How to Fix a Slow iPad

You don't need to put up with a snail's pace

Woman using tablet computer in coffee shop
Lilly Roadstones / Getty Images

Is your iPad running slowly? Does it seem to get bogged down after a few hours? While this is more common with older iPads that don't have the processing power of the iPad Air line and iPad Pro tablets, even the newest iPad can bog down. There are multiple reasons why an iPad may begin running slow, including an app having issues or simply a slow internet connection. Luckily, this is often easy to fix.

Quit Out of Your Current App

One common reason for an iPad to start chugging along is an issue with the app itself rather than the iPad. If you experience an app that is running slower than normal, it may sound logical to click the home button to close the app and then relaunch it. However, clicking the home button doesn't actually close out of the app. It suspends the app, which basically keeps it frozen in the background. 

Some apps even continue running in the background. These are common apps that stream music like Pandora, Spotify or the Music app that comes with the iPad.

If your problem is mainly with a single app, we'll want to quit out of it using the task screen. This will properly shut the app down and purge it from memory, allowing you to launch a 'fresh' version of it. Please note that you can lose unsaved work by quitting out of the app. If it is currently working at a task, it can be best to wait until the app finishes the task before proceeding.

While in the task screen, it is a good idea to close out of any apps that are playing music. It is unlikely they are causing a problem, and even if the app is streaming the music from the internet, it shouldn't use up enough of your bandwidth to matter. However, closing out of the app won't hurt and will ensure the app isn't impacting anything.

To close the application, you need to bring up a list of all apps that are running in the background:

  1. Double-press the home button at the bottom of your iPad.

    iPad showing the Home button
  2. When you press it twice in quick succession, your most recent apps are shown as cascading windows across the screen. You can navigate through this screen by swiping from left-to-right or right-to-left. The active window will have its corresponding app icon above it.

    Multitasking screen on iPad
  3. You can now close the applications.

To close an individual app:

  1. Hold your finger down on the active window.

  2. Without lifting your finger from the screen, swipe toward the top of the display. This gesture resembles "flicking" the app off the iPad. Remember: You touch the app window, not the app icon.

    Flicking up an iPad app (Safari) to demonstrate forcing apps to quit in iOS
  3. This will allow you to close the app.

Reboot the iPad

Closing apps won't always do the trick. In this case, rebooting the iPad is the best recourse. This will flush everything from memory and give your iPad a clean start.

Many people believe the iPad powers down when the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the iPad is pressed down or when the flap of their Smart Cover or Smart Case is close, but this only puts the iPad in suspend mode.

To reboot the iPad:

  1. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button until instructions appear telling you to slide a button to power off the iPad.

    Slide to power off interface in iOS on iPad
  2. When you slide the button, the tablet will shut down and the iPad's screen will go completely dark. 

  3. Wait several seconds and then boot the iPad back up by holding down the sleep/wake button again. You will first see the Apple logo on the screen and your iPad should boot up shortly.

  4. Your iPad should now reboot.

Once you've rebooted, your iPad should run more quickly but if it starts bogging down again, keep in mind the apps that are running at the time. Sometimes, a single app can cause the iPad to perform poorly.

Is your iPad still running slower than you'd like?

Check Your Wi-Fi Connection

It might not be your iPad that is running slow. It might be your Wi-Fi network. You can check the internet speed of your Wi-Fi network by using an app like Ookla's Speedtest. This app will send data to a remote server and then send data back to the iPad, testing both upload and download speeds.

The average Wi-Fi network in the U.S. gets around 12 megabits-per-second (Mbps), although it is not uncommon to see speeds of 25+ Mbps. You probably won't see much of a slowdown with your connection unless it gets around 6 Mbps or less. That's about the amount of bandwidth it takes to stream movies and video.

If you are experiencing a problem with your Wi-Fi connection, try moving closer to your router. If the speed increases, you may need to look into boosting your Wi-Fi range. This is common in larger buildings, but even a small house can have issues.

Make Sure You Are Running the Current Version of iOS

iOS is the operating system running on the iPad. While a major update sometimes will actually slow the iPad down a little, it is always a good idea to run the latest operating system. Not only will this ensure that you have the most recent performance tweaks, but it also ensures that you have the latest fixes for any security issues.

You can check the version of iOS you are running by going into your Settings app, tapping General settings and tapping Software Update. If you are new to the iPad or iOS, here's how to upgrade to the latest version of iOS.

Install an Ad Blocker

If you are primarily seeing a slow down while browsing the web in the Safari browser but your internet speed isn't slow, it may be more a symptom of which pages you are browsing than the iPad itself.

The more advertisements on a web page, the longer it will take to load. And if any one of those ads stalls out, you may be left waiting for the web page to pop up.

One solution to this is to install an ad blocker. These widgets enhance the Safari browser by disallowing ads to load on the web page. They make both for easier reading and faster loading. Sites like this one make money from ads, so this is a balance you have to wrestle with.

Turn Off Background App Refresh

This one could actually save you some battery life as well as keep your iPad lean and mean. Background App Refresh allows apps to refresh their content even when you aren't using them. In this way, Facebook might reach out and retrieve posts to your wall or a news app may fetch the latest articles.

However, this uses a little bit of your processing speed and your internet connection, so it could the iPad to run a little slower. This usually isn't the main cause, but if you often find the iPad running slow (and especially if the battery drains quickly), you should turn off Background App Refresh.

To turn off Background App Refresh:

  1. Go to your iPad's settings.

  2. Select General from the left-hand navigation menu.

  3. Tap Background App Refresh.

  4. Tap the on/off slider at the top of the screen.

  5. Background App Refresh should now be turned off.

If you're still experiencing slow speeds, there is one more thing you can do.

Clear Storage Space

If you are running desperately low on storage space, clearing up a little extra elbow room for the iPad can sometimes improve performance. This can be accomplished by deleting apps that you no longer use, especially games that you don't play anymore.

It's easy to see which apps are using the most space on your iPad:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Select General from the left-hand navigation menu.

  3. Tap Storage & iCloud usage.

  4. Tap Manage Storage (under the upper Storage section). This will show you which apps are using up the most storage.

  5. You can now choose which apps to clear storage space from.

You can also speed up Safari by deleting your cookies and web history, although this will cause you to log back into any websites that have saved your login information.

Want more tips like this? Check out our hidden secrets that will turn you into an iPad genius.