How to Force-Quit or Close an iPad App

Screenshot of iPad

Did you know hitting the Home Button doesn't actually close an app? It might look like it closes because the Home Screen reappears, but most apps will remain open in the background. Some apps like will even keep running, which is important for apps like Pandora Radio to continue streaming music.  But if you need to shut down an app because it is behaving erratically or you suspect it is causing other problems such as slowing down your iPad, simply clicking the Home Button won't do the job.

How to Force-Quit an App

To force an iPad app to close, you must first get to the multitasking screen and control panel. This is the screen that shows the most recent apps that have been opened on the iPad. It's great for switching between two apps and essential for closing apps. 

Open the multitasking and control screen by double clicking the Home Button at the bottom of your iPad. This is the physical button just below the iPad's display. It is also used for Touch ID.

The multitasking screen will appear with the most recently opened iPad apps displayed as windows across the screen. Each window has the icon above it along with the name, so it is easy to identify a particular app. You can also slide your finger from left to right and scroll through additional apps, so if the app in question isn't your most recently used, you can still get at it.

Apple has made it very easy to "force close" an app. Simply hold your finger down on the app window you want to close and then slide your finger to the top of the screen without ever lifting your finger from the iPad's display. This will cause the app to shut down immediately. Think of it as "flicking" the window off of the iPad.

Remember, in order to quit the app, you must drag the miniature window, not the app's icon. You should also be careful to keep your finger on the screen throughout the entire process. Try "grabbing" the app by touching in the middle of the window and then swiping up toward the top of the display.

What If Closing the App Doesn't Resolve the Problem?

The next step after force-quitting an app is rebooting the iPad. When you click the Sleep/Wake button at the top of the device, the iPad simply goes to sleep. To properly reboot the iPad, hold the sleep/wake button down for several seconds until you see the instructions to "slide to power down" the iPad. Follow these instructions and wait until the iPad's display goes completely dark before clicking the sleep/wake button to power it back on again. Get more help rebooting the iPad.

If you are having problems with a specific app and rebooting doesn't solve it, you should try deleting the app and then download it again from the App Store. Don't worry, you won't have to pay for the app again. However, you will lose anything that you have saved in the app unless the app saves it to the 'cloud', such as Evernote saving your notes to the Evernote servers.  

Do I Need to Always Force-Quit Apps?

No. iOS is intelligent enough to know when you are using an app or need an app to run in the background. When you switch apps, iOS tells the app it has a few seconds to wrap up what it's doing. Likewise, the app can ask iOS "Hey, I need more time to do this" or, in the case of audio, "The user will be all kinds of bummed out if I stop playing music, so I'll just be playing music, okay?" and iOS will grant those apps the processing power they need.

For all other apps, when you decide to switch to another app, iOS suspends the app you were in and that app stops getting resources like the processor, screen, speaker, etc. Don't let anyone tell you any differently: force-quitting an app is not anything you need to do on a regular basis.

What Are Those Other Button on the Screen?

You probably noticed there were more than just app windows on the screen after you double-clicked the Home Button. Apple combined the multitasking screen with the control panel. Those other button will allow you to control your music, adjust the volume, turn on/off features like bluetooth or Wi-Fi, lock the rotation of the screen, etc. If you are curious, read up on all of the features of the control panel.