Clearing Up Confusion On How The iOS Multitasking Really Bar Works

I am sure you have heard from people, read an article, or even been told by someone working in Apple’s Genius Bar that clearing the iOS multitasking bar is a good habit to get in to. I know for the longest time I would make it a daily ritual to clear my multitasking bar before going to bed thinking that it would help conserve battery life and make my iPhone more responsive.

According to numerous sources around the web such as John Gruber, however, this is a total lie. When you clear your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad’s multitasking bar you are simply deleting your application launching history and nothing more. This is because your iOS multitasking bar is not like a command tab switcher on Mac or Windows. It is not a list of currently “running” applications. It is simply a list of your most recently used applications, whether they’re running in the background, suspended in memory, or completely inactive.

If you don’t believe me then I have a quick test for you to do to prove that this is actually the case. First take note of what applications are in your iOS multitasking bar. Then restart your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad and take another glance at the iOS multitasking bar. You will notice that the same applications are present; proving that the iOS multitasking bar is not an actual list applications running in the background.

iOS Multitasking Myth

Apple has designed the iOS multitasking bar to be smart and always stop applications if they are taking too much memory up or are consuming too much battery life. Apple would never design a multitasking system that would require you to manually remove applications from running in the background, that would be too much work for the user.

If you would like a more technical explanation of how the iOS multitasking bar works then you can click here. The bottom line is, however, that clearing the iOS multitasking bar is a waste of time and is of no use to actually do. That is unless you are doing it purely to delete your application launching history.

Please share any questions or thoughts in the comments section below on this topic of how the iOS multitasking bar really works.

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  • Yatezy

    If this id true why does my available memory increase on my phone when i clear the background apps? Which in turn generally makes a slight difference to the performance of my phone.

  • Chinesegolessonzgq

    Thank you I was always wondering and never decided to look it up. This is a great website and keep up the good work

  • MyNinjaPenguin

    Um… this makes no sense. Am I misunderstanding what “clearing” the taskbar means? I have a Cydia tweak that tells me how much RAM is available at the moment, and when there’s a game running in the taskbar, the number is dramatically lower. And it’s clear just by observing that if many programs are in the taskbar at once, it affects the performance of high-memory apps like Infinity Blade or AVPlayer.

  • D Rivlin

    This really helped me i thought it saved battery to do that

  • Dom

    I agree it does free ram up. I always delete them and have gotta great battery life.

  • Anonymous

    OH MY GOD, STUPID PEOPLE. Not all apps in the bar are running, or on standby, but deleting one MAKES SURE that it is stopped. iOS only gets rid of apps from the background if their RAM usage could hinder the foreground app’s performance. Otherwise they are kept awake (unless you kill them) as long as possible before your device runs out of RAM so that they can be quickly restarted.

  • Anonymous

    Because closing apps in the multitasking bar DOES kill them. It makes sure they’re dead. iOS would manage it for you as it sees fit otherwise, but on older devices (even iPhone 4 and same generation devices) killing apps may yield a slight increase in speed because the device’s concept of what is “enough RAM” may be older, and it can’t get away with that much anymore, meaning it doesn’t kill apps soon enough.

  • Anonymous

    Except iJailbreak wasn’t first to read up and report on the article that started all this

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, but not ALL the apps in there are running, the farther you go in your history, the more likely those apps are just there as “recent” and have been shut down by the OS. But I do see the same thing happen when i kill apps.

  • Cyril Lim

    I know, right? ;)

  • Anonymous

    This is pretty obvious to anyone who pays attention for two seconds. Many times per day I’ll go back to an app via the switcher bar and have it reload from scratch because the system had shut it down at some point to conserve memory. And with sbsettings I have my available memory displayed on my title bar, so I can even tell when it’s done this – the memory will jump from, say, 18MB to 250, and I’ll know that the next time I pull up my web browser it’s going to be reloading all my tabs from scratch.

  • James W

    interesting post,thanks for sharing

  • Woody

    Well I know leaving things in the task bar kills my battery. If I leave say the game My Horse suspended in the task bar my battery will drain like 20% overnight and if I remove the game my battery doesnt budge. Also my ram will drop from 135 mb to 54 when the game is in the task bar. I dont care what Apple says about leaving things there. I slows the phone down and kills the battery. Then again thats on my 3GS. Maybe with the 4s its not a problem but I know on both my iphone 4 and 3 GS it kills the battery and RAM

  • Matt

    Thanks for this info dipshit.

    -Stupid Person

  • Sheriffshareef

    why does tom tom continue to give directions and drain my battery?

  • MyNinjaPenguin

    Okay, now THAT makes sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Mspp

    If I don’t close FB, VLC player has a hard time trying to playing movies. That extra memory is enough to make me close all apps

  • Marcos Borges

    Actually I think the post title is kind of messed up.

  • Mhjleoking

    what about free up memory in sb settings????

  • Anonymous

    lol yeah, “multitasking really bar works” …umm, right.

  • Pingback: iOS 5 Multitasking Shown On Video; Makes Things Clearer | iPhone 5 How To - Jailbreak iphone 4s | Unlock()

  • Bruce C909

    So what happens when I 4-finger swipe sideways? Am I just cycling through most recently used apps in sequence?

    One good reason to clean up the multitasking bar is so the sideswipe only shows you the apps you want to see.

  • Uzair Amir

    Hi.. Thanks for info but i have updated iphone 3Gs from ios 4.1.1 to 5.1.1 but now only skyperuns in the background. I can not get msgs on whatsapp or on any messenger until i open it. Cqn u guve me an ide whats wrong? Please?

  • bettybabynurse

    I don’t have an orientation lock icon in my multitasking area. So how do I unlock my screen orientation on an iPhone 5s? Please