TiPb Answers: No, you don't need to kill all the apps in your multitasking dock

One of the most frequent questions we're getting these days is how to close all apps at once -- basically how to force quit or kill every app from the new multitasking/fast app switcher dock Apple introduced in iOS 4 for iPhone and iPod touch and iOS 4.2 for iPad.

The short answer is you don't need to. Really. If you've been worried about it, relax. It's all good.

For the long answer, read on after the break!

Multitasking is more of a marketing terms these days than a technical one. Don't think of your iPhone as a Windows or Mac OS X machine because it's not. It isn't Windows Mobile or even Android either. iOS doesn't work that way. It doesn't (most of the time) leave a bunch of rogue processes running in the background that have to be force-quit.

iOS manages all that for you. Most applications, when you exit them, save their state and "go to sleep". So if you were playing a game or looking at Settings and then hit the home button or switch to another app, it keeps track of where you were in the game or what page you were on in Settings, then stops the app. When you tap the icon to launch the game or Settings again, it reads the state and returns you to the same place in the app. It only seems like it was multitasking -- it wasn't. If you haven't used an app in a long time, iOS might not even keep the saved state (you'll notice the app re-launched and shows you a splash screen instead of going back to the last place you left it.)

This means, for most apps, you never -- not ever -- need to "delete" them or close them from the multitasking dock. You might feel a desire to, even an obsession to. But you really don't need to. Really. (Breath out!)

The only exceptions are:

  1. Streaming audio like Pandora. This can keep playing in the background but if you pause or turn off the music, it ends. No need to force quit these apps either. (Just check to make sure volume isn't off, otherwise you might as well pause the music...)
  2. VoIP apps like Skype. These can keep running in the background and Skype especially can drain your battery. You can close Skype or other VoIP apps if you aren't actually waiting for a call.
  3. Turn-by-turn navigation like TomTom. These can stay in the background and give you location and voice instructions and if you don't need it anymore you can quit it to spare your battery the aGPS hit
  4. Task completion, like finishing uploading a picture to Facebook or downloading your Twitter stream. These will automatically close when the activity is finished. Even if the activity doesn't finish they'll close after a short period of time anyway. So again, unless you really want to stop what they're doing there's not need to close them.

There will be rare -- rare -- occasions when a specific app, even an Apple app like Mail, stops working properly and a force-quit can get it to restart and behave itself. Once an a while your iPhone or iPad might get really sluggish and closing any big, recently played games might help.

But when it comes to closing ALL apps, ALL the time, just remember:

You don't ever -- never as in not ever -- have to close ALL the apps in your multitasking, fast app switcher dock. It's a sniper rifle, not a nuke. So just relax and enjoy your apps and let iOS do the heavy lifting for you.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 162 comments. Add yours.

Born2Vape says:

I never knew this but I have only closed apps like navigon, skype and pandora when not in use. Thanks for the tip.

Joe McG says:

Sometimes the mail application gets naughty and you need to kill it and relaunch to fix the problem.

Brent says:

Some apps using gps will continue to use location services needlessly, a small example where a force quit is needed. But yes, never ever need to sort through the multitasking bar

igorsky says:

Actually I'm one of these obsessive app closers, so this is welcome news :)

tbro4033 says:

Agreed. I've only had it for 8 days and I've been pretty insane about quitting everything the second I am done using it. Good to know that I can drop that obsession haha

FLskydiver says:

I know this. I've always known this. But it doesn't stop my obsessive-compulsive force closing behavior AT ALL.

Michael Scrip says:

I don't have an iPhone yet... but every time I play with an iPhone 4 in the store... there are like 80 apps in the multitasking tray. Basically every app that has ever been opened on the phone is sitting in the tray.
I will probably close apps when i'm completely done with them... so I don't have to scroll through all of them in the tray.
Even if you don't have to... it seems like it would be easier to manage.

Paul H says:

I don' know, I think Rene is wrong here. If you have the Activity Monitor app, you can try this yourself. Open up some of your apps, if you don't have any currently on your task bar. Now, go into Activity Monitor and go to the usage page. Look at how much free memory you have. Okay, now double-tap the home button and kill apps one at a time. You'll notice that with each one you kill, you gain more free memory. So, having said this I have had friends who have complained that their phone is running a bit slow or choppy. I show them how to close some of their apps, and voila their phones are running smoothly again.

sharonpeters11 says:

Yes, he is wrong, and there are things he doesn't understand. Some apps will be pushed out of memory, if the iOS needs it, but otherwise, most will stay there.

crawdad62 says:

I too have noticed through iStat that I can free up memory by killing the "running" apps. However I'm not clear whether or not that means anything. I'm assuming that if another application needs that memeory while running the OS will allocate it. So while it does free the memory to kill unused/idle apps I'm not so sure it helps to do so. (?)

TumnusMr says:

Any 3rd party app can and will be removed from memory automatically if iOS needs the extra memory. It isn't hurting anything for the apps to remain in memory in a suspended state (they aren't running)

gobatto says:

I'll second the dissenting voice as I've done exactly what Paul has done and seen the performance improvement first hand.
I've also had apps (specifically I'm thinking of Monopoly by EA right now, but there have been others) that won't run because there isn't enough memory available. I go and kill any apps and resume the complaining one, and voila: the app is happy.

flyingember says:

simple question- are you a operating systems engineer with experience with BSD systems?
No? Then you can't say Rene is wrong when you have a couple of friends have issues we can't confirm about.
Apple has made a system work for millions. Rene is right.

sharonpeters11 says:

Hey Kevin, how about you try the steps Paul mentioned for yourself? You'll see first hand what he is talking about.

DLprac says:

Seriously, what a stupid comment.
Is Rene an OS engineer? No.
Is Apple trying to sell you something? Yes.

solu says:

Kevin just got off work in one of the foxconn factories. :-) cool down

TK says:

Did you not read that it saves where you left off in memory? So of course an activity manager is going to notice that those apps are "running" because their save states is saved in memory.

Gerald says:

Yeah, I use SBSettings to display my free memory at all times in my status bar and I also use BackgroundRemover to close all backgrounded apps at once. When I invoke BGRemover, I usually go from ~90 MB of free memory to ~300 MB of memory. It makes a huge difference to close your backgrounded apps.

bobreck says:

I have had this exact issue and when I leave many apps open I can see the performance impact on my iPhone 4. There is definitely more to this than never ever having to close them. I specifically downloaded a system monitor app a few weeks ago because I was noticing the slow down. As I closed apps, I would switch back to the monitor app and see the free memory increase. The apps may not be using processor power, but they are certainly clogging up memory and that's not good. Perhaps it's bad memory management in the current version of iOS and will be fixed with 4.3. I certainly hope so.

Available RAM Missing? says:

My original understanding of the multi-tasking matched up to what this article states, however I have a bit of a different opinion after a couple months of use.
I display my available RAM next to the time on the top of my iPhone screen using SBSettings. I have observed my available RAM drop from ~340mb to under 40mb, even though all of my apps were in a "sleep" state. If I delete apps from my multi-tasking dock, then my available RAM immediately jumps back above 300mb.

flyingember says:

This article isn't for you. You messed with how your system runs by jailbreaking it.

Kevin = Noob says:

Kevin, I haven't seen a single accurate comment from you on this article. Post less, read more, and learn.

ermax says:

Oh geez. Jailbraking doesn't rewrite the kernel and change memory management or anything like that. I personally have seen my phone get sluggish then I check the free mem and see it is down to 40MB or so. I kill a few apps and the phone becomes more responsive again. By design I am sure things cache in memory to speed up resume time but the memory is available to other tasks if needed. This just means that if another task claims the memory then relaunching the other app will take a little more time because it's cache is lost. But sometimes it seams like tasks take exclusive use of memory and don't give it up as one would expect. An no I am not talking about jailbroken apps. BTW, Backgrounder lets you specify tasks that you don't want to multitask. Like the calculator. Who the hell needs the calculator to multitask.

Th3james says:

The apps stay in memory so they can be reloaded fast when they get re-opened, but they don't use any of the processor, so battery is unaffected. If your iphone needs battery, it will remove 'inactive' apps from the memory. You honestly never need to close apps!

Rob Terry says:

So what are you saying, that I don't have to close down apps manually (LOL)?

Terry says:

But what if I want to close them all? Why not have that option? Sometimes I have so many apps open that I just want to clean it up.

Rene Ritchie says:

Stop looking at the activity monitor. This isn't Windows or Mac OS X.
Yes, RAM will be taken up by resident apps but iOS will flush that as needed. Slow downs are rare and you can close a big game if you need to. But you don't ever need to close ALL apps.
Stop it.

GinoDotCom says:

Why should we stop paying attention to the activity monitor all of a sudden? It is logic to believe that our iPhone4s (especially ipad)will work under optimal conditions when the memory resources is fairly high (200+mb available) versus the 20-40megs of free memory that I usually find myself left with when several apps are left open.

Joe says:

IOS does recover memory from suspended - and running - apps when it gets into a low-memory state. However it waits rather too long to do this and, as many people have mentioned, the phone has already slowed down by that point. I hope Apple improves their IOS memory management as there's clearly plenty of room for it. Until then I'll keep closing apps I know are memory hogs to keep my free mem above 40MB on my iPhone 4.

OrionAntares#CB says:

Actually slow downs and even frequent crashes from leaving to many apps in the fast switch area are pretty common on 3rd gen devices from what I've observed.
I've especially done detailed testing of this on my personal device and now use the fast switch bar for essentially all it's really good for, a secondary, dynamic quick launch bar. Because of this it would at times be more convenient to have a way to mass wipe everything on the fast swap bar.

William says:

You should have ran some test to be 100% sure which you are not.
When you say iOS you do know we have a good line of different devices to fit the bill. Mainly used ones are the iPad iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.
With iPad and iPhone to some extent this is true. They have the power to have the multitasking bar semi full. You have to remember these aren't short cuts to apps, whichyou are practically claiming them to be. Each app uses memory. Just like you don't have to close them all essentially you don't have to leave them all open.
However the iPhone 3GS has serious issues with multiple apps open in the app tray. I've witnessed this in person and couldn't understand why it would lag and become useless, until I opened the app tray.
While you don't need to close them all you essentially don't need to have them open either. It doesn't make a difference. For better performance I say close them all, it wouldn't matter.

Pat says:

Like others said, killing apps seems to be beneficial. I tried multitasking with a jailbroken iPhone 3G and the more apps I had in the multitasking tray, the more sluggish my phone would become (even with apps that only saved the state and weren't running in the background). Killing those apps in the tray helped with the responsiveness of the phone.

flyingember says:

This article isn’t for you. You messed with how your system runs by jailbreaking it.

Sean says:

This article is misleading. Leaving things open in the multitasking bar does drain memory but just how much is different for each app. Scroll up & read Paul H's comment. Right on the money.

Hoffa says:

It does take up memory. Paul h got it right. Apple needs to make it where you are able to limit (if you want to) the number of apps in the multitasking bar. 8 apps would be a good number for me

sting7k says:

Apps in suspended state DO remain in memory, the RAM. They just aren't "running", if RAM runs low iOS purges the app but it remains in the switcher. If you have a bunch of apps in the switcher go to the last one and start it, it will do a full load like in iOS 3 and lower; the saved state was purged.

sting7k says:

I only ever close everything when Apple apps start to crash and do strange stuff or I see animations/the system start to drag a little. Otherwise I close out games and apps I use rarely only.

Rene Ritchie says:

Again, we're talking about ALL apps, not specific ones.

sharonpeters11 says:

Specific apps fall into the "all apps" category.

MP says:

If this is true, why is multitasking not available on older devices like my iPod 2nd gen? I thought the reason was that they were not powerful enough to handle the job, but if all that happens is persisting state to storage, the only limit should be free space, right?

TK says:

The Times Newspaper app doesn't have the capability to do save states because the developers of the app didn't program the save state capability into the app so of course it's going to do a full close.

Norman says:

Doesn't it use alot of battery life??

TK says:

He's talking about a generalization of apps that are built for iOS 4. If the app you're using was not built for iOS 4 then it's not going to multitask. iOS's multitasking is creating a save file and closing the app and then reopening the app and loading the file. Think of it this way, you're typing in Microsoft word, you save your progress and close the program, then when you want to go back to your document, the program is opened first then your file is loaded where you left off. That's how iOS 4 multitasking works, an activity monitor is going to show the save state that's saved in memory. So when you hit the home button to go to the Springboard or switch to another app, your previous app closes and makes a save state, but if the app isn't made to create a save state, then it'll reopen from the beginning.

chris gonzales says:

I say before and I say again. As the owner of the device if I want to close them i will.

kingweb says:

I tend to agree with Rene. Sure more mem gets tied up. But Apple builds its ios devices for people who don't think or ask questions (not the people here). The Average Joe on the street wouldn't even think that he would have to close apps, etc and cannot even comprehend this subject. This entire article here is what Apple tries to avoid with its easy to use products. iOS is not designed for people like us that think, ask questions, and like to understand what they are doing before they do something.
So my point is that Rene is probably right because Apple would NEVER expect users to have to close apps in order to save memory.

Tony says:

I share my phone with my wife and kids. I might not want one or all of them to see the last state of any given app that I've used. The safest thing to do would be to kill all the app who's state is stored in RAM, therefore closing all the apps in the dock at once. People will always have a reason for doing something and they are fully entitled to it.

webvex says:

A very good point about privacy. Also, some apps only refresh data at load time. You need to fully close them and re-launch to get them to pull from their servers again.

Tony says:

The commentator who mentioned the Monopoly app made a very valid point. It uses a huge amount of RAM and often won't run if the iPhone is low on available RAM. Closing apps in the dock fixes this. Sure, Apple might plan for things like this by deleting apps states from memory, but it doesn't do it as well as it could, or RAM intensive apps like this wouldn't have this problem would they?

BobbyMcWho says:

Does more RAM memory being used mean that more battery life is being drained? Because my battery tends to drain quicker when I have a lot of apps suspended, especially ones like Infinity Blade. When I used to play that a lot, if I didn't completely exit out of the app then my battery would drain significantally faster.

deviladv says:

It is true you don't need to close ALL of your apps. However, there are apps in memory.
1) Rene's article is mostly for intermediate level people who just obsessively kill apps. In that sense he is right.
2) The key here is that Apple saves the state in memory and pushes it out of memory "As the phone needs it." That's what Rene said and it is correct. The deal is, all those apps stay in memory if there's enough memory to hold them. Those of you looking at activity monitor and killing apps and seeing memory reclaimed... of course you are correct, you are just proving what Rene said, that the OS keeps the saved state in memory until it no longer needs it. You are killing apps that have a saved state! Try closing every app in your multitasking bar after a few days of work and opening every single app on your phone. Eventually, you'll get to a point where you won't see any more return, because those apps are closed.
3) The multitasking bar saves an icon of the apps you have run in the past in order. It's not a 100% accurate reflection of tasks running in the background. the last 6-12 apps might be in memory but after scrolling to the right far enough, all they are are shortcuts, not actual running processes.
4) Killing all the apps on the multitasking bar is a waste of time, because if you really want to recover from a slow down, reboot the damn phone. It does the same thing as killing 20 apps.
5) I disagree with people not looking at activity monitor. I recommend an activity monitor so that you learn more about your phone in general. I do believe it was not used properly here, however.
6) Rene I do believe a positively spun article would be more beneficial here. In general, if I experience a slow down, I look at the multitasking menu and see if any big apps show and kill a couple. Otherwise, a reboot of my phone clears things up. i see slow downs after playing games, and sometimes memory is squeezed by a saved state of a game taking up most of the memory and occasionally it needs a little help getting out of memory.
7) For those of you debating this, let's have a logical discussion and not be insulting. Kevin, you aren't a operating systems engineer with BSD experience either. Let's not degenerate into name calling because we disagree.

Rene Ritchie says:

Georgia has a positively spun, Tip of the Day on how to fix slowdowns, including selectively quiting apps, pending. It'll likely go up Monday or Tuesday.

OrionAntares#CB says:

She's making a "positively spun" (whatever that means) Tip of the Day that essentially counters this article you just posted???

MG says:

Geeze Rene, Most of the time you are so calm and collected. Somebody must have really irritated you to get your panties in a ward this way. Still Love you (and the tipb team) Man.

Rene Ritchie says:

I'm not irritated at all. This article is only meant to help people not waste their time. Consider it a myth-buster.
Love. Up.

A Myth??? says:

A myth? Wow. You're stubborn. I usually like your articles but couldn't disagree with you more regarding this topic.

Rene Ritchie says:

Liking articles and agreeing with them are two different things. There are lots of articles I love that have different points of view than mine.
And yes, it is a myth. Just because a lot of people keep insisting otherwise doesn't make it any less of a myth.
You absolutely, positively, do not have to close ALL apps in your fast app switcher.

Tony says:

Rene, you're being facetious! Take my point about the Monopoly app needing more available RAM to run, I don't need to close ALL of the docked apps, but which of the 100 or so do I close? How do I know when I've closed enough of them for the app to run smoothly? Quick answer, close them all? Question is, how do you do this quickly, in one go? You didn't even bother to answer the question that in your opening statement you said you'd been asked a lot.

Rene Ritchie says:

Hold down Sleep until the shut down slider appears. Then hold down Home until you're sent back to the Home Screen. According to Apple, this flushes the RAM. (I actually don't believe it does post-iOS 4.0 but Apple keeps saying it does when asked).

TumnusMr says:

That just quits and removes the active app from memory and does nothing from the homescreen as far as I can see. Other apps that were suspended are still there and come back immediately.
Sheesh there's a lot of unnecessary hostility in the comments. It was a good article.

Rene Ritchie says:

Okay, I made the post more love uppy. :)

Tunnelrunner says:

Not taking sides here but did want to chime in:
Since December, my non-JB iPhone 4 had been randomly going into "iPhone coma." I tried soft/hard resets, restoring back to factory conditions and even getting a replacement. The iPhone still would go into coma. Last week, one of the tech support guys claimed that this (the coma state) is simply the result of having too many apps not "killed" in the background. And that the solution was simple as trying to always close the background apps (as well as doing a soft reset every 3 days).
Not saying he was right but so far, no coma states (knock on wood).

crookone10 says:

Why does sbsettings show lower memory when I have those apps in the multitasking bar then? When I delete the apps my memory races back up

webvex says:

That's the way iOS multitasking is supposed to work, in theory. In practice, it's not perfect. Slowdowns do occur, memory shortages do cause loading problems, and battery drain does happen. Part of the problem is probably that not every programmer follows the rules. If you give them an API to do anything in the background they'll be tempted to use it, for responsiveness. Also, perhaps they aren't checking for available memory before launching. Whatever the case, iOS multitasking is far from perfect, and making such absolute statements about never closing apps is a disservice to readers.

mountainhouse says:

I've been monitoring in the System Mgr app and closing stuff down. Very helpful article! Thanks!

Mom of Naa says:

It's been driving me crazy keeping that clean with all my app killing. I fear it will drain the battery if I have things in multitasking bar. No I know it's all in my head.

Garysturn says:

The Icons in the Multi-tasking bar do not reflect what is still in RAM memory. That list is just a list of your most recently run Apps. iOS clears Apps out of RAM as memory is needed for other Apps but does not remove the Icons from the Multi-tasking bar.
The memory management process is automatic but does use resources and can slow things down in some memory intensive Apps once the RAM is near full. A Hard Reset will clear all non system Apps out of RAM but all the Icons will still be in the Multi-tasking bar.
You do not have to open an App from the Multi-tasking bar to continue where you left off, you can open it from the springboard and it will run the same way. The App developer just needs to have that feature built in the App for it to continue were you left off.
You could completely ignore the Multi-tasking bar and everything would work just fine unless you need to stop a background music or GPS App, but you could even reopen those from the springboard and pause them without needing the Multi-tasking bar.

webvex says:

I think if you normally only use a handful of the same apps every day, you'll probably be fine with this advice. However, if you use a lot of different apps daily (I easily use over a dozen), you might want to keep an eye things.

Tim says:

Apps in the multi-tasking bar do take up additional memory and can affect performance for games, particularly CPU/memory intensive ones.
I should know, as I'm a game developer. :)
But don't waste your time shutting down multi-tasking apps, just reboot your device once in a while. That's much more time-efficient.

tehdoucher says:

this article is very misleading indeed. what you are saying rene makes no sense. on my 3gs if i have a bunch of apps open, doesnt matter which ones, they chew up my app memory which in turn slows down the phone and then eventually springboard crashes. i use sb settings to keep track of app memory, ive been doing this since the the first iphone.

Rene Ritchie says:

Your situation may not have anything to do with what's described in this article. My 3GS almost never slow down, even with tons of gaming. There can be a lot of factors.

kbcox0327 says:

BS! Anyone that uses status bar free memory via sbsettings can ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY confirm that your free memory depends on how many apps are running. And quess what stupid, if it goes too low the springboard will inevitably CRASH! I've actually read @Comex tweets that argue the same but you can't deny the springboard crash.

Some Dude says:

I agree most people don't understand how "multitasking" in ios works, and don't need to keep their taskbar clean all the time. However, suggesting that there is no circumstance where killing all your background apps is beneficial or desirable, is just wrong. Maybe I just don't want the taskbar cluttered, or I just like having things completely closed out. Why tell people to "Stop it. Just stop it." Certainly there's no harm to killing BG apps, so why not? Good info here, but why be so dogmatic about it?
By the way, RemoveBG is the jaibreak tweak Rene doesn't think needs to exist. :) Swipe to open SB settings, tap, done.

RemoveBG RULEZ!!!! says:

My favorite Jailbreak APP!!! This blog is biased and comments are coming from Team Pure DORKS!!! Where is our Saviour Allyson!!!!!!!!

JMT says:

Rene knows he is wrong. He went from "never" and the emphasis on "never ever" to a much more moderate position.

Rene Ritchie says:

I'm not wrong, though you're certainly free to disagree with me.

JMT says:

You should move to the US and run for government office. lol

This is getting pathetic says:

We disagree with you because you are WRONG!

dloveprod says:

Sometimes my phone slows down when I have alot of apps down there, after I close them all, instant speed boost

Derrick says:

There are times when killing stuff is a benefit. Like if you are browsing the web and want it to cache more pages and data without reloading everytime you revisit a new "tab"

chuck732 says:

I will keep closing all my apps. It saves my battery life. I have had my iPhone 4 since the beginning and notice the battery drops more when apps are left in the dock.

yodiggity says:

Unfortunatly yes Renee you are wrong. There aren't occasional slow downs there are numerous ones when you have alot of apps left open. At least when on a 3GS. Now on an iPhone 4 there is probably plenty of ram to make the slow down " Ocassional " but otherwise I find it necessary to close apps very often! P.S. Kevin your a MoRon

Sumit Kishore says:

You're missing the point. The point of having a running apps dock is to be able to quickly manage - mostly commonly, switch among - running apps (or conceptually running apps, when a user is switching back and forth between apps for some task). By treating all apps the same way in the dock, whether they were saving their state and quitting, or actually background processing, iOS ends up having so many icons in the apps dock that it is no better than the springboard, and useless for switching.
Arguments can be made about whether this is actually better, but on the webOS, direct manual control over launching and shutting down apps was a better experience.

Confusing article says:

I guess Rene's point of this article was to argue that ALL apps do not need to be killed, only certain ones under certain conditions.
The problem lies with the fact that if my multi-tasking dock has 15 apps "open" and my iPhone's performance is crawling, I'd rather kill everything then kill one at a time to see if it is the offending app that is sucking my RAM dry.

stoneland says:

I always quit all my apps before charging my phone overnight. I, too, have the Monitor app and I do see a difference in used RAM. I don't particularly notice a difference when using my phone (i.e., a slowdown, etc.), but it does happen. Also when an app is not working properly I will close the app from the dock and restart it. So I do close out my apps. Are there any negative consequences of killing your apps all the time?

Julio says:

I just brought my iPhone 4 in to Apple because it gets charged to 100% and then slowly drops to 90% while on the charger. And the "Genius" there told me that the iPhone has true multi-tasking and that I need to clear out all running apps. because I have a rogue app that is somehow draining my battery. I argued with him , but he refused to accept that I might have a defective battery. Well I cleared out every app last night, and guess what, still have the phantom battery drain.

fastlane says:

For me, it's not a memory issue, it's a convenience issue. Scrolling through every single app installed on my device in a four-app dock is an even bigger waste of time than deleting them.
Until Apple allows us to SET which apps we want multitask, I'll never be using it. Useless.

webvex says:

I agree. Apple's default is to send everything to the task switcher. That drives me crazy in OS X too, where closing a window doesn't close the application. You shouldn't have to take extra steps to close an app. You should take extra steps if you want to keep it running, or have both options. That's one of the few things Windows got right, with both minimize and close buttons on every window.

sherlock says:

I absolutely "feel a desire to, even an obsession to." But thanks to Rene I'm going to try and stop doing it every time I use my iPhone. Deep Breath! :)

MooPenguin32 says:

Rene, I think this is a great post and I appreciate it. It's amazing the comments people will leave on such an innocent topic such as this. I sounds like everyone needs to agree to disagree.

wcarlson40 says:

Guys, lets assume for a minute that probably both sides are right, and instead focus on what we ALL agree on:
1) There are indeed times you need to close an app (GPS, misbehaving email app, etc).
2) The current method of closing apps sucks
To close an app, you have to double click the home button, hold down an icon until it wiggles, hit the '-'s, hit the home key again to stop the wiggle, then hit the home key again to close the task bar..
Why can't you just flick an app 'up' off the task bar to close it? Kinda like WebOS. The icon's could be 'mini-cards' that you flick up to close. It seems like this could be implemented with a jailbreak app? (an then of course Apple would steal the idea and implement it)....

icstars989 says:

You get the same type of resistance from the Android crowd too Rene. Let the OS handle the bulk of the work. What good is unused mem anyhow?

Mr. Me says:

Since others have already pointed out specific things, I'll just say this: Rene your wrong. Except this instead of trying to defend yourself even though people have given crystal clear examples of how your wrong.

Rene Ritchie says:

This article represents my opinion which is not uniformed.
Again, people can disagree or make other choices but if you say I'm "wrong" then I'd humbly suggest we need more discussion on iOS and debate :p

OrionAntares#CB says:

Even an informed opinion can be colored by bias to a point that makes it wrong...

Mr. Me says:

Rene, opinion's only relate to topics that are debatable. It is clear that you are wrong. If my opinion is that the sky is red your going to tell me I'm right because it's my opinion? When enough facts back up a claim opinions can no longer be counted.

felface says:

thanks for clearing that up Rene i wasn't quite on the whole what to close and what not to

GraysonIP says:

The two iPhones in my house have been slow of late, and I've made a point of closing all apps. That helps sometimes. If that doesn't work, powering off and back on seems to help some as well. I would like Apple to offer us a way to close all apps with one click.
(By the way, Rene, I hate to see you beat up on. For me, closing apps seems to help. But, I appreciate the spirited, if sometimes raucous, debate that you've started!)

LeBeef says:

I will have to respectfully disagree with you, Rene. I monitor the RAM on my phone. The phone, message, email, and iPod apps are always open which is fine, but there is a sizable increase in RAM when most others are closed. Maybe iOS will close them if the RAM is needed, but i dont want to have to wait for my phone to get sluggish before it kills apps. Sorry.

patricksmangan says:

I agree. With my ipad, i close them all when it starts to slow down, or when a kid is done playing games, at which point there will be 50 games in the fast app switcher, which i know will slow it down.

patricksmangan says:

I think apps should auto close from the fast app switcher after a page or two of icons, at which point youv probably forgotten its there and if u need it you will be flipping through pages of home screen icons anyway, except they arnt "open"

Andrew3G says:

I totally agree - especially on such devices as the iPhone 3G with very limited RAM it's a huge difference if you really kill the apps or let them rest in your dock.

Hedy says:

The thing I am worried about is an ap like Amazon that is open with my account information. What if someone steals my ipad? They would be able to shop with abandon!
That is why I want a close button for at least apps that are linked to shopping ability.

Garysturn says:

When you exit an App it does save its status and does not need to be closed like you say, but it still remains in RAM memory until the memory is needed by another App then iOS will move the closed Apps out of RAM.
I have found that once RAM is full of all these closed Apps it takes longer for some Apps to work without lagging, especially Apps that use a lot of memory because iOS has to pause to clear some more memory each time the App needs more memory.
You can clear all the RAM by doing a Hard Reset. The Icons will still be in the Multi tasking area but they will all be purged out of RAM memory after a Hard Reset.
To do a Hard Reset hold both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button until the screen goes completely black, do not slide the off slider when it appears keep holding both buttons until it is completely off. Then push the Sleep/Wake button and wait for it to reboot, this can take a minute or two after a Hard reset.
After rebooting from a Hard Reset only system Apps will load in RAM. You can see how all this works with the free App "Free Memory". It shows everything that is in RAM. Before resetting my iPhone4 will have about 22Mb free and you can see all the recently closed Apps in the list. After a Hard Reset it has over 300Mb free and only system Apps in the list.

jwriherd says:

I disagree with this. If you open every single app, it will slow down your phone. There is thing called RAM and each saved state will use this RAM and so slow down your phone. I notice it.

Mephisto says:

Good article Rene. A pity the ill informed idiots around here become vitriolic even they have no understanding of how an OS should handle memory.
The obsession with free memory is ridiculous, and memory not being used is wasted. It should be almost full all the time and the OS will handle it.

blyths says:

Actually, no one was getting vitriolic until you showed up. Guess your vocabulary is as well developed as your knowledge of memory management.
And using all memory is not optimal - holding onto it "just in case you might need it" delays startup of a new app while the OS has to make room for it. Some apps will crash when the memory is not made available fast enough. So yes, it is useful to free all memory once in a while. It's a fast reset that cleans up lingering problems. Windows will put things into virtual memory to avoid using up all real memory.
By the way - there is such a tool for jailbreakers called Remove Background - there is an SBSettings addon to trigger removal of all background apps - it works well, and quickly.

Webvex says:

I agree. This notion that unused memory is wasted and one should always run with it maxed out is simplistic, as if memory management (on any platform) is perfect and every application is well-behaved. The reality is that if you value stability and performance, you still have to do a little work yourself.

LozBlanko says:

One of the main points here is being missed. The useful thing about multi-tasking is being able to flip between running apps. However, if the app switcher has 40 icons in it then there is no quick way of switching. Apple's switching system is lame. Multiflow (for jailbreakers) is the way it should be done.

Taco50 says:

People in here still dont get it. There's only a limited number of apps that iOS can do save state for. After that it's starts clearing apps out of memory and it's like it was never opened. That's one of the nice things about iOS that I don't have to worry about what apps are open. If my memory gets low my old apps start getting closed automatically. There are times where the phone can get a little sluggish and I can just do a quick restart, but that's rare.

fastlane says:

I don't think you get it. That wasn't the point of this post.
If you have 4 full home screens, that's 68 apps in the app switcher to swipe through. That's something like 17 swipes to see every app. Makes more sense to swipe 3 times to see the same 68 apps... and ignore the multi-task bar altogether.

fastlane says:

I don't know what apps you use, but none of mine ever clear out. Ever app I have installed is in my multitask bar at all times.
It couldn't be more pointless.

AntO says:

I choose what i wan to stay at background by sticking to proswitcher and backgrounder

MB says:

Disagree. As the number of apps builds up in my multitasking dock, my iPhone 3GS becomes noticeable more unresponsive. When I remove all of the apps from the dock, it solves that problem. Granted, this could be a poorly-written app that is causing this. Or, it could be a poorly written OS. Maybe the apps aren't running in the background anymore, but there are some number of them that are still using RAM.
I agree with the comment that this implementation of multi-tasking does not achieve one of the main benefits - fast app switching. It seems it would be easy to know which apps are used the most; keep the top 5 used apps "active" and kill anything beyond that as more apps are opened.

Mathieu says:

I rarely use multi-tasking and every once and again I launch my GPS app and my voIP and forget to close them properly. My battery drains very rapidly until it dies. It would be nice to have a quick "close all apps" feature instead of having to close apps one by one until you close the one you intended to close.
I just don't see how implementing a quick "close all" functionality could hurt the user experience.

GeorgeDW says:

I also have to disagree. I understand that ou shouldn't have to worry about making sure you have lots of RAM free, but on my 3GS when I have a few apps open- saved state, not actively doing anything- and the RAM gets low, it can get very sluggish, and if I try to open an app that needs andair amount of RAM, it will show the app's splash screen then silent crash back to springboard. iOS 4 seems to do a terrible job with memory management, at least on the 3GS.

Webvex says:

It's the same on the iPhone 4. It has twice the memory, but the problem isn't how much. It's how it's handled. We all get the crashes and slowdowns. The memory management, while not horrible, still needs work.

Binja says:

Once or twice I have had system glitches which were cured by closing all my apps. It's apparently possible for an app to affect the OS' operation. Then again, I'm jailbroken so it's probably the fault of some low level hacky junk.

Jerry says:

It's funny because Iphone folks have been dissing Android about this .. and they're having the same problems.. just like iOS .. Android DOES NOT NEED task killers which is why Google basically killed the ability for third party to kill apps on Android 2.2 .. .yet everybody was misinformed about Android needing to have tasks killed

Jeremy says:

Is it me, or has anyone else noticed when you have a lot of apps open in the background, your home button seems less and less responsive? I swear this happens to me.

diggidy says:

"You don’t ever — never as in not ever — have to close ALL the apps in your multitasking, fast app switcher dock." Are you kidding? I have an iPhone 4 and an iPad both of which are jailbroken. I can say without a doubt the more apps you have in your multitask bar the less RAM you will have available. Each app will hold approximately 8-10MB of RAM. If the user is jailbroken this is easily verified if you have your RAM showing on the taskbar. It's more noticeable on the iPad than the i4 because of less on board RAM naturally. The author cannot possibly be jailbroken or he would knew better than to state this as fact.

Taco50 says:

Not all the apps in your dock use ram. iOS starts deleting from ram automatically if memory gets low. Just because you see an app in your dock does not mean it's in "save state". I think some of you are a little obsessive compulsive if your constantly going in to close apps

aldo says:

I don't think iOS is fully optimized yet which cause the slow downs people are seeing. You don't have to close apps - I agree with that and I don't but I think the OS waits too long before it frees up memory and slow downs can happen. Just for interest, I may try closing all apps once a day to see what effect it has.
For those that complain too many apps are in the fast app switcher - so what? If an app is a long way down the list then launch it in the normal way from you homescreen. The fast app switcher is simply for quickly switching recently used apps. If you haven't used one for a while then don't use the switcher. You actually never need to use it, that's the simplicity of the design

John says:

Do me a favor, Rene... make sure you have 20 or more apps in the task bar and then open the game Infinity Blade and tell me you don't need to close some apps!

Rene Ritchie says:

Please actually read the article. It says you may need to close apps occasionally. You just don't need to worry about closing ALL apps, especially all the time.

Hunter MacLean says:

I went into an Apple store in SFO once because I was having FaceTime issues and couldn't make a connection. The "genius" there told me I should close all the apps in my multitasking menu if I have this problem again because FaceTime is one of the most memore intensive application/services on the iPhone.
Any thoughts??

ladjr (Luis) says:

Has anynone forgot about jailbreaking. There is an app call "Remove Background" that removes all the apps from the multitasking bar with one swipe or gesture. Check it out if you dare!

Cascade#IM says:

This is how I have managed (or not managed, actually) my memory. Don't think about it. As a former Windows Mobile user, this has been refreshing. I went in to an Apple store for an unrelated issue with my phone and a "Genius" told me I should be going in there and shutting everything down 1 or 2 times a day. Are they trained to suggest this or was he just a rogue "Genius" who doesn't know what he's talking about? He seemed pretty clued in otherwise.

xandros9 says:

I found out on my iPod Touch that you can close multiple apps at once. (Trying to tap 4+ minus icons with 4+ fingers at once)
I think its more useful on an iPad though... (more space)

Craig says:

Hey cool I didn't know that - thanks!

oldfahrt says:

i tried to do the 4 finger technique, but could not. twas too hard. best i could take out was 3 at a time.
thanks everyone for their input in this discussion. i wish there were an easy Close All button, but i guess i'm stuck tapping the minus multiple times or doing the hard reset as suggested earlier.
no i will not jailbreak. :)
keep up the great work Rene. i usually agree with you but not on this point.

Toymaker says:

I also have to disagree with the author. I have been talking with an Apple senior level engineer dealing with Bluetooth issues and there appears to be a direct connection between having multiple apps open and random Bluetooth issues such as dropped connections. Several Bluetooth device manufacturers have also published support articles telling people to kill all the apps to remedy the situation for iOS 4.

Jalaj says:

I don't use Apple products but one of my friend is crazy about those. He took me to a store and demonstrated the iPad's capabilities on an iPad which was kept for visitors/customers to check. After a few apps and games he opened a eBook reader that had 5-6 free books. Opened one and flipped through its pages... the app worked really slow. He realized that since all visitors open their own app there might be too many which are still open and he was right. He started closing each one of them (there were tooooo many) and after each one had closed restarted the ebook reader and then page flip etc were real coool...
Moral: Open apps does slow things

Mike Pres says:

I manage 30+ iPads, and on several occasions I have experienced webinar apps quitting due to a lack of free memory. The app freezes and an iPad notification window pops up telling you that there is a lack of memory to continue running this app. Once you tap the [OK} button, the app closes. And every time this happens, I look at the Fast App Switching Bar and there are several pages of running apps. Once all of the apps are closed, the webinar app will work perfectly.
As stated in the article, I probably do not have to close ALL the apps, but I do just to be safe. Further, this does prove that apps running in the background can have an affect on your iPads performance and the performance of other apps. There is a finite amount of memory available on an iPad, and anything running in the background will require a portion of that memory. Thus, its important to know your apps, know which ones use a lot of memory, and adjust your Fast App Switching Bar accordingly.

usmc says:

It seems to make my home button not work properly when I have a bunch of apps opened.

JeffPom#IM says:

I will disagree as well - and it comes from Apple. I worked with a Genius at an Apple store recently and he pointed out that we should, at times, clear out the apps running - it can bog down the memory and slow down the phone.
He did agree with me that we shouldn't have to do it, as this post states - but he said it really is the best thing to do.

ST says:

I have worked with apple products all my life and have always wanted to know more about them then just what apple or any other places have to say about their products. I am very happy now that I have found this blog so know I can know all of the advantages and disadvantages of apple products.

AL_M says:

My only problem with multiple apps being open in the bar is that most of the time I am working with only about 5 different things. If I want to switch between those and 9 or 10 apps are left open, they are two page swipes away. I would be happier if the most recently used apps showed in the 1st bar and older processes got pushed off to the right.

Michael Margolis says:

A simple "X" in each app would allow us to definitevely close the apps we want, and not send them to the multi-task list. This is too easy. Internet Explorer has had the "X" for years now. Same concept.

Elizabeth says:

I am in the middle of playing surviving high school and it goes to the home screen on my iPod it's really aggregating!!!!!! Can anyone help???????

Aaron Marks says:

David Pogue (Tech reviewer for the NYTimes) and The Unofficial Apple Weblog disagree with the premise of this post.
Quitting out of all open applications saves battery life.
Source:http://www.tuaw.com/2011/05/24/four-tips-for-better-iphone-battery-life/

Scrippslarry says:

Never answered the question how to close the all at once if you want to. It would still be nice to know. How about rebooting and clearing cache?

iPhoneUnlockDK says:

You need to jailbreak your iPad to do that. Many Cydia apps can do just that and much more.

mac4tutor says:

FYI: It will, however, keep memory unavailable until it is closed from the Multi-Tasking Bar which could make it difficult for other apps to open and work properly,

anom says:

Not true for OP. Whether an appl needs to be close depends on how good an app is written. Many apps (eg: many games) have left the state machine running, meaning it will drain the battery. It is best to close apps that you do not use since you do not know how an app is written.

larushka says:

This is absolutely true. Apple don't recommend leaving background apps open indefinitely. Also kills RAM memory. I had big problems connecting to wifi. Went to Genius Bar. Had something like 40 apps running in BG :) Shut them all down, closed all safari pages and wifi connected immediately. I think Apple should make an instant app bulk app killer.

Bill says:

found this out on my own,some of us in 40s dont know all the comp. stuff this is something they should of told us when getting the phone,was worried i let internet run and i was going to get a humongous bill

Dbkelley says:

the implication that android leaves rogue apps running is incorrect. both ios and android manage background processes and non-main-window apps in similar ways. however I googled for answers to why my ipad is slowing down and apps are quitting spontaneously pretty often now, where I have never had that issue with my slower/less powerful (hardware-wise) android phones. Maybe the android low memory killer is actually a more effective solution than the ipad memory manager. I don't know. maybe I just have something funny running on my ipad.... that seems quite possible too.

Polarbreeze says:

Rene's article is correct EXCEPT for the fact that neither iOS nor individual apps are bug-free. Thus, it is definitely possible for memory to get choked up and this CAN indeed be relieved by flushing background apps. Rene's comments apply to a ideal, bug-free world - however this does not exist.
As a specific example, there's all kinds of fuss going on right now with iOS 5 causing nasty slowdowns when it's run on the 3GS. The issue is not to do with CPU power but is (almost certainly) to do with memory management of background apps. Release 5.0.1 does not seem to fix it. Perhaps 5.0.2 will fix it.

dyouel says:

I am not so worried about memory and/or speed, but since I exist on satellite internet at my home I am concerned with bandwidth. I have three laptops (since 2008) and recently (Nov/Dec 2011) we have added two ipad 2's, two ipod touch's, and now I have an iphone. Wildblue is telling us our bandwidth usage is out of scale, off the charts, etc...and we have been slowed due to the over-usage, I would think that this would be an issue in regards to multi-tasking on that many iOS 5 products. Am I correct? Would turning apps off as Renee suggests eliminate that problem, or help ease it?

David says:

So what happens when your iPad fills up? The space for apps to save their state to runs out, and foreground apps start misbehaving. Maybe you don't have to kill your background apps for your iPad to work properly but I do, all the time.
Of course I could clear up some space, but I'm waiting to find a game the kids don't play all the time

Michael says:

If I open all my apps on my iPhone iOS crashes and shuts down.

Bmax50 says:

I completely disagree with this article and I am not going to talk about performance. Battery drain. I have a 4s and do not use any of the so called "rare" apps listed that are supossedly the only ones that do anything if they are not closed. I find that my battery life decreases at a noticable rate if I do not close all my apps on a regular (hourly) basis. I could probably do a bunch of trial and error to find out the offending apps, but why should I have to? The whole concept that apps do not have a true close button and that you do NOT have worry about having many apps open is a pure fairy tale. Someone has to wake up and ALLOW (my understanding is that Apple refuses to allow this because they do not think it's necessary and the original author has obviously bought into this) an app that closes all your apps.
Face it and let it happen.

plus de facebook fan says:

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Well maybee... says:

Ios 6 will have your kill all task button sooo they can phase out obscelete apple devices and use it as a selling point and call it "retina task killer button" for ipad 3rd gen. Sorry ipad 1 owners... Just saying :)

BES says:

I find it amazing that the Techs at the local Apple store and Verizon store "Highly recommend" That I close all of the tasks on a daily basis to maintain optimal performance of my 4GS iPhone.

Omacaco says:

I don't know if anyone has mentioned sits yet but I just want apps to die when I close them cuz it makes switching between apps a hassle when you have 20 left open.

ExcuseMoi says:

My friends and I always close our apps because it saves A LOT of battery even on the newer iOs systems. I know you spent ages writing this, but I'm just repeating what the Apple Genius Bar told me twice, closing the apps that you don't need, saves battery and space, and if an app ever freezes, it helps with that as well. I'm just giving my opinion... so don't hate!!!

iofu says:

if your phone is jailbroken you can use Auxo to close all background apps at once with a gesture or one at a time.
http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/12/20/aux/

mehul18292 says:

From ios 7, dont you think that it is now needed to force quit them because, now they are providing support to background transfer as well as backgorund fetch, so i think so it is now really needed to kill if you want to stop download

Joshua Young2 says:

This is absolutely wrong. Jailbreak your phone and enable the "free memory" list for your status bar. Every app you use takes a little bit of memory even in the background. I find that if I have 6-7 apps open at once on my iPhone 5, my memory is around 20mb (that's about 500 less than optimal). Granted, your iPhone will never technically "run out" of memory, as it seems to reallocate things to at least save 10 or 20 megs for you. But still. Who wrote this article? Aren't you supposed to know what you're talking about for this kind of thing?