How to Stop iPhone Apps from Using Mobile Data in iOS 8

If your iPhone cellular plan uses a small monthly data allowance, you have to be rather careful about how you spend those megabytes each month. One thing to be aware of is that some iPhone apps can hog mobile data even when you’re not actively using them. Here’s how to disable that.

A feature called Background App Refresh was introduced in iOS 7 last year, and it allows apps that have access to this feature to refresh content in the background while you’re not actively using the app. At first, you may think that when you exit an app to go back to the home screen, that app will pause itself completely until you return to it. However, it actually refreshes data while it’s running in the background so that you won’t have to refresh it manually when you return to it.


Background App Refresh can suck up your data allowance in no time. If you’re constantly out on the go and have numerous apps that are running in the background, those apps are continuously refreshing for new information and using up data in order to do so. It’s simply a waste of your data for apps to be doing this, which is why it’s a good idea to disable the feature.

You can also prevent some apps from even working on a cellular connection in the first place if you need to save on data, allowing them to only work while you’re connected to WiFi. Here’s how to do it.

Disabling Access to Cellular Data

To see a list of apps that have the all-clear to use cellular data, open up the Settings app and navigate to Cellular. Scroll down to the section titled Use Cellular Data For: and you’ll see a list of apps with toggle switches next to each one.


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Turn off any apps that you don’t want to using cellular data. This can include apps like the App Store, FaceTime, Passbook, Photos, etc. For apps that you know you’ll use while on the go, be sure to keep them on, that way you can use them when you’re out on the road.

Disabling Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh is a feature that is enabled by default, so in order to shut it off, you’ll have to fiddle with some settings. Thankfully, it’s really easy to manage.

Open up the Settings app and navigate to General > Background App Refresh. This will open up a window with a list of installed apps with toggle switches next to them.

At the top, you’ll want to tap on the toggle switch next to Background App Refresh to turn the entire feature off if it isn’t already. From there, the toggle switch will go from green to white/gray.



You can also leave it on, but select only certain apps to be allowed to refresh in the background.

Why You Should Disable Access to Cellular Data

If you don’t have an unlimited data plan (which is probably most of you), then you most likely have a limited amount of data each month, and if you go over that limit, you’ll be charged heavy fees.

Apps that consume a lot of data will quickly eat away at your monthly allotment. This can include app updates, FaceTime calls, syncing photos through Photo Stream and more. Disabling these kinds of apps from using cellular data will prevent them from sucking up your data allowance, thus saving you cash on data overages.

To find out which of your apps are the biggest data hogs, open up the Settings app and navigate to Cellular. Scroll down to the section titled Use Cellular Data For:. You’ll see a number with “MB” next to it under each app name. This is how many megabytes that app has used over cellular data, so if you’re unsure of which apps to disable, start with apps that are consuming the most megabytes.