Tech 1,354 views Apr 22, 2016
How to stop Android apps running in the background

Many apps that run in the background are doing so for good reason: syncing, providing location data or otherwise doing what they were designed to do. But not always. If you want to know which apps are running excessive background processes or want to stop apps running in the background entirely, read on to find out how.

Process stats and battery usage
If you want to know which apps are running background processes and how power hungry they are, both in terms of processing and battery, Android has the following built-in monitoring options:

  • Enable Developer Options by going to Settings > About Device and tapping the Build number until you are notified that Developer Options have been enabled.
  • Go to Settings > Developer options > Process stats to see how much of the time your key apps are running. Tap any app to see how much RAM it's using.
  • Go to Settings > Battery then tap the individual apps to see how much battery they're using.


Which apps should I stop running in the background?
Two big culprits of background memory and battery use are games you're not playing, and music players you're not using. If you can't see a logical reason for an app you know well to be running in the background, then you should probably close it. As a general rule, you should leave most apps or services that start with the word 'Google' running. Really essential services won't let you force stop them anyway, but you also shouldn't stop the following apps:

  • Google Search, Google Play services, Google Contacts Sync, Google Keyboard, Google Play Store 

The Process stats list should give you a pretty good idea of which apps you want to leave running in the background based on how much you use them. The list is a good place to stop bloatware or services you might not use, such as Google Play Music.


How to disable, stop and uninstall background apps

If you have an app that you think is using an unreasonable amount of processor power or seems to be running in the background way more than it should, then you can either:

  • Disable it in your App Manager by going to Settings > Applications > Application manager, tapping the app, then tapping Disable.
  • Since the Lollipop update, you can close recent apps easily by tapping the Recent Apps navigation button on your phone (to the right of the home button), then swiping left or right to close apps you ran recently.
  • Delete it from your phone by going to Settings > Applications > Application manager, tapping the app, then tapping Uninstall.
  • Or Force Stop it by going to Settings > Applications > Application manager, swiping right to the Running tab, tapping the app, then tapping Force Stop.

If you have no idea what an app or service is, then you probably shouldn't stop it, unless it's really using up a lot of RAM or battery, and you don't mind risking your phone crashing.



Greenify is an app hibernation app, that lets you put apps to sleep when you're not using them. It's basically an automated version of force closing or disabling apps every time you stop using them and then turning them back on when you need them. But doing that manually is a pain. Hence Greenify is one of the best app management apps around.



To get the full benefits of Greenify you need root access, and we have guides on how to root your Nexus 5, HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5, among other phones. Just search AndroidPIT for your device name and 'factory reset'.

Non-rooted users, for example, won't be able to automatically hibernate apps, but can simply flick a widget switch to put your apps to sleep (not a bad fix if you don't want to root your device). If you're serious about managing your background processes, Greenify is the tool you need.

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