Turn On or Off Background App Refresh on the iPad

Keep your favorite iPad apps ready to go when you need them

Person holding an iPad with Background App Refresh settings on the screen


Introduced with iOS 7 and still going strong on iOS 13, Background App Refresh is a feature that readies apps before you use them.

Turn it on to allow your grocery store apps to gather current coupons before you get to the checkout line, or to have recent social media posts waiting for you when you open Facebook or Twitter.

The instructions in this article apply to iPads running iOS 7 through iOS 13.

Why Use Background Refresh?

Background Refresh works great if you use specific apps on a regular basis, however it does drain battery life, as apps run in the background long enough to download the most current data. If you are concerned about battery life, turn off the Background App Refresh feature for some or all of your apps.

This feature is all about convenience, but you probably don't need every app to refresh in the background. It may make sense for your Gmail app to have messages ready for you whenever you open it, and if you are a news fan, you'll want CNN to be current when you open your iPad.

However, there's not much point in background refresh for your Amazon shopping app, your smart appliance controller, or your Kindle app. This feature is all about personalization.

How to Choose the Background App Refresh Setting for Apps

By default, all apps are activated in the Background App Refresh settings. To change that, follow these steps:

  1. On the iPad Home screen, tap the Settings app to open it. 

    Settings icon on iPad
  2. Scroll down the left menu and choose General.

  3. Select Background App Refresh.

    Background App Refresh in General iOS Settings on iPad
  4. To turn off the Background App Refresh feature completely, toggle the Background App Refresh switch to the Off position (white).

    Background App Refresh toggle on iPad
  5. To allow some apps to refresh and not others, turn the toggle switch next to the corresponding app to the On (green) or Off (white) position.

    Individual app Background Refresh toggles on iPad