Stop force-closing apps

Explanation courtesy of Lifehacker:


My friend does this compulsively. I would send her this video but that would only entrench her further. Total polarity responder.

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Hey, it’s Apple’s fault for making the gesture so pleasant. (I don’t actually force close apps.)

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I do it every once in a while as a means of fidgeting, even though I know better.

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I only close apps when the leave private or sensitive information visible.

I suppose it’s not surprising that a 90 second video on this would be oversimplified.

I still force close “bad actor” apps - ones that run too often in the background and consume more power than I’d like. Apple Notes is one of the worst offenders here. I have an iPad mini that I use for ebook reading and, occasionally, for taking notes on what I’m reading. I’ve seen Apple Notes, brought up once and then left in the background, halve the battery life of the device. Of course it depends on the usage pattern, what else is running, and more. But, still, force closing is only mostly a bad idea, not always one. Another app that I see occasionally being a problem is Spark. Why? No idea. Maybe it gets confused by the intermittent connectivity around here.

Overall apps like these that have gotten a lot better over the years. The great thing about the Battery section in Settings is that there are tools now to identify the exceptions.

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I want a force close all gesture!


I force close apps on my iPad all the time. It’s not because I think that I gain any performance benefit from it, but it’s because the way that app spaces are ordered by most recently used. If I am working with a set of apps and have to one one that’s not a part of that work, then after that the latest one is sitting at the head of the list, which I find bothersome at times. It’s easy to get rid of the problem by just flicking the interloper away when finished with it.

Also, some apps simply don’t refresh properly unless they’re forced to restart.


I use Apple notes all the time and have never seen it drain battery. Even after using it for hours with the Apple Pencil it’ll only have used a small percentage of battery.


That hasn’t been my experience. I suspect that the problem with Notes is that it just Never Shuts Up. Second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day it’s doing its sync thing in the background. On a device that sees a lot of other use and gets charged at least daily it may not be that noticeable. On a device like the one that I’ve repurposed as an eReader that sees more casual use and charging it can be (and is for me if I leave it running) the dominant source of battery use. Even on my phone, which may have dozens of apps listed in the battery section, Notes is always one of the top few entries. It’s low on screen time but high on background activity.

Articles with advice on decreasing energy use at home always emphasize the importance of “energy vampires.” Those are devices that may not use much power at any given time but are always using something and so have an outsized impact. Notes, for me, is the energy vampire of iOS. Get out the garlic!


Aren’t the resources that the phone uses to shut down/restart negligible?

That said, my phone used to always get hot when I left the camera app open, closing it would immediately cool the device. This has since been fixed, but I still close it if I notice its open.

Just checked and the camera app was open/frozen and I left it there…

I usually explain it to people like this:

Yes, you can close apps like that, but I can also put you to sleep by hitting you over the head with a baseball bat. That doesn’t mean it’s good for you. There is a good chance you’ll forget something and never be the same afterwards. It’s best to let you decide when you are ready for sleep.


Booting up is one of the most energy expensive things the iPhone can do.

Leaving an app open on the screen is a very different thing from leaving it ‘open’ in the background. iOS very quickly pauses execution of the application logic, with the exception of some very specific APIs that allow very specific operation in the background. An obvious one is the audio API, so things keep playing. However most other things (like internet access) are cut off if the app has been idle for up to ten minutes.

When you leave an app open in the background, and it doesn’t have a specific API running (and only those APIs execute, most of the app is asleep) then that app is using no energy.

Waking that app up is just a matter of retrieving the application state from whatever part of memory or storage it’s been saved to. Some apps handle this better than others, and some apps will need to refresh. Even in these cases, the process is faster and more efficient for loading in an existing application state, then for completely rebuilding the application state from scratch.

Some apps have abused APIs such as the audio API (Facebook) and the background refresh API (facebook) as well as silent notifications (facebook) to keep their apps operational in the background for longer than Apple intended. This is why the Facebook app eats your battery all day long, and will do so even if you disable location services access and background refresh for the app.

For any good citizen app, force quitting and reopening the app uses an order of magnitude more energy. Not a big deal if you do it once or twice, but if you do it habitually as part of navigating between apps you’re using significantly more energy over the course of a day and it will make a noticeable impact on your battery life.

If your apps are built on a garbage framework like, say electron - then there’s half a gigabyte of junk application state to rebuild, too, so it’s a wonder people don’t get pissed off with the likes of Slack, MS Teams, and others more often.


One thing I always try to keep in mind with these discussions is that it all depends on how the software has been written. iOS has been designed to put apps to sleep and save energy. iOS apps should be designed to behave gracefully if force-quit. Some apps might try and abuse things, true, but even if everyone is playing ball it just doesn’t work out as intended all the time because of bugs in both the software and in iOS, (and also due to corruption of system memory etc… I think…).

If I am using an app that needs all the resources my iPhone 6 has to offer then I get noticeable, repeatable, improved results by force-quitting other apps. Sometimes life just doesn’t follow the plan.

I force-quit Instagram when I am “done” using it because it mentally helps me switch away from social media mode and also I don’t trust Facebook apps not to do a lot of things in the background :eyes: