How to Stop Android Apps Running in the Background

Android Apps Running Background Featured

Does your Android phone’s battery drain faster than expected? One of the reasons for this could be the apps that continue running in the background long after you have moved on to a different task altogether. These apps drain your battery and also eat up your device’s memory. You can stop Android apps from running in the background and save your phone’s precious memory and battery life by using a few methods shown to you in this guide.

Note: for this guide, we used a Google Pixel 3a running Android 11. The steps may vary depending on the make, model and Android version your device is running.

Find out which apps are running and consuming the most battery life

This will help you know which apps are open and running, how long they’ve been running, and the amount of RAM they’re consuming.

To do this, go to Settings and tap “Developer Options.” (If it is not available, follow this link to find out how to activate the Developer Options.) This should be under the System sub-menu.

Stop Android Apps Background Developer Options

Select “Running Services.”

Stop Android Apps Background Developer Options Running Services

In the Running Services screen, you’ll see a list of the background apps running on your device.

Stop Android Apps Background Developer Options Running Services List

To see the apps draining your battery, go to the main Settings screen again. There you should see a Battery menu. From the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, choose “Battery usage.”

Stop Android Apps Background Running Battery Usage

In the new screen, you can see the apps consuming the majority of your battery.

Stop Android Apps Battery Usage App List

How to Force-Stop Android from Apps Running in Background

To stop Android apps from running in the background, you just have to force-stop them. This is a pretty “aggressive” way of closing an app and means it’s possible your data or your recent game progress won’t be saved until you stopped, so it may be forgotten.

Think of it like switching your PC off without shutting it down properly: it comes with some risk of losing some data but won’t do any long-term damage to the app, nor will it wipe the app.

Note: when you force-stop Android apps, it doesn’t prevent them from running in the background the next time you open them.

You can force-stop Android apps directly from the “Running Services” menu under Developer Settings or directly from the “Battery usage” sub-menu.

Under “Running Services,” if you select an app that is using up a lot of RAM, you can select it and simply hit Stop to stop it from running.

Stop Android Apps Background Stop Running Services

You can also force-stop apps under Battery usage. Select the apps you want to stop, then hit “Force stop.”

You’ll see a warning that says: “If you force stop an app, it may misbehave.” Don’t worry about this warning and tap OK.

Stop Android Apps Background Stop Battery Usage

Alternatively, a more general method of stopping apps is to go to Settings and tap “Apps and notifications.” Select the option that lets you see all of your installed apps.

Stop Android Apps Background Apps Notifications See All 1

Scroll down through the list of apps and find the ones you want to stop. To stop an app, tap it and select “Force stop.” This will stop the app during the current session, though it’ll relaunch when you reboot your phone.

Stop Android Apps Apps Notifications Force Stop

If you don’t need the app altogether, you can long-press its icon and select Uninstall, or on the same screen, tap Uninstall and confirm your action.

Stop Android Apps Apps Notifications Uninstall

Optimizing Your Phone with Adaptive Battery and Sleep

If you go to “Settings -> then Battery,” turning on “Adaptive Battery” will extend your battery life based on your phone use. This setting essentially limits the amount of system resources that are made available to apps you hardly use.

It figures out the apps you want to use and those you won’t use on that day using machine learning. It learns your usage patterns and drops the commonly-used apps into one of five App Standby Buckets: Frequent, Active, Working Set, Rare and Never.

Stop Android Apps Background Adaptive Battery

Samsung phones have some extra functionality in this area that lets you pick apps to put to sleep when you’re not using them.

On your Samsung, go to “Settings -> Battery and device care -> Battery.”

Here, tap “Background usage limits,” then switch on the slider for “Put unused apps to sleep.” Underneath that you can choose which apps you want to go to sleep.

Stop Android Apps Running Background Samsung

General Battery Optimization

You can also do some general battery usage optimization by going to “Settings -> Apps and notifications -> Special app access.”

Select “Battery optimization.” Choose “All apps” from the drop-down menu to optimize the battery use of all apps.

You can also choose to optimize the battery usage of individual apps if you don’t want to turn on battery optimization for every single app.

Stop Android Apps Running Background Battery Optimization

Android updates come with several features that help you optimize your phone’s memory consumption and battery life among other performance issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need to properly “close” apps on Android?

Android apps have a funny way of “closing.” This is unlike on PC or Mac, where you can usually close a program and kill its process simply by clicking the “x” icon in the corner of the window.

On Android, the very idea of “closing” an app works quite differently. There is no dedicated button to close an app when it’s open. Yes, you can press the “Home” or “Back” buttons, and the app disappears from your screen, but at that point, they’re simply on standby in the background.

Stop Android Apps Running Background Recent Apps

To “kill” an app from running in the background, tap the square icon (or “Recent Apps” on Samsung devices), then swipe up on each app you want to close.

2. Why do Android apps continue to run in the background?

To a greater extent than windows on your PC, Android apps continue to run, as they often maintain an online connection to let you know if you get messages, send you notifications, and other online-dependent app behavior.

3. Will closing background apps save data?

Data is a much smaller concern than battery life with apps running in the background. Using our guide above, you can find out which ones use the most data, which will give you an idea of how much background data they use dependent on your usage. But for the most part, there are better ways to reduce data usage than closing background apps.

Keep in mind that in addition to shutting down apps running in the background, you can also block Internet access for specific apps to save on resources. Read on to learn how to cast YouTube from your iOS or Android phone to your PC.

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