iPhone outline with an Apple logo

By default, your iPhone (or iPad) lets apps check for new data in the background. It can reduce loading times when switching back to an app, but it also reduces battery life, takes a bit of cellular data, and could allow some apps to spy on you. Here’s how to turn “Background App Refresh” off.

First, open the “Settings” app on your iPhone.

In “Settings,” tap “General.”

In Settings on iPhone or iPad, tap "General."

In “General,” tap “Background App Refresh.”

In General, tap "Background App Refresh."

Next, you’ll see the “Background App Refresh” settings. If you’d like, you can disable Background App Refresh on an app-by-app basis here. Just tap the switch beside each app you’d like to disable to turn it off.

In 2019, the Washington Post discovered that some apps use the Background App Refresh feature to send data about your activities through the internet when you don’t suspect it, so unless you completely trust an app vendor and think the refreshing is likely useful to you, it is probably best to turn the feature off for most of your apps.

In "Background App Refresh" settings, you can turn the feature on or off for individual apps.

Luckily, Apple also makes it easy to completely disable Background App Refresh. To do so, tap “Background App Refresh” at the top of the page.

Tap "Background App Refresh" again.

On the next screen, select “Off” from the list.

In "Background App Refresh," select "Off."

After that, exit Settings, and you’re all set.

Interestingly, Background App Refresh is one of the features that gets disabled when you enable Low Power Mode on your iPhone. Your iPhone will use less battery power in idle mode from now on.

RELATED: How to Use Low Power Mode on an iPhone (and What Exactly It Does)

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.