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How to Stop iOS 8 Apps from Refreshing in the Background



If you updated to iOS 8 and are experiencing decreased battery life or your monthly data allotment is going down the drain, it might be because iOS 8 automatically refreshes apps that are running in the background, even if they aren’t being actively used.

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.

This is known as a “smart” multitasking feature in iOS 8 that allows apps to still remain partially active while it’s sitting in the app switcher, but to some users it may just be a battery-hogging feature. Luckily, you can turn it off so that once you exit an app, it truly pauses everything until you open it back up later.

Plus, 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.

How to Disable 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.

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You should be good to go from there and will hopefully experience better battery life, as well as save on your monthly data allowance.

However, it’s important to note that apps that use GPS will no longer be able to use the GPS while running in the background.This means that if you have navigation up on your phone, but want to switch to another app while navigation still runs, the navigation will quit using the GPS while it’s running in the background, so when you come back to it, you may have some problems.

This is why it’s a good idea to keep Background App Refresh enabled for navigation apps and other apps that use GPS. This is where customizing Background App Refresh comes in handy.

Customizing Background App Refresh

Below the main toggle on the “Background App Refresh” page, there will be a list of your installed apps with toggle switches next to each one.

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These are apps that can utilize the background refresh feature. By default, most of the toggle switches will be green, which means that background app refresh is on for these apps.

You can toggle individual apps and only have specific apps that use the background refresh feature, which is a great way to have better control over what apps can and can’t do when you’re not actively using them.

Personally, I enable background refresh for maps and weather apps, but I disable it for apps that don’t really need to be refreshed in the background, like Evernote, Stocks, YouTube, etc. However, it’s ultimately up to you what apps you don’t want refreshing automatically while they’re running in the background.



  1. Maura

    06/17/2015 at 7:49 am

    Thank you SO much for a clear explanation of how to do this and why it could be useful, plus any limitations. Maybe you can help with some other mysteries of my iPhone–especially in order to prepare for an upcoming trip to Italy, when I’d like to use my phone but not pay too much for the service. I’ll check out your site.

  2. Brett

    07/12/2015 at 11:19 am

    Even though this is off, if I switch to a different app and then switch back, my apps still refresh and I lose my place. Is there another solution to this?

  3. Matt dbg

    07/13/2015 at 1:47 am

    My background refresh is clouded out i cant access it, i can see the apps but a milky cloud covers the screen blocking me from using the buttons, anyone have a workaround for that ?

  4. Tom

    08/10/2015 at 2:08 pm

    You need to go to Settings/General/Background App Refresh.
    Then turn the main Background App Refresh ON
    Then go below to the list of apps and individually turn Background App Refresh on or off.
    Then go to the top of the page and turn the main Background App Refresh switch OFF.

    You probably found that you could not change the settings for individual apps because you went directly to your app list under Settings instead of Settings/General/Background App Refresh.

  5. yoyoy

    09/04/2015 at 2:13 am

    this sucks soooooo bad

  6. Karen

    11/18/2015 at 6:57 pm

    My MAIIN background app fresh is clouded out on my iPhone 6.i can’t even get to the sub account apps. Any suggestions?

  7. Kim meyers

    12/29/2015 at 9:23 am

    I had to turn my apps off individually, otherwise a couple of the individual apps were locked on and clouded over (facebook and basis peak fitness watch) I have an iPhone 4s and I’m still not convinced it can handle the operating system update. So if you don’t have to update, think twice.

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