How-To Geek

How to Force Reboot and Quit Apps on iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

Like all operating systems, sometimes iOS will slow down or applications will freeze. Today, we’ll be showing you what to do in those scenarios by explaining how to force quit applications and how to force reboot the OS.

If you do have an application freeze, your best bet will be to try and force quit the application first. It that doesn’t work, or your device is completely frozen, you can force reboot your device instead.

Force Quit Apps Using Task Switcher (iOS4 Only)

There are two ways to quit apps on iOS devices: the manual method, and the software method, which only works on newer devices able to run iOS4 with multi-tasking enabled.

Since multitasking is enabled on iOS 4, all we need to do to quit an app is open the task switcher by hitting the home button twice, and then hold down on the app we want to quit until it starts jiggling. A red “-” should appear on the corner of the app icon. If we press it, it will quit the app:

Manually Force Quit Apps

If you’re using an older device that doesn’t support multi-tasking, you can quit an application manually—though this also works as a force quit on the newer devices if you prefer. You’ll need to follow the following steps:

  • Hold down the Sleep/Wake Button on the top.
  • Wait for a red slider to appear. Don’t slide it.
  • Let go of the Sleep/Wake Button.
  • Hold down the home button and the app will force quit.

Once you’re back on the home screen the application should be closed, and you can re-open it normally again. Here’s a diagram to better illustrate how it works:

Reboot Your Device Normally

If your device is completely frozen, or you’re having other problems, you’ll want to reboot your device instead of just quitting an app. You can simply hold down the Sleep/Wake button until the red slider appears, and then slide it across.

Once the device is off, you can use the Sleep/Wake button to turn it back on again—just hold the button down.

Force Your Device to Reboot Manually

If the device is just completely frozen—which shouldn’t usually happen, but every so often it does—you can hold down both the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time until the device reboots itself.

Make sure you let go of the buttons once the device starts rebooting, otherwise you might end up in Recovery Mode, which you probably don’t want.

Alex is a Mac geek and former hackintosher, as well as other stuff.

  • Published 11/10/10

Comments (14)

  1. Awesome

    “Make sure you let go of the buttons once the device starts rebooting, otherwise you might end up in Recovery Mode, which you probably don’t want.”

    Or worse, DFU mode which forces a restore.

  2. Moffmo

    I thought DFU and “Recovery Mode” were the same thing?

  3. Kellan

    If you’re jailbroken, get SB Settings and you’ll have the option to restart the springboard, reboot, and shutdown.
    You can also get an SB Settings plugin called RemoveBG which quickly and simply removes all background processes in one touch.

  4. CK

    I thought Mac’s were perfect, and the App Store vetted all these applications to make sure there they were perfect too?

    OK, I’m being snarky & inflammatory here, but I’m serious in wondering if this is a common problem on iOS or not? I was considering getting an iPad.

    Have people run into freezing often? What apps?

  5. AlexLayne

    @Awesome We’re going to cover DFU mode and recovery mode in their own articles.

    @Moffmo They’re not.

    @CK Every OS has stability issues, but in my experience they are extremely rare on iOS.

  6. The Geek


    It’s pretty rare, but sometimes applications do lock up – the problem is that it happens so little that people aren’t sure what to do when it does happen, prompting this article.

  7. JeRrYFaR

    I had no idea you could force quit an app in iOS4 besides the task switcher method. I don’t like the fact that EVERY app you open is now running in the background until you force-close it. :P

  8. Speedy B

    I found that the instructions in : Force Quit Apps Using Task Switcher (iOS4 Only) are not really working. It is more a Recent List than a task switcher.
    After a reboot I found all applications previously available in the Task Switcher still there.

    If you have a jailbroken device and install SBSettings (as suggested by Kellan) you have also a button to kill processes. This realy kills the process

    If you get to the recovery or DFU mode you can use TinyUmbrella to “Kick” the device out of the status and reboot properly.

  9. Doc Rings

    Great tips! I just got my first iTouch the other day (4th gen), and the tips helped.
    The home button “double click” is a winner to access an app running in the background, and the trick to kill the apps was a new one on me. Thanks! I had about 50 apps running in the background!

    I tried the “red slider” power off method, and upon restart, you see the Apple logo for about 45 seconds until you get the log-on screen. It must REALLY power it down!

    Geek out!

  10. Kyle

    I wish Apple had a task manager like Android. Reboot is fast, but it would be nice to just shut down apps that I’m not using instead of a full reboot. I just had Pandora tell me it couldn’t play and that I had to restart the app. I can do this on my Android phone, but had to shut down my iPad to do it. It’s a small complaint though because my iPad could reboot at least twice while my phone before my phone could do it once.

  11. trish

    i am realy looking for help… i have been given an ipad and cant do anything with it… all that appeares on screen is the usb and itunes logo… i cant do anything with it can anyone please help me… i cannot access anything it apeares to be locked help me please

  12. AlexLayne

    @Trish You need to connect the iPad to iTunes to set it up before you can use it.

  13. Dude

    @trish ….read the instructions that come with yer iPad. They are written in fifty diff languages…..

  14. Joyce

    Awesome, safari was froze and the reboot worked thNks

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