How to Close Apps on Android

Shut off running apps to free up memory and declutter

Mobile apps on smartphone connecting to man's head

Gregory Baldwin / Ikon Images / Getty Images Plus

To close apps on Android just means to shut them down. You might shut down Android apps if they're not responding normally, if your phone or tablet is low on memory, or maybe even just to clear up the screen.

It's not usually required that you shut down apps on Android because your device should be handling them appropriately, shuffling memory back and forth between apps you're actively using and the apps running in the background. In fact, constantly shutting down apps might make your device run even slower.

However, if there's a specific reason you want to clear the apps, you can do so pretty easily.

Shutting off, killing, or clearing away Android apps isn't the same as deleting them. You need to uninstall an Android app to remove it completely.

These directions should work no matter who made your tablet or phone — Google, Samsung, Xiaomi, etc.

How to Kill Apps on Android

There are a couple ways to shut off apps on Android. You can close running apps from the home screen or from your device's settings.

From the Home Screen

The quickest way to close apps is to do it right there on the home screen at any time:

  1. View all the running apps on your device. How you do this depends on your phone and the Android version it's running. If you're not sure how your device shows running apps, try the different methods that are available:

    • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (but don't swipe too far up or the app drawer will open).
    • Tap the small square icon on the bottom of the screen.
    • Press the physical button on the bottom of your phone/tablet that looks like two overlapping rectangles. You might not see it light up until you press in that area next to the home button.
    • On Samsung Galaxy devices, press the Recent Apps button to the left of your home button
  2. Swipe up and down or left and right (depending on your phone) to find the app you want to close down.

  3. Swipe up on the app you want to kill, as if you were throwing it off the screen. This works if your apps are listed horizontally like in this screenshot:

    Android app closing with a swipe

    Or, for vertically listed apps, swipe the app left or right to immediately close it.

    Close an Android app via the Overview

    On some Android devices, there's an exit button on the top right of each app when in this view, and you can tap it to close the app. If you see a three-lined button at the bottom with a small x on it, tap it to close all the recently opened apps.

    Some devices have a Clear all option if you swipe all the way to the left. Tapping that will kill all the apps at once.

  4. Repeat steps two and three to close any of the other running apps. When you're finished, select an empty space next on the edge of the screen or press the home button.

Using the Apps Manager

Your phone/tablet has a built-in manager for apps that you should use if you need to close background apps (apps that are running but don't show up when you follow the method above).

When you use the settings to close running apps, there are more options than what you'll find in the swiping method above, but be aware that this option isn't as friendly and is geared more toward killing unresponsive apps rather than exiting gracefully.

  1. Open the settings and tap Apps & notifications. On some Android devices, you'll need to look for Apps, App Management, Application manager, or General > Apps.

  2. Tap See all <#> apps and then locate the problem app that you want to shut down. If you don't see that option, then you should already be viewing a list of the apps on your device, in which case you can scroll through to find the app you want to close.

    Settings and Apps & notifications screens on Google Pixel
  3. Select the app and choose Force Stop.

    App info and Force stop screens on Google Pixel

    On some Android devices, this screen is also one way you can uninstall the app if you're not even sure why you have it in the first place.

  4. Tap OK or FORCE STOP to confirm that you want to kill the running app.

Once the app has been stopped, you can open it again normally, but be advised that the destructive nature of forcing an app to close down may have caused some corruption or unintended behavior.

How to Shut Down Running Services on Android

Services are usually not something the average person needs to deal with, especially considering that the ability to do so isn't available by default. However, if you know what you're doing and you need to terminate a service that a particular app is running, it's a pretty straightforward process.

  1. Enable developer mode. This is a special mode on your Android device that lets you view and edit settings that a normal user can't see.

  2. Tap Developer options from Settings > System > Advanced. Some older Android devices store the developer options in Settings > System.

    Settings and System screens on Android 10
  3. Select Running services, and scroll through the list to find and select the app that's running the service you want to kill.

  4. Choose Stop next to the service you want to end. Depending on your device, you might need to press OK to confirm.

    Developer options, Running services, and Running app screens on Android 10