'ai 39 années et j'éduque 3 agréables enfants qui sont tous âgés entre 3 ou 13 ans (1 est adopté). J'aime particulièrement beaucoup les animaux domestiques et je tempte de leur donner les articles qui leur rendent l'existance plus splendide.
Merci à l'avance pour toutes les superbes délibérations à venir et je vous remercie surtout de votre compréhension pour mon français moins que parfait: ma langue maternelle est l'espagnol et je fais de mon mieux d'apprendre mais c'est très compliqué !
Bye bye