How to Stop Apps From Running in the Background on Android

Troubleshoot those battery drains on your smartphone

One of the most common reasons your Android device's battery can drain too quickly is when there are too many apps running that can drain your Android battery. If this is happening to you, one of the easiest things to try first is to stop apps from running in the background on your Android device.

How Background Apps Affect Your Android Battery

Your Android device is well equipped to run multiple apps in the background. If the app is written by a professional programmer, it won't cause any problems with battery or memory consumption.

This is because when an app is running in the background, it will consume only a little bit the device's battery (in the form of memory use or CPU time). Of course, some apps will use more or less depending on what the app is. Your solitare game won't (or shouldn't) be checking your GPS location or performing some other task at intervals.

You can see all of the apps you have running in the background by tapping the square navigation icon at the lower right corner of your Android display.

Screenshot of view background apps and tabs

Keep in mind there may also be multiple windows inside of apps, like multiple tabs inside of the Google Chrome mobile browser. Each of these could potentially consume resources as well.

Unfortunately, there are many poorly written apps on Google Play, and when you install those on your phone, they may consume more battery power, CPU, or memory than they're supposed to.

Over time, if you've installed a lot of apps that you've forgotten about, your Android memory, battery, and CPU could be burdened by the excessive load of poorly written Android background apps.

See Which Apps Run in the Background on Android

The best way to alleviate the burden on your Android's system resources and extend battery life is to make sure the only apps running in the background are the ones you want running.

There are a few ways to see what apps are running in the background and consuming your Android's resources.

  1. Go to your Android Settings, select Developer options, and select Running Services. This will show you the apps which are currently running on your Android, how much RAM they're consuming, and how long the app has been running.

    Screenshot of apps using Android RAM

    If you don't see Developer Options in your settings menu, scroll down and select About phone. Scroll down to the bottom of this screen and find the Build number. Tap Build number seven times. This will enable Developer Options in the Settings menu.

  2. You can see apps consuming battery power by going to Android Settings, and selecting Battery or Battery Usage. Select the three-dot menu at the upper right, and select Battery optimization. In this view, you can use the menu to choose either Optimized or Not Optimized. These will show you which apps are running but optimizing their battery use, and which apps aren't optimizing battery use.

    Screenshot of apps using battery

    If you want to keep an app running but it's listed as Not Optimized, just tap the app name and select Optimize if it's available. This will enable the app's battery optimization features if they're available.

  3. In either of these lists, make a note of which apps are consuming excessive memory or consuming battery power and not optimized. In both cases, note apps you see running that you forgot about or didn't expect to see running in the background.

How to Stop Apps From Running in the Background on Android

Once you have the list of apps you know are either consuming too much RAM or battery, or you just don't want them running, it's time to kill those background apps.

  1. Go to your Android Settings, select Apps, and scroll down to the apps in the list you want to stop.

    Screenshot of all apps running in the background
  2. On the app screen, select FORCE STOP.

    Screenshot of force stopping an app

    If you choose to Force Stop the app, it'll stop during your current Android session. However, when you restart your phone, the app would likely relaunch again. If you want to get rid fo the app permanently, select UNINSTALL on this app screen and confirm the uninstallation.

  3. You could also force stop an app in the list of apps in the Memory usage window you viewed in the last section. To do this, just select any app from the list and tap the three-dot menu at the upper right of the screen. Tap Force stop in the menu to force that application to close.

    Screenshot of force stopping an app from memory list
  4. Whichever option you choose to stop apps from running in the background, just keep in mind stopping the app will only clear battery or memory issues until you restart your phone. Any apps that launch on startup will restart and could cause the same issues. Uninstall any apps you don't use or infrequently use, and this will cure battery or memory issues permanently.