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Why You Shouldn’t Make a Habit of Force-Quitting iOS Apps or Restarting iOS Devices

When Apple’s engineers designed iOS, they took the opportunity to pare away behaviors and usage patterns that were unnecessary in a modern operating system running on tightly controlled hardware. Two of the most obvious were quitting apps and restarting/shutting down the device. However, those capabilities had to remain accessible somehow. iOS apps can still freeze or otherwise freak out such that they can’t be used again until the user force-quits them, and iOS devices can still get into states where a restart is the only solution.

So Apple hid these troubleshooting features. You can force-quit a frozen iOS app by swiping up on its thumbnail in the App Switcher. Like so many other iOS gestures, that isn’t something you’d be likely to discover on your own, though Apple does document it. The Restart/Shut Down combination from macOS also made its way to iOS, though iOS muddles the terminology. (Apple’s documentation calls the process of pressing and holding the side or top button until the power-off slider appears “restarting,” even though it’s more like the Mac’s Shut Down command, given that it involves a power cycle. Indeed, in Settings > General, the command is Shut Down.) If your iOS device is frozen, you can also force-restart it with a variety of button incantations that are more akin to pressing and holding a Mac’s power button for 5 seconds to power it down abruptly.

Force-quitting apps and restarting an iPhone

But here’s the thing:

Force-quit iOS apps or restart iOS devices only to fix problems!

Although Apple doesn’t use the “force-quit” terminology, the company’s support documentation is crystal clear about how this action is necessary only when apps aren’t responding.

Apple advice on force-quitting apps

Despite warnings like this, and for reasons I don’t entirely understand, a surprisingly large number of people have gotten into the habit of force-quitting iOS apps. I once sat next to a guy on an airplane who would open an app like Messages, look at it briefly, and then force-quit it as soon as he was done reading the message. (Having to watch this nervous tic behavior for the first 20 minutes of the flight drove me batty, so I asked him if he would be interested in a tip that would improve his iPhone’s battery life and performance. Happily, he was.) I’ve even heard of people shutting down their iPads at the end of the day, much as they might have shut off a Macintosh SE/30 in 1990.

Yes, in the old days on the Mac, you wanted to quit inactive apps to free up memory and CPU power. And yes, in the old days on the Mac, it made sense to shut down every night to save power and to ensure that the Mac came up in a clean state the next morning. Neither of those behaviors is nearly as necessary as they used to be. The uptime command in Terminal reports that my 27-inch iMac has been running for (only) 12 days, and I have 20 apps open in the Dock, with over 700 processes showing in Activity Monitor. This is Unix!

Activity Monitor showing over 700 processes

In normal usage, I quit Mac apps when I can’t imagine when I would next use them, and I restart when Apple releases a macOS or security update. I only shut the iMac down when I travel for more than a few days because it uses so little power in sleep that starting it up from scratch might consume more (I tested it a while back, but there are a lot of variables). And that’s a desktop Mac—my MacBook Air spends every moment of its unused time in sleep.

Back to iOS. Because force-quitting apps and restarting or shutting down devices are necessary only to fix unanticipated problems, there are two notable downsides to engaging in such behavior as a matter of habit: reduced battery life and wasted time.

Force-Quitting iOS Apps and Restarting Hurts Battery Life

Why would these behaviors reduce battery life? Remember, iOS is a modern operating system that’s built on top of Apple’s proprietary hardware. Apple has put a great deal of effort into ensuring that iOS knows the best ways to manage the limited hardware resources within your iPhone or iPad. No one, possibly short of an iOS systems engineer armed with Apple’s internal diagnostic and debugging tools, would be able to outguess iOS itself on issues like memory usage, power draw, and CPU throttling.

When you invoke the App Switcher in iOS, you can swipe right to see all the apps you’ve used, possibly since you got your device. (The very first app in my iPhone 11 Pro’s App Switcher is Apple’s Tips, which I think came up automatically when I turned the iPhone on last year and hasn’t been touched since. It’s difficult to count apps in the App Switcher, but I probably have at least a hundred in there.) As the number of apps in the App Switcher should indicate, those apps are not necessarily running—they merely have run at some point in the past. They’re much more like the contents of the Mac’s Apple > Recent Items menu.

In normal usage, iOS devotes the lion’s share of CPU and memory resources to the app that you’re using. That’s sensible—the performance of that app is paramount. However, the next few apps in the App Switcher may also be consuming some CPU and memory resources. That’s because iOS correctly assumes that you’re most likely to return to them, and it wants to give you the best experience when you do. The screen shouldn’t have to redraw multiple times, Internet-loaded content shouldn’t have to update, and so on.

But the rest of the apps further back in the App Switcher? They’re just cardboard cutouts holding spots so you can open them again more easily than finding their icons on a home screen. In fact, switching to one of them is just like opening an app for the first time in weeks—iOS can do nothing to reduce the impact of launching it since it has to load the app’s code and data into memory, update its content from the Internet as necessary, and so on.

Launching apps in this way is expensive in terms of CPU and memory usage, and anything that forces iOS to spin up the CPU or move data around in memory consumes battery power. Apple knows that long battery life is essential for iPhones and iPads, so iOS tries hard to avoid those power-sucking app launches whenever possible.

But when you force-quit an app and open it again later, you’re preventing iOS from using its tricks to reduce CPU and memory usage—every launch is a fresh launch and consumes more battery power. For instance, once she learned in a TidBITS Talk discussion that force-quitting apps was a bad idea, reader Kimberly Andrew found that her iPad lasted 4 days on a single charge instead of requiring nightly recharging. Your experience may not be so dramatic, but if you let iOS manage your device’s resources, you’ll get the best possible battery life for your usage patterns.

What about restarting your device? It provokes the same hit to battery life, in spades, since restarting forces iOS to launch everything from scratch, along with a wide variety of background tasks that you never see. Luckily, I don’t see people restarting nearly as often as I see them force-quitting apps.

Force-Quitting iOS Apps and Restarting Wastes Your Time

From my explanation above, it should be clear that preventing iOS from managing CPU and memory resources by force-quitting apps will also reduce performance. It may be less obvious than it would be on the Mac, where launching an app might take a few seconds but switching to a running app is instantaneous, but it’s a similar performance hit for no benefit.

The more important CPU cycles to preserve, however, are between your ears. Any time you force-quit an app that’s behaving normally, you’re doing something that’s completely unnecessary. It wastes your time both quitting the app and launching it again if you want to use it again soon. You can’t even use the App Switcher as a shortcut for finding the app’s icon on a home screen.

Even worse is thinking that there’s any benefit to shutting down an iOS device when you’re not using it for a bit. iOS is not quick to restart—it took 68 seconds to power down my iPhone 11 Pro and wait for it to come back up. That’s a long time to stare at the white Apple logo. Sure, you could do something else during that time, but again, it’s completely unnecessary, wasting your time to shut down, start up, and deal with slower apps for a bit. Don’t bother.

Besides, surely you have better things to think about.

Force-Quitting and Restarting Are Useful Problem-Solving Tools

Let’s keep some perspective. As much as force-quitting iOS apps and restarting devices unnecessarily reduce battery life and waste your time, those actions won’t actually hurt anything. They’re bad habits, but they aren’t like unceremoniously unplugging a Mac’s external drive, where you could lose or corrupt data if files were open for writing.

There are times when iOS apps freeze or refuse to refresh or otherwise misbehave in ways that you can’t otherwise fix. That’s when a force-quit is absolutely the thing to do. Similarly, I’ve seen situations where my iPhone inappropriately reported No Service or was just being weird, and a restart was a quick and easy fix. Don’t be shy about restarting if your device isn’t working as it should, and of course, if the screen is frozen or the entire device is unresponsive, look up and invoke those force-restart button incantations.

Finally, there have been a few reasons in the past to engage in these behaviors, although they shouldn’t be necessary any longer. Most notably, early mapping apps weren’t always good at ending GPS-based navigation, which is a significant power draw, so for a while, it was worth force-quitting such apps to ensure they didn’t continue to navigate in the background. I haven’t seen that problem in years, but it’s not inconceivable it could crop up again with some app. In general, if you’re interested in preventing apps from doing things in the background, block them in Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

Plus, if you’re dealing with an iPhone with a weak battery, for instance, it might make sense to shut it down entirely to preserve battery life if you don’t plan to use it for at least a few hours. It’s impossible to know when the extra power draw from a cold boot would be greater than the power consumed in sleep (you’d also definitely want to enable Low Power Mode, put it into Airplane Mode, and disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), but at some point, shutting it down would be better.

In general, then, let force-quit and restart be problem-solving techniques you use only as needed, and if you’ve gotten in the habit of force-quitting or restarting regularly, give your iPhone a break.

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Comments About Why You Shouldn’t Make a Habit of Force-Quitting iOS Apps or Restarting iOS Devices

Notable Replies

  1. Another side of the coin to consider.

    Adam’s right…theoretically killing apps reduces battery life…but I wonder if that is actually true in a meaningful sense…i.e., how much does battery life get killed by relaunching apps. I would tend to think that the actual reduction is small and just gets lost in the weeds of usage.

    Similarly…how much time is wasted by waiting on apps to relaunch.I didn’t do any sort of engineering analysis…but a quick test shows that it might be a second or two slower launch…but not always as the app may have been essentially quit by iOS anyway by the time you get back to it.

    Lastly…one gets to know what apps misbehave and need killing…for my wife and I it’s the local PBS radio station app. It’s got a sleep timer option and it works correctly if you freshly launch the app every night. If you don’t…then it lasts usually 3 nights before the sleep timer doesn’t turn it off after the selected time…but sometimes it’s 2 and sometimes it’s 4 or 5…so we’ve gotten in the habit of killing it every morning rather than wake up at 0300 with the radio still on.

    I generally agree that force quitting should be reserved for apps that “needed killing anyway” as they used to say out in the Old West…but the limited relaunch time delay and questionable battery life issues (unless the latter is quantified somewhere) don’t really seem to be much of an issue.

    Yeah…Apple says that it’s not necessary…but then Apple says that if you read a message on an iOS device the Unread blue dot will disappear…which isn’t always true. They also probably would say that if you were in Mail and switched to another app then went back to Mail you would be displaying the same mail in left and right columns as when you left…and that when you are reading messages in Mail and you deleted them the left hand column would auto scroll so the currently viewed in the right hand column message was visible and highlighted in the left column…and neither of those are true as well so I’m not sure that Apple’s recommendation really means much in reality albeit it is probably correct in a world without a buggy iOS.

  2. In general this all makes sense.

    Waze is a notable exception in my experience. It seems to actively strive to keep using Location Services no matter what your setting for that might be. And when I have finished using it, it will continue trying to read the GPS location (presumably to help me remember where my driveway is) unless I force quit it.

    I agree with the general point, though, and appreciate the article.

  3. As I mentioned, @andkim1974 said that her iPad lasted 4 days instead of 1 after stopping this behavior. That’s way more than weeds.

    It’s undoubtedly not a lot per launch, as I say. But the mere fact that you think, “I must quit this app,” and you open the App Switcher, find it, and swipe up is more than a second or two. If someone said you should pull your earlobe every time you were done using an app, you’d say they were crazy. But that’s pretty much what’s going on here—a thought and action that’s at best completely unnecessary and at worst reducing battery life and performance.

  4. That’s a shame, and it’s too bad that the developers (owned by Google now, right?) haven’t fixed that behavior.

  5. Since my post originally inspired this piece—thanks, Adam!—I feel compelled to remind everyone that my query was triggered by an app (Words With Friends) that indeed had frozen, leaving me unable to reach other apps, and by a new iPhone where force-quitting wasn’t working as on my previous iPhone. (Because: Reachability!)

  6. True…and I only kill apps that deserve it. My wife kills more but generally only the misbehaving ones.

  7. The biggest irony is that force quitting an iOS app doesn’t even quit the app. The app still resides in memory!

    All force quitting does is send a signal to the app that the next time it comes into the foreground, the app should reinitialize itself.

    iOS manages its memory. When more memory is needed, iOS will determine what apps to kill or cache memory that can be freed. In fact, if an app is written correctly, you’ll never know if an app quit since apps are supposed to save their state since any time they could be terminated by the OS. A well written app should restart and return to exactly the point where it left off.

  8. I think a lot of it depends on your device. For instance, my iPhone 6, which only has 1GB of RAM, tends to terminate apps whether or not I “force quit” them, simply because other apps need the memory. Especially the games, which tend to consume all free memory on this device. I know this is happening, because the game will go through its entire “cold start” sequence on launch, even if I only switched away (e.g. to Messages or Mail) for a few minutes.

    On the other hand, my iPod Touch (which has 2GB of RAM), doesn’t have this problem. I can switch away from a game to something else (even other games), and come back to find it still running where I left it, even a few days later.

    FWIW, I only force-quit apps when I see something weird happening. Usually when I notice the system becoming sluggish - I assume some app is monopolizing the CPU. Since I don’t know which one (and usually don’t want to take the time to find out), it’s easy enough for just force-quit them all. But I only do that when I’m seeing a problem. Under normal circumstances, I let iOS handle process management.

    But I can’t agree with the article when it comes to the Mac platform.

    That’s nothing :slight_smile:. My mid-2011 Mac mini server, running Sierra has an uptime of 231 days! Mostly because Apple hasn’t shipped any updates that require a reboot for quite a long time.

    I’m sure that having 16 GB of RAM also helps

    My mini server is never shut down and never goes to sleep because it’s a server for my home network. It needs to be available 24/7 for devices that need to access it (including mundane services like DHCP).

    I do make a point of quitting apps when I’m done with them, however. There are too many apps with memory leaks (Microsoft Office and Firefox, I’m looking at you) to leave them running 24x7. If I do that, their memory footprints grow and grow without end, killing all system performance when the swapping begins. Quitting when I’m done with the app and restarting when I need it again eliminates this problem.

    I don’t see reduced performance because macOS has very good caching (especially with 16GB of RAM, when I don’t generally need nearly that much). An app that may take a minute to launch (from a hard drive) the first time after a login will re-launch in a second or two, even if it’s been a few days since I quit. Since I only log out in order to switch users (e.g. some other family member needs to use it), everything I commonly use launches pretty fast.

    My MacBook Air is similar. I quit apps when I’m done with them for pretty much the same reason. But the need is greater there because that computer only has 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD. And yes, that computer is asleep whenever I’m not actively using it - battery life is far more precious than CPU cycles on a laptop!

  9. I force-quit apps for one reason – to reduce location and other information that is shared about me.

    I use Privacy Pro, tweak iPhone Settings such as those under Privacy as well as Background App Refresh. But this is not perfect since I sometimes need to disable those settings to get an app to work.

    I could delete the offending apps, and in many cases, I have done so. But I also want the convenience of using other apps that, unfortunately, send data to marketing entities and others. In those cases, I use the app and then force-quit when I am done. I am minimizing the shared data – the app gets me while I use the service, but then I cut off the flow by force-quitting. (Privacy Pro is very good at showing the offending activity.)

    Hope this force-quit rationale makes sense.

  10. I am an avid force-quitter — though to be fair, that’s not how I’ve thought of it before. I always likened it to closing an app, same as I do on Mac. When I’m done with the app, I close it until I need it again.

    I am in no way doubting the technical accuracy, but this seems crazy to me. I use the app switcher as a sort of to-do list, in that if it’s open it’s because I need it. The prospect of having hundreds of apps open (every app still on the phone since I started it up) makes me feel physically ill.

    The mental overhead that would require for me to be able to switch between apps is not insignificant; it seems bonkers to me that I have do more work so that the computer can do less work. I understand that it’s in large part due to the mental model in my head being incompatible with that of the device, though I would also argue there are better ways Apple could have dealt with this (have the app switcher be apps that are “active,” and removing it from that screen does NOT remove it from memory, with a separate way to “force-quit” misbehaving apps, which apparently should be done extremely infrequently).

  11. Adam writes:

    "When you invoke the App Switcher in iOS, you can swipe right to see all the apps you’ve used, possibly since you got your device. (The very first app in my iPhone 11 Pro’s App Switcher is Apple’s Tips, which I think came up automatically when I turned the iPhone on last year and hasn’t been touched since. It’s difficult to count apps in the App Switcher, but I probably have at least a hundred in there.) "

    I wonder how fast you can find the app that you want to use next among those hundred.

  12. Servers are of course Macs of a different color. :slight_smile:

    It sounds like you’re actually relatively similar to me. I don’t quit my standard apps because they don’t have memory leaks—for a while, Spark while running in Mojave had a heck of a leak (I’ve caught it using 40+ GB of my 32 GB of RAM). But either they fixed it or the problem went away in Catalina.

    Privacy Pro is this?

    I can’t argue with why you’re force-quitting apps, since you’re obviously aware that the best solution is to avoid using such privacy abusers whenever possible, but I am curious about one thing. Privacy Pro can identify apps that are sending your data out in the background even when you presumably have Location Services set to While Using and Background App Refresh turned off, but it can’t block that behavior?

    It sounds as though you’ve centered your use of iOS around the App Switcher rather than the Home screen. I won’t say that’s “wrong” per se, but it does feel odd, given that it’s not something you can see by default and accessing it is harder than viewing the home screen. Plus, the order of thumbnails in the App Switcher constantly changes, so you’ll need to exert more mental effort to identify apps there (though the thumbnails are much bigger) than with Home screen icons in static locations.

    You don’t say what model iPhone or iPad you’re using, but with the Face ID models, swiping along the bottom of the screen switches between apps without entering the App Switcher at all. It’s a fluid and highly functional approach, if wildly non-discoverable.

    I never bother looking past the last three or four apps because it would take way too long to figure out what app I want among a constantly resorted list. In fact, as I suggested above, I almost never use the App Switcher at all because it’s much harder to use than the Face ID-device swipe-along-the-bottom trick for switching among the last few apps.

  13. While I am on board with never force quitting apps except when one is misbehaving, there is security value to periodic reboots to remove exploits, as many don’t have persistence past a reboot. This is not a concern for most people as it is rare and the result of being targeted (reporter, politician, activist, repressed population, etc).

  14. Isn’t app resource usage a problem with more than one dimension (CPU usage/power drain)? For example. Wunderground, my favorite weather app, by default has the setting “Background App Refresh” set to On.

    If your iOS device is snoozing the night away in someplace outside the reach of secure WiFi (it happens), or even spending a few hours in that situation, and if that someplace has poor wireless reception, keeping an app with frequent data and display updates active may be ramming the transponder power up to maximum again and again. I realize that the solution in this case is setting the Wunderground background refresh preference to OFF, but if one’s sleepy or distracted, one might forget.

    I feel certain there are scores of the repopulate apps that also download data in a way users like. Maybe iOS needs a option that prevents all cellular data downloads while Do Not Disturb is active.

    And yes, my phone has more than once decided to burn 20% or more of its remaining charge overnight (and thus going into the dreaded I Will Not Talk To You Until You Plug Me In To a Power Source mode) even while connected to a WiFi network, with three "bars.’

  15. I explained this to a friend as being like “taking the trash out to the end of the driveway every time you put something into the garbage can.” That got the sense of how it wasted resources.

  16. That’s how people run out of space on their laptops. They never empty their trash can. In this case, whatever resources are being kept around to show that you used an app 6 months ago.

  17. Just leave it permanently off. That way there’s nothing to forget. Whenever you want to check the weather you’ll be bringing the app to the foreground where it will then update.

  18. Wow I’d be very careful around her!

  19. I agree force quitting is pointless and wastes battery, but this doesn’t pass my BS test ! Something else was going on IMHO.

  20. An Apple engineer told me that rigorous internal testing revealed such actions as being the major cause of shortened battery life and I’ve heard from dozens of users who have found it to make a significant difference in their charging needs.

  21. Battery life. That’s enough to convince me to no longer force quit my apps. I was among those few who in the original conversation here admitted regular force quitting and shutting down at the end of the day. My reasoning was because I thought leaving the apps running was using valuable RAM. I have since learned the error of my ways. Haven’t shut down my heavily used iPad in ten days although I find that I still have to plug it in after about ten hours of browsing and reading. Pretty much the same with my Mac Air although I rarely shut down that machine. I been using Macs since my first Mac Plus in 1986 and possibly these are holdover behaviors from those days…

  22. Actually, the bigger culprit on recent laptops is the mostly hidden Local TimeMachine backups! See this article and this one:

    I needed to free up a lot of space on my hard drive, so I deleted my mail archives (80gb). That took enough time that the storage was copied into local snapshot, so the data wasn’t visible to me, but I still didn’t have the needed disk space (until I cleared the local snapshots.) That was Very Frustrating, it took me a couple hours to figure this out, remove the old data, and then restore from backups.

  23. A utility to automatically purge stuff that’s been in the trash for a long time helps enormously. Especially since your Trash probably contains a mix of stuff you just deleted (which you’d probably want to keep for a little while) and stuff you deleted a while ago (which you can probably get rid of).

    On any relatively-current macOS releases (including Sierra), there is a Finder preference for “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days”.

    What I like even better is what Windows does. Its Recycle Bin properties page has a setting where you pick a maximum size. When the total amount of data in it exceeds the maximum, the system will remove those files that have been in there for the longest amount of time, as necessary to bring the total size below the maximum.

    A friend of mine developed (many years ago) a macOS package to implement the Windows semantics for trash management (including many more advanced configuration options), called Compost. It hasn’t been updated for a very long time and is only 32-bit (so it’s incompatible with Catalina), but the core functionality still works great on my Macs running Sierra. I’m going to really miss it when I buy new Macs that won’t be able to run it.

  24. I never get this. How can people forget to empty their trash? How can they forget to do so even when they’re running out space? You need an app to automatically empty your trash? Jeeze Louise. Do you need an app to remind you to zip your fly when you leave the stall too? I mean c’mon. /rant

  25. The Mac App Hazel gives excellent trash control as one of it’s many options.

  26. The “Empty Trash” command is overkill. As I wrote, it deletes both things that you trashed an hour ago (which you might want to keep for a while) and things that you trashed a year ago (which should be perfectly safe to delete).

    The apps I’m talking about don’t just empty the entire trash on a timer. They selectively delete individual files based on how long it has been since they were moved to the trash (or in the case of Compost, other criteria).

  27. Is that battery life as in the battery needs to be recharged or does it include battery life as in the battery needs to be replaced? For the first years of my iPad Air 2’s life, I routinely quit apps. Now the battery does not last nearly as long as it did. (Side story. An Apple genius told me that installing the then-latest iOS would solve my problem, absolutely. After installing the latest iOS, he said that fixed it as the battery dropped 4% in under 10 seconds. But the Apple diagnostic tool said the battery was alright, and he believed the diagnostic tool rather than his own eyes.)

    That’s what I use, but because I delete (what I consider to be) too much trash to sift through, every day or two I create a folder named trashyyyymmdd (where yyyymmdd is the current date, of course), put it in the trash, and then copy any loose items into it. That sorts files and folders in the trash by when they were deleted. It works for me.

  28. I’m not saying it isn’t true…just that I remain unconvinced and I’ve never seen any kind of quantitative numbers on it.

  29. Just wait until you’re old…you’ll get this disease known as CRS for Can’t Remember Sxxx…Ima not gonna say you’ll forget to zip up but I will say it’s amazin’ what you’ll ferget.

    I don’t have an empty my trash app…generally if I put something in the trash it’s because I don’t want it any more and it gets emptied.

  30. I clealy don’t know your specific situation, but it is well known that iOS has severe battery drain for a few days after any major system software upgrade. It usually returns to normal a few days after the upgrade.

    I’m not sure what causes this drain, but it seems to happen whenever there is an upgrade. My best guess is that is doing something to the entire file system that consumes power and takes a while to complete. Maybe indexing everything for search or re-authenticating the certificates for every app. Or maybe performing a detailed check on the file system.

    I would love to know the actual cause, but so far I haven’t found anything more reliable than my own speculation.

  31. I don’t doubt you, but this is the first I’ve heard of this phenomenon. It would explain what I saw, but I’m surprised the Apple genius didn’t warn me about it or mention it after the fact.

    For what it’s worth, the battery drain seemed to improve (compared to what had prompted me to visit the Apple Store) in the following weeks. Of course, I have no detailed notes and I coddle the iPad now because I believe it has a weak battery.

  32. I’ve found the same thing. I’ve deleted it from my iPad a few years ago. I still occasionally use it on my iPhone for traffic reports, which I think are better than Apple or Google Maps, but otherwise I keep the settings off as much as I can.

  33. “Well known” may be an overstatement. I’ve seen it on very iOS device I’ve ever owned for over a decade, and others have reported similar symptoms, but I have yet to see it formally documented.

  34. I am unaware of a second way to QUIT an app other than “flipping it away” within the App Switcher. Am I missing something or is “quit” and “force quit” just a matter of semantics?

  35. The whole concept of “quit” barely exists in iOS.

    When you press the home button (or whatever the gesture is on FaceID devices) to switch to the launchpad or another app, what was running goes into the background. It receives a few messages from the system to save its state and then (unless it is explicitly requesting permission to continue in the background) it is suspended.

    Its memory remains allocated in case you want to switch back to it, but that memory can be purged at any time if some other app needs it.

    When you switch back to the app, if its memory has been purged, then the app will restart itself, using the data it save in order to recover its state.

    When you do a “force quit”, you immediately put it in the suspended state and purge its memory. But, as others have already mentioned, this happens automatically as you work with other apps unless the app has explicitly requested permission to run in the background. Some apps have abused the privilege (Facebook seeps to be a particularly notorious abuser), and I’m all for force-quitting those apps, but for most, it shouldn’t be necessary unless you’re seeing actual problems.

  36. I could swear I read a tidbits article back in the early iPhone days suggesting that leaving apps open came at a cost of memory and background processing. I could swear !!! :innocent:

  37. I think people like doing it, the swipe up is easy and oddly appealing. Very easy to repeat rapidly.

  38. I’m siding with the naysayers here. There doesn’t seem to be much downside to using this “feature” (which I’ll have to admit, I really just thought of as quitting, even though I knew it was a force quit). I can say without doubt that the drain on my battery – macOS or iOS – has much more to do with what I’m doing than with whether I’m letting things sit in memory.

    But another reason I quit out of apps on my phone is that I really don’t want to have a lot of processes monitoring location and so on. We all can spot an app that doesn’t work right, but what about apps that don’t act right? And articles I’ve read recently point out clearly that some companies have no problem gathering as much info as they can about you.

    If there isn’t a stability problem created by force quitting apps, I can live with a little energy inefficiency.

  39. The question is asked, why do people force quit apps.

    When I bought my new Apple iPhone X, I was taught that is the way to close an app when I was done with it if I wasn’t going to use it for a substantial time.

    After reading this new article, I get the impression that even if I have 25 apps open I should just leave them all open because they’re really on standby — is that correct? Is that the message that is being communicated?

  40. This keeps being brought up. But I really don’t get it. It’s almost as if people were advocating we should shut off our iPhones entirely whenever we’re not actively using them. This is absurd. Apple has built tools into iOS precisely so we maintain granular control over our own data without resorting to all-or-nothing approaches.

    Specifically, that’s what these two are for

    • Settings > General > Background App Refresh
    • Settings > Privacy > Location Services

    Make use of them. So you can stop using iPhone as if it were some cheapo Android.

  41. You can even multi touch it and swipe as many as you can get a finger on.

    Sometimes you just want to get rid of the clutter.

  42. What clutter? There’s really no reason to be in there unless an app is misbehaving. That app will likely be the first or second app in there. Many apps after that? Who cares. Users really have no business being back there. The home screen is the app launcher. As long as it’s well organized launching an app from there should easily be many times faster than trying to sift through the app switcher’s history and finding it in there.

  43. Wim

    That is great advice, but…
    My I-phone 6+ (I know I should upgrade) still has its original battery and I keep it on a charger most of the day to keep the power on, somit would make sense not to needlessly put an extra load on the battery but…
    messages has the nasty habit to show a new message but when I want to open it, it does not appear in the list. I have to power down the device, restart and then I can go to messages to read the new one. It is a pain since the notification on the screen only shows the first few words and then I have to waste a few minutes to be able to read the actual message.
    Of course, being retired I actually do have a few extra minutes but it irks me to have to do that. An I-phone should not have to be rebooted once a day (or twice) to read a message!

  44. But sometimes, it’s just easier to force-quit the app. For example, suppose you are using a mapping app for navigation. While traveling, you occasionally are using other apps to chat, listen to a podcast, look up stuff, etc. Every so often you bounce back to the mapping app to check your progress. However, when you reach your destination, you no longer want that mapping app to be tracking your location (but you still want other apps to have access to your location. It’s a lot easier to swipe up, look for the mapping app, and bat it away than to navigate through preference to turn off location services for that app.

  45. Ever since the iPhone 1, I’ve quit apps that I didn’t need to use for awhile; I have maybe 5 apps running all the time. Since iOS 7 I’ve always used the “swipe away” action to quit apps as I’ve been unable to find a way to do it any other way. If the “swipe away” is wrong, what is the correct way to quit an app?

    As for the anecdotal loss of battery usage, I used to shut down my iDevices overnight and charge them about every other day. However since Apple has completely disabled the ability to download, install, and manage iOS apps via my iMac, I now have to leave them running overnight for the several hours it takes to download app updates via WiFi; of course the iDevices are now plugged in the charger for several hours every day to allow this. Apple has screwed up an easy, faster, and elegant way to install and manage iOS apps.

  46. You don’t have OCD do you? I want the stuff I am not using gone. I need it gone.

  47. Hope Adam Engst and TibBITS (and others) realize the topic is about behavior; not about a new solution to technical problems.

    I think, Adam, you nailed it in the beginning when you referred to some people’s “odd behavior.” That’s all it is: odd. The criteria for making it “wrong” is all so subjective and cherry picked.

    Some of us old-timers get weary of hearing all the “shoulds” users come up with. In most instances, users are general users - we didn’t develop the software, we are just learning on-the-fly, by trial and error. And also, everyone has a different level-of-comfort zone, or privacy sense, or tidiness, etc. That’s why we shut them down - “force quit,” as you call it.

    There are no general-interest computer magazines talking about best-practice protocols any more (but thank gods for TidBITS and the books it produces), the so-called Genius Bars are not what they used to be, the classes offered online or in stores have questionable qualifications. And most of us are relying on our work neighbors or the ad copy to teach us what’s new to do (ad copy being written by people with sales on their minds; as bad as instruction manuals being written by tech writers). Let’s get off our high (hobby) horse, okay?

    I thought this article in question might be talking about something new, an issue having been resolved, but no, it’s more of the same anecdotal, “what everyone else is doing is odd, why can’t they be more like me?”

  48. Perhaps the App-Switcher should be named something else. If the correct behavior is to never force quit an app, you rightly state that it is a poor way to switch apps. If one does use the App-Switcher to switch apps, it makes sense to force quit some apps so the list is manageable.

  49. My daughter taught me about swiping up to save battery life years ago but lately it doesn’t seem to make a difference on iPhone 6.
    What is noticeable is IHeartRadio when I’m done with it but don’t swipe up my battery drains noticeably.
    Does IHeartRadio constantly search when not in use, even with app refresh turned off?

  50. I found I’ve had to restart iOS to make the battery % show the correct amount after it gets “drained” due to cold weather. I keep my phone in an outside coat pocket, and when it’s really cold, the battery % drops as is expected. However, after I’m back inside, and the phone has had a chance to warm up (~ 1/2 hr to 1 hr), I find the battery level stays the same as it was when I first came inside. It is only after I restart the phone that the battery % recovers to its “normal” level.

  51. There a contradiction here. On one hand you say that recently used application still draw some power (to make sure they are ready and up to date when you use them again). On the other hand you say that applications that have not been used for a while will still draw a lot of power when used again, even if you did not shut them down.
    Bottom line is: Unless you plan to use an application right away - shutting it down may save the battery power it uses in the background. So where is the tipping point? How long should I allow an application to remain open, and at which point will re-using an open application draw the same power as launching it? If I have no plan to use that application in the near term - shutting it down immediately after use will save the power it may use in the background.

  52. d2m

    Sadly I too must Force quit many many many times to restore a sliver (just a bit more) of functionality to iPhone 11, iPad 6 & TV4K. Did I mention many times?
    Weather apps on the AppleTV 4K box will not function more than a few hours after first launching an app without restarting AND force quitting apps.

    Mac OS Catalina (iMac 2019 4K) will Kernal panic if more than a few apps are running and something like a Photo’s image needs a name or crop and then poof… Panic or at best the clock stops and the Mac becomes an expensive room heater for 20 minutes. However if I restart and run one and only one app it will be fine. Same as the iPhone 11, just a few apps and things are golden, every time.

    Everything is new and up-to-date, battery life is the last thing to consider - actually is does not matter at all. If the Tv, phone, Mac do not function then the battery does not matter at all. Frankly the battery life is so short as it is and if I miss out on an hour or two who cares, I would rather have a functioning device.

    Since Catalina I need to force quit everything, restart, charge, pamper & pray that my other phone will back up or download photos. I think perhaps Apple or popular opinion suggests that all would be fine if a Force Quit was never necessary. This has been proven wrong by myself and pretty much anyone that has ever expressed out loud the pain and suffering with the iOS, MacOS & TVOS. It seldom comes up in conversation but when it does, it’s a blood pressure raising session.

    I have noticed random folks who simply want to chat about the weather are fully prepared to force quit and restart their phone to continue afterward with weather conversation. Sad that it has come to that! Often the conversation comes to the opinion that you must first force-quit THEN restart in that order simply because the offending apps are still “in the app switcher / dismisser”.

    There has to be a better way. Reflecting on what could be a cause (by observation) is perhaps the quantity of data necessary to continue with partial functionality of a particular app. Thinking out loud, at home I have >100MB data throughput however out-and-about may not be what @ home WiFi allows, force-quitting maybe stalling data & saving hair pulling by design?

    I agree as some have said “odd behaviour” yet perhaps a certain collection of apps and area based and used or written that dictates the odd behaviour, a learned behaviour certainly. The Canadian Weather apps (read °C) are likely poorly written and related data sources combine to bring our battery powered stuff to their virtual knees.

    To reiterate, if I can see the near future weather, turn on the lights, get music & view photo’s without force-quitting or restarting I’m all for it - in the interim I too am one of those that must bring my stuff back to life at the expense of battery life then so be it. A crazy thought (for the Apple lunch room suggestion box) - if an app has been in the background for many days perhaps it should Self Quit, surely it would be saving a few clock cycles and a gram (ounce) or two of battery power at the same time?

  53. Settings->Battery lists Battery Usage by App.

  54. That is interesting information, though I am not sure I got the hang of how memory is occupied, should be freed or not.
    I take it from this article that the list of recently used iOS - apps can be as long you like with eventually showing every app on your iOS device that you have installed and without the performance of the device being hampered in any way. Correct?

    Switching over to macOS:
    Is this fundamentaly different? I guess it must be. My iMac has 32GB RAM and according to cleanMyMac most of the time only a small handful of GB remain available. I just clicked “release” and now it’s gone up to 18GB. Is this a meaningful procedure at all?

  55. So as I understand, I should leave my iPad on all the time and only restart it when needed. (I confess, have been shutting down when not using it.) How often should I be recharging it?

  56. Here’s a good reason to force quit an iOS app: I use AirPlay to mirror my Peloton app to my Apple TV. But later, when I’m done, it screws up the regular Apple TV menu in weird ways. It’s like the mirroring doesn’t quite let go all the way. The only solution I have found is to force quit the Peloton app after I use it.

  57. I force quite apps for 2 reasons: First, some of the games I use accumulate virtual crud (I assume temporary files that aren’t being deleted), and slow to a crawl if I don’t periodically quit and restart them. (That follows under your “problem solving” category.) Second, I find that the gradual accumulation of windows in the app switcher view makes it hard to find the application I’m looking for. Sure, I could go to the “desktop” and find the app icons, but I like the app switcher view. To me, periodically force-quitting apps that I’m not using saves time in the long run. (That follows under your “time waster” point.)

  58. Much appreciated, Simon. To ask a follow-up, I have several apps Location Services set to “Only when I use the app.” When my open apps go into “standby” is my location still being tracked?

    I value my privacy and have most Location Services set to “Never.” But a few need the location when I am using the app. I don’t want to be tracked when I am not using the app. How do I turn an app “off” so it’s not tracking me without force quitting the app?

    BTW, I failed to mention it was the Apple Store training program that taught me to force quit the app each time I was done with it. It is good to learn what was shared by you and others. Thank you.

  59. Maybe, but if so, I can’t find it. (BTW, our on-site search is sort of broken right now, and I’m working on it.) What I did find via Google is an article by @matt3 about how “fast app switching” worked in iOS 4, and you know what, it was the same thing then.

    Whoever taught you that was wrong, sorry! People have incorrect beliefs about how the world works.

    Yes, 100%. The list of apps in the App Switcher merely reflects what you’ve launched recently and has very little relationship to what is running. There is NO way to know what apps are consuming memory or other resources (other than the frontmost app, which presumably always will). iOS handles all that silently in the background.

    That’s absolutely true. The fact that your battery is basically dead will be problematic because iOS will be constantly trying to manage resource usage in a state where readings from the battery are likely unpredictable. A new battery or a new iPhone will likely solve the problem entirely. It’s also conceivable that an erase and restore would as well, but my money’s on the dead battery being the culprit.

    Properly written mapping apps should stop using location services and thus the GPS when you arrive at your destination. If you do something to prevent that “arrival,” such as parking a few blocks before your destination, it would make sense to cancel navigation in the app. Force-quitting would have the same effect, and I can see where it would feel easier than finding the controls to cancel in the mapping app, but we should be clear that all it’s doing is ending navigation. There’s no need to turn location services on and off randomly.

    There is no correct way to quit an app in iOS, and there never has been. Plus, you don’t actually have 5 apps running all the time—you have 5 apps that appear in the App Switcher. There is no way to know what’s is running, although if you force-quit an app, you can be sure it isn’t running until you launch it again, at which point it once again moves into the state of either running or not running based on what iOS determines.

    If it helps you with your OCD, have fun, but be aware that “gone” means only “not in the App Switcher.”

    But these criteria are NOT subjective or cherry-picked! They’re the official word from Apple, the company that produces iOS, quoted chapter and verse, and backed up by advice from programmers and other technical experts. What’s odd about the behavior is that some people persist in claiming that it even after being told that it hurts battery life and performance.

    We complain about hidden gestures a lot, such as having to pull down in Settings on the iPhone to reveal the search field, or pulling down in some apps to force them to refresh. But those are at least recommended everyday actions. In this case, swiping up in the App Switcher isn’t something Apple recommends or even documents in its general documentation (the force-quitting instructions are a support document).

    But the reason that Apple doesn’t talk about removing apps from the App Switcher as a matter of course is that there’s very little reason to do so. The point of the App Switcher is to let you switch quickly between the last few apps you’ve been using, which are always at the rightmost edge. If you have to swipe right to see more apps more than once or twice, you’re likely spending more time looking through an unsorted list (or rather, chronologically sorted by last access) than you’d spend just using the Home screen like Apple intends.

    If your daughter is an iOS engineer at Apple, I’d listen to her. :slight_smile:

    I’ve never used iHeartRadio, but if you suspect any app of using battery when it shouldn’t, you can check the usage in Settings > Battery.

    Cold weather plays havoc with iOS’s battery life estimates, particularly with older/weaker batteries. The problem is that the cold reduces battery performance such that iOS thinks the battery is drained when it really isn’t. My experience is that plugging the iPhone in fixes the estimates as well. Mostly, I try to keep the iPhone in a pocket next to my body so it doesn’t get too cold and shut down unexpectedly when I might need it. Batteries do not like extreme cold.

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that iOS manages resource usage, and thus battery drain, for you, and there’s no way of out-guessing it. The current app is certainly using CPU and memory, and other recently used apps might be, dependent on what iOS determines is best. However, if you force-quit an app, you ensure that relaunching will consume the maximum resources necessary, which might or might not have been the case if you just let iOS do what it was programmed to do.

    As I said in the article, no one other than an iOS engineer equipped with Apple’s internal diagnostic and debugging tools can know that. Only iOS, with all of the data it has on how you use apps and what resources are available at any given moment, can make a decision about the best tradeoff between performance and battery life. Anything is just guessing randomly.

    Wow. Perhaps you have really flaky power or weird electromagnetic emissions in your area or a corrupt iCloud account because that is so completely not the everyday experience of millions of Mac, iPhone, and Apple TV owners. I’m not saying you’re not having problems, but I am saying they’re entirely abnormal. If force-quitting allows you to get some work done, so be it, but there has to be some other cause.

    You shouldn’t have to. Remember how we used to have to allocate memory to apps specifically before Mac OS X? That went away because Unix handles memory management. Like macOS, iOS is Unix, and it does it all for you.

    Yes, that’s correct. Think of it as an infinite Recently Used apps list. That’s why the first one in my list was Apple’s Tips app, which has launched only once, back when I first unboxed the iPhone last fall.

    As @alvarnell said, it’s not much different. Things are a bit more exposed, since you can see what’s going on in Activity Monitor and with Unix utilities, and it’s always possible for an app to leak memory such that it chews way more than it should. I presume that’s true in iOS as well, but iOS kills off rogue apps, whereas I don’t think macOS would ever do that.

    Yes, that’s correct. Restart your iPad only if it’s not working properly—there is no other reason to do so. As far as recharging goes, do that whenever you need to. I charge my iPad randomly because I use it randomly, but my iPhone gets plugged in every night by the bed.

    Funky! Yes, there are perfectly good reasons to force-quit apps, but they’re almost entirely related to fixing problems like this that shouldn’t happen and that the developers should fix. :slight_smile:

    To each their own, I guess. From a UI standpoint, the Home screen is predictable and customizable, which should make it faster to navigate (at least if you’ve set it up to display your preferred apps prominently). The App Switcher is unpredictable and constantly changing, although you get a thumbnail of the app instead of an icon.

    “While Using” the app means you’re looking at it (with the exception of a few app types that Apple allows to use your location in the background for specific tasks, like mapping.) So if you set Location Services to “While Using,” you can be relatively sure that your location isn’t being tracked while you’re using some other app. If you look carefully at the app list (and scroll to the bottom for the key), you can see little arrow icons that tell you more about what is happening and has happened.

    Sigh. With 137,000 employees, it’s not surprising that some people within Apple have failed to read Apple’s own recommendations. Depressing, but not surprising.

  60. I think that’s a little cavalier. I shut down my iPad in order to clean the screen. In normal use, my screen accumulates smudges since i’m not using absolutely clean fingers to tap. Even if there is no danger of liquid leaking inside, it is a lot easier to see and wipe out smudges on a black screen than one even partially illuminated.

    II notice that the surface of my iPhone needs much less cleaning as the screen seems more smudge resistant.

  61. I can easily “out guess” iOS if it is still using any resources to remember that Apple Tips was used a few years ago. What I can’t guess are undocumented or hidden functions, illogical behaviors, or the new normal of poorer interface design.

    And I most definitely don’t want to guess if I’m going to lose years of email if I update to Catalina.

  62. Like so many other online discussions, the participants will almost never convince each other. But there are hundreds of others (currently 786 views by 46 users, vs. 26 people who have posted) reading the thread. Many of them will learn something by reading the back-and-forth. This is good, even if they don’t come to the conclusion that some of the participants would prefer.

    I do the same, but I find that I only need to lock the screen, not power down the entire device.

  63. I agree totally with the comment. I force quit Apps in the Ap Switcher to get clear view of my favorite applications I have an associate who keeps open / running over 150 Apps
    I would NEVER want to swipe through even 10 running Aps
    Battery life is NOT, repeat not, the reason i “clean up” the Ap Switcher


  64. It’s undoubtedly just an entry in a database or plist file or the like. It’s not consuming any resources apart from a few bytes of storage. The entire point is that iOS handles all this.

    As I wrote in the article, it does. No power is used while the device is off (though batteries decline on their own), but startup is slow and expensive. There’s undoubtedly a tipping point somewhere, such that if you shut a device down for 3 hours and then start it up again, say, that saves more power than letting it sleep for 3 hours. But unless you’re in desperate straits to preserve every last bit of power, it’s not worth thinking about or waiting for the slow startup.

    But you wouldn’t because your favorite apps, by virtue of being those you used most, would always be on the right side of the list. I doubt I ever see more than four or five apps in the App Switcher.

    And just to reiterate, apps in the App Switcher are not necessarily running. Almost none of them are, and there is no way to know which are and which aren’t.

  65. You’re not the first person to mention that here.

    I’m curious about this. Your favorite apps I would assume are likely front and center on your home screen. Wouldn’t you save much time and effort by simply launching them straight from there rather than
    a) trying to find them in the app switcher list and
    b) periodically cleaning house in there in an attempt to reduce the amount of crud to sift through while you’re engaging in (a) ?

    I have a strong suspicion that if your home screen is set up right, any app switching beyond the next app (or max the one after that) in app switcher is slower. Any app that comes after that is for sure slower.

  66. With a modern iPad Pro, any touching of the screen, even if dark and locked, shows the locked screen wallpaper. That defeats trying to keep the screen dark for cleaning.

  67. On the privacy issue, much early in the thread, I mentioned that I use Privacy Pro SmartVPN, which is an iPhone app that blocks trackers hidden in apps.

    There is a free version of Privacy Pro that will implement blocking without the paid VPN. I encourage interested users to check out what is happening, even if Location Services are turned off and Background App Refresh is turned off.

    To test, I suggest you force-quit all apps other than Privacy Pro. Then load one iPhone app at a time. You can then view all activities, both legitimate “allowed” activity as well as “blocked” activities.

    What I found was that many of my apps were connecting to unfamiliar URLs. I spent a few minutes looking up those URLs on the internet, and discovered that many of them are internet searchable as entities that are interested in marketing, tracking activities, etc. This observation was true of social media apps (not a surprise), as well as many others such as mainstream banking apps.

    While Privacy Pro blocks many of the unwanted connections, it is not perfect. Some apps break. I have deleted many of the worst offenders, but I continue to want to use others – so I temporarily disable Privacy Pro when I want to use the bad actors.

    To be clear, I force-quit because I want to minimize the activity of apps that engage in undesirable tracker conduct.

    Edit: Here is the Washington Post article that I read last year that discusses what the reporter learned using Privacy Pro.

  68. My preferred App are on my Home Screen or in the Dock so I rarely go to the Ap Switcher on my iPhone or iPad So I am unlikely to see the many ‘open or running(?)’ app.
    At any rate I rarely see my iPhone battery below 80% at night (It is not how I make phone calls) and the iPad is often at 10% at night because my iPad is mainly used as a reader. Screen brightness is the big culprit.

    I will Try to untrain myself WRT to the iOS Ap Switcher


  69. Social discovery is a necessary thing these days. Much of that is simply a logical conclusion of what happens with a small-screen touch-focused user interface. There’s just no room to have visible discoverability of all possible features on an iPhone (at least for non-trivial apps).

    But, just as I hope people have learned useful new ways of interacting with their devices from TidBITS over the years, I was hoping that I could discourage a completely unnecessary and mildly harmful habit that people had picked up from uninformed sources. That was wishful thinking in many cases. So be it—apparently you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t making him stop force-quitting apps unnecessarily. :slight_smile:

  70. 200 on my Xs Max, although I could probably delete at least half of them. All sorted into 6 folders and 16 apps on my single home screen. The ones I actually use are mostly/kinda on the first folder screen. I only use maybe 10 frequently and they are either on my home screen or found via the Program Switcher screen.

  71. Likewise. I’ve got a little more than 100 apps, all on a single screen. Most are in folders with the most-commonly-accessed apps directly on the screen, and the absolutely-most-commonly-accessed apps in the Dock region:

    • Folders:
      • Games
      • Internet (Google Maps, YouTube, etc.)
      • Media (iBooks, Music, Notes, Photos, etc.)
      • Finance (Wallet and apps for my bank accounts and credit cards)
      • Reference (IMDB, Mactracker, etc.)
      • Shopping (Amazon, App Store, etc.)
      • Surveys (I belong to a few survey groups that use apps)
      • Travel (AAA, various airlines and hotels)
      • Utilities (Settings, Camera, Find Friends, etc.)
    • Apps directly on the home screen
      • PCalc - A great replacement for Apple’s calculator
      • Google Authenticator
      • Health
      • Calendar
      • Clock (I really like the animated watch face on the icon :slight_smile: )
    • Apps in the dock region
      • Phone
      • Messages
      • Safari
      • Mail

    Another fun thing I did (which I can thank my daughter for), is that I was able to move every icon from the first home screen to the second. So the primary home screen is completely empty (except for the dock-apps). This way it is easy to show people the wallpaper without icons getting in the way.

  72. This is why I try to get my headphones on as quickly as possible on a flight. Then I won’t be bothered by OCD seat neighbors trying to give me crazy advice on using my iPad. :innocent:

  73. I hugely appreciate all the work you put in — and have put in over the decades — to help us use Apple products more effectively. I owe Tidbits for a lot of the time-saving and more-fun tips I use regularly, and for deeper advice that helps me get the most from things.

    I think in this case though, the key is that for many people it is inaccurate to characterise the behaviour as “completely unnecessary” — it is actually a core part of how they use the device. For whatever reason, to get to an app they find App Switcher to be easier to use than the home screen, or dock, or search. And so they ‘clean up’ App Switcher by swiping apps out of the way.

    This article has usefully pointed out that it is not necessary for any technical reason, and also that in some cases it may be “mildly harmful”.

    As someone who is often asked to help people with computer problems, over the years I have become a bit more sanguine about people’s ingenuity in using their randomly incomplete knowledge of an interface to get a device to do something for them.

    Thanks to things like Tidbits, sometimes I can help them with a better way, that solves some of their problems.

    Keep leading the horses to water. Sometimes you might have to put salt in their feed though. And sometimes they really aren’t that thirsty.

  74. I’m one of those who almost unconsciously quit (I hadn’t thought of it as “force-quit”) apps. I didn’t do it with the idea of conserving memory/CPU, but of making it easier to use the app switcher.

    I didn’t just open an app, use it, then force-quit it: I would quit apps that I hadn’t used for a day or two and was reasonably sure I wasn’t going to use for at least another day or two.

    Since reading the article I forced myself not to do this, and within a few days found that the app switcher became too crowded to be useful. What was the point of it when it became easier to use the home screen–with my apps neatly organized into folders–to switch?

  75. As has been stated in the article at the top, in the Apple KB support article and repeated maybe a dozen times here, it saves battery life and speeds up the time it takes to re-launch the app. If you don’t care about either of these, then you are certainly free to follow your own needs.

  76. I believe that the application switcher was designed to quickly switch between two or three applications in the same session. (Plus of course the added force quit gesture.) If I am composing an email and want to paste in a link from safari, I will switch to it, copy the link, switch back to mail to paste it in, then switch back to Safari to copy a portion from the web site, and switch back to mail to paste the quote in. I really don’t believe that Apple intended the application switcher to be an alternate launcher. (It might be interesting to find the first mention of the app switcher from an iOS keynote; that’s probably a hint of Apple’s thoughts on intended use of the feature from their point of view.)

    The app switcher in iPadOS is a little more rich, because the same app can have more than one presence in the application switcher, such as having Notes in full screen and also in split screen with another app. After launching notes you may want to switch to one of the other instances.

    I know tvOS has its own app switcher, but I only use it when I want to force close a misbehaving app (this happens with the Spectrum app from my cable tv company; quite often it will show an error message on launch that cannot be dismissed, so I need to force close the app.)

  77. This appears to be the core of the issue. People are using the app switcher to launch their apps instead of the home screen.

    The app switcher is good for switching to the previous app (or perhaps the one before that), but it’s not good as a launcher. Using it as a launcher seems to be what triggers the unnecessary / mildly harmful behavior the article bemoans. If people resorted to using the home screen as a launcher and used the app switcher only for switching to the previous app there would be no reason to force quit well behaved apps.

    Now if people turn around and say, but hey I do that because the home screen sucks as a launcher, well then Apple probably has some urgent homework to engage in.

  78. Indeed, and for those with a Face ID device, swiping left and right on the bar at the bottom of the screen is an even more effective way of switching back and forth between a couple of apps. Once you get beyond three or four at the most, it’s difficult or impossible to know what app will be “next.” On my iPhone 11 Pro, I use the bottom-swipe switcher absolutely all the time, but usually just with two apps.

    I’ve never found the App Switcher particularly useful for switching apps, personally, because although the thumbnails are larger than home screen icons, they’re in an unpredictable order and also variable in their display (depending on what screen was showing when I switched away), so I have to look and parse each one to figure out what it is.

    I use the Siri Suggestions (swipe down on the home screen) a fair amount for apps that are buried somewhere among the many apps I have installed. It’s not as predictable as the home screen, but it does a pretty good job of surfacing the right apps. And sometimes I think, “Wow, I need to move that app to the first home screen since I’m using it so much.”

  79. Just drag each icon, one at a time, from the first page to the second page.

    To my surprise, the first page doesn’t disappear when you remove the last icon from it, the way other pages do.

  80. Yup. That’s why I use the app launcher/switcher on both iOS and iPadOS. It’s faster to find a recent app in the launcher than using search or scrolling through many home screens some with folders. But, the app launcher/switcher becomes less useful when apps that I haven’t used for days, weeks, months, clutter up the screen. So, as mentioned by others, I keep the launcher populated with the apps I’m currently interested in using and ‘swipe up’ to get rid of others. You could say, why don’t you organize your home screen to have those apps easily available there? But, that would mean re-organizing the home screen at least weekly, and I find moving apps around the home screens fiddly and annoying, so the app launcher is a better solution for me. I’ve so far not been concerned with battery life.

    As posted earlier, it’s about behavior, not about the right or wrong way to do something.

  81. Without wishing to drag this thread off topic again, I wanted to respond to something regarding the Trash on the Mac:

    You can add a Date Added column to the Trash window in list view and sort by that, to save manually creating folders.

    Overall, I was surprised to read how many people are manually managing the Trash on their Mac. I have “Remove items from the Trash after 30 days” set and so I just throw things away and then don’t think of them again. If I find I need them again, I’m likely to realise in the next 30 days, otherwise the system takes care of it for me. Unless I’m running out of space and need to clear out some large files, it’s not worth the hassle of even thinking about emptying the Trash. The less housekeeping I have to do myself, the better!

    More on-topic, I’ve found this thread really interesting to read! I’m on the side of ‘don’t force quit or even think about app management unless something isn’t working’, but has been fascinating (and at times surprising!) to see how people approach this. And nice to read such a constructive discussion.

  82. Golly, I really need to poke around the interface more. Thank you!

  83. I do not believe that this is a Force Quit. A Force Quit is exactly what it sounds like… forcing an application to quit. This is simply a way of Closing an app and iOS will perform necessary/normal tasks in closing the app.

    Force Quit is performed via the Home/Power buttons and there are 2 different methods that I know of.

    Apps running in the background is exactly the same as on MacOS, where many ‘gurus’ have told us for years that they use almost no power, but this is patently not true. It depends on the app and can be clearly seen in the Activity Monitor. Not only do they use power, but they also use CPU. So they slow your Mac’s performance. However, since 99.9% of users never fully use their Mac’s CPU, it makes little or no difference. For those that do use apps requiring lots of CPU running for extended periods, it does make a difference. Whether you think it’s enough to really matter depends on you as an individual.

    Personally, on iOS I will from time to time Close all those apps which are running in the background and which, typically, I almost never use, but I opened for example, 3 months ago, for some reason or other. They are a pointless drain on resources. On the other hand, constantly Closing apps, that you open every day, or even every two or three days, is probably self defeating.

  84. It is force quit. It’s why this procedure allows to you to “close” an app that’s no longer responding (crashed).

  85. When you swipe to force-quit, the app is given a signal to gracefully exit. However, in the case of a frozen app, after a period of time, the OS does force-quit the app (like pulling the plug). If the app has been suspended (because it hasn’t been used in a long time), it is merely removed from the app switcher. This is why Apple recommends using this swipe-up procedure for apps that are unresponsive. And they do refer to this procedure as “force quit”. See number 1 here.

    This I believe not to be true. As I understand it, iOS is much less forgiving of background processing, and apps are aggressively suspended in the background compared with MacOS, mostly to preserve battery life but also to give the active application as much performance as possible.

  86. You may be thinking about force-restart shortcuts, also mentioned in the article. Those are different and affect the entire device, not just a single app.

    Sorry, but that’s not true. macOS allows very different background behavior because there are so many more resources available (faster CPUs, more memory, larger batteries or wall power).

    But you are correct that background apps on the Mac can use significant power, so anyone who has said otherwise is wrong.

    There’s no harm in doing this, apart from the wasted time you spend doing it, but there’s no benefit either, unless you want fewer items in the App Switcher. iOS ensures that those apps aren’t using any resources.

  87. thanks so much for teaching me about this!

  88. I’l have to see if I can write that up as a tip, since it may not be as well known as it should be.

  89. I doubt it. An app that hasn’t done anything for several weeks has probably already been removed from memory. In that situation, swiping it away is going to be purely cosmetic - it will remove the app from the list but do nothing else.

  90. I wonder if there is a normal “Quit”. Nobody ever mentioned that.

  91. There is no Quit command that is exposed to the user. iOS is designed for the user to expect not to quit an app. iOS and iPadOS are not MacOS.

    However, it is true that apps are supposed to have an internal function to gracefully quit when the OS signals that it is closing an app (whether from a force quit by the user or because the OS needs the resources used by an app that hasn’t been used for a while.)

    Yes, I remember there was a time when the Genius Bar would suggest this, but that was a long time ago.

  92. Great point. I added to my post after your response. While I get the idea I am probably wrong, it seems to me if I don’t worry about using more CPU, Memory, or Battery what’s the harm with quitting and app. I’ll just need to recharge 2 minutes sooner.

  93. I realize this discussion is excessively long, but it has been brought up more than once and the answer is no, there is only one way for a user to quit.

  94. While that might be technically true assuming that Apple’s technote is accurate and not just what a few people at Apple have decided is “best practice”…the overall effect is likely negligible. If you plan on keeping your device for 5 years…2 minutes of extra charging every day is about 60 extra hours over 5 years which is maybe 12 to 15 charge cycles or about 1.5% of the 1,000 minimum it is designed for…which doesn’t seem like anything significant to me. Most iOS devices are replaced more than every 5 years is my guess…so the actual net effect is almost non existent or negligible. If one uses the Program Switcher as your launcher/commonly used apps finder…that negligible reduction in battery capacity is probably just fine…it is to me and although I only force quit misbehaving apps I can see the attraction in keeping the number of apps in the Switcher to a low number…particularly if you’re concerned about privacy as we well know that many apps track you even if only while using is checked…FB for instance. GPS or mapping apps can also be an issue if you never actually arrive at your destination according to the GPS because you pulled into the driveway and the map thinks the address is 30 yards down the street because that’s the center of the Walmart’s address block.

    My contention remains…we must all be really bored because we are spending way too much effort in minutiae…but it ain’t just here…my Ugly Hedgehog photo forum has a debate going on about whether a photo has integrity if you post process it and whether adjusting exposure is more or less bad than replacing the sky or cloning out a piece of trash…that thread has going on 100 or more long winded passionate disagreements about something that doesn’t matter either.

  95. The amount of memory or storage for the screen image is essentially zero. (Technically it obviously has some value, but it’s so tiny in comparison to the resources available, practically it is zero.)

  96. Well, I started following this advice on my iPad, offending as it is to my sense of order, and it’s made a very noticeable difference. I don’t use the iPad a lot, mostly just in the evening to avoid my desktop (which is also my work computer), but even so I had to recharge it every 2-3 nights. It now lasts maybe twice as long.

  97. This may be a bit off topic, but often I kill apps that (1) have access to sensitive information such as banking apps, and (2) apps that I suspect to call home, for whatever reason, in the background. Many news outlets entice you to download their proper apps, but when you use them you have no control whatsoever on how these apps manage cookies or how they behave themselves when in the background.

  98. Settings > General > Background App Refresh
    Settings > Privacy > Location Services

  99. I’ve been very interested in this thread and am amused to see that it continues to stimulate replies.

    Not to unduly prolong the discussion, it sees to me that the main contentions are

    1. ‘quitting’ apps using the app switcher causes undue drain on battery and resources because iOS manages these better than humans

    2. anyway, you can control background app function in iOS Settings > …

    3. and you can use the ‘Home Screen’ to quickly switch between apps. [My devices have a physical ‘Home’ button.]

    With reference to #1, I’ll add that on my iPad I’ve recently noticed an unusually fast battery drain when I do not ‘quit’ the apps I would normally quit, such as Facebook, any news app, or others I don’t want to have continuously conversing with ‘home base’ when I’m not using them. [I have not performed a controlled experiment, just anecdotal observation.]

    With reference to #2, I have limited most apps to ‘While Using’, but does this include while in the app switcher?

    With reference to #3, as I think I’ve said before, organizing apps on screens is somewhat annoying and assumes that you primarily use a single screen full of apps, or that you are willing to hunt through your many screens to find the apps, or that you are willing to constantly rearrange your apps on your screens. For me the app switcher lets me switch between the few apps I am currently using and change that mix quickly by ‘quitting’ apps I’m using less frequently.

  100. I don’t think anybody is saying that you shouldn’t force-quit bad apps that continue to burn resources when they’re supposed to be idle in the background. And Facebook is one of the worst offenders.

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