No, you don't need to kill all apps on your iPhone or iPad
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:
- 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...)
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
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.
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.
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.
Is Rene an OS engineer? No.
Is Apple trying to sell you something? Yes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sheesh there's a lot of unnecessary hostility in the comments. It was a good article.
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).
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.
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.
By the way, RemoveBG is the jaibreak tweak Rene doesn't think needs to exist. :) Swipe to open SB settings, tap, done.
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.
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.
Until Apple allows us to SET which apps we want multitask, I'll never be using it. Useless.
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)....
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
(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!)
That is why I want a close button for at least apps that are linked to shopping ability.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It couldn't be more pointless.
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.
I just don't see how implementing a quick "close all" functionality could hurt the user experience.
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
I think its more useful on an iPad though... (more space)
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.
Moral: Open apps does slow things
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.
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.
Quitting out of all open applications saves battery life.
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.
Of course I could clear up some space, but I'm waiting to find a game the kids don't play all the time
Face it and let it happen.