How to purge iPhone memory without rebooting

By , Dec 15, 2015

System Monitor for iOS iPhone screenshot 001

As you use apps on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, iOS dynamically manages system memory (don’t confuse RAM with storage), allocating chunks of RAM to foreground and background tasks and suspending memory usage for apps that are not actively running in the background.

For the most part, iOS manages RAM efficiently to ensure that your frequently-used applications are ready for action as soon as you switch to them. But as so-called garbage collection is not available in iOS, a poorly written application might keep large portions of memory to itself and refuse to release it at iOS’s request, resulting in slower performance.

You can get around this by rebooting your device, but there’s a more elegant way to purge the memory taken up by apps without rebooting, as explained in this tutorial.

NOTE: I used the $0.99 System Monitor app by Tekton Technologies to capture the free vs. used memory on my iPhone 6s before and after purging the system RAM.

How to purge iOS device RAM without rebooting

Step 1: Unlock your iOS device and go to the Home screen.

Step 2: Now press and hold the Power button until the Slide to Power Off slider appears at the top of the screen.

Step 3: Do not drag your finger across that slider. Instead, press and hold the Home button for a few seconds until the Home screen re-appears.

Doing so resprings your iOS device and cleans out the system memory taken up by background processes that haven’t been active in a while. As evidenced on the screenshot below, this should help you regain the RAM.

System Monitor for iOS iPhone screenshot 002

More on purging RAM

You shall notice that this trick won’t remove apps from the iOS task switcher. That’s because iOS’s task switcher shows the recently-used apps that aren’t open and are instead in an efficient standby mode to help you navigate and multitask.

You can also resort to this trickery if the foreground app stops responding or suddenly becomes terribly sluggish. Doing so while the app is actively running in the foreground will purge it from RAM.

This isn’t something you should be doing on a regular basis. Again, iOS aggressively manages system memory so no matter the amount of RAM, that gauge in the System Monitor app is always going to show a nearly-full memory.

iOS always strives to keep as many apps you use in system RAM as possible, and this is by design so that switching between apps is as fast as possible.

That being said, owners of older iPhones and iPads with one gigabyte of RAM or less are probably going to benefit the most from this tutorial. As you know, the iPad Pro has four gigabytes of RAM and the iPhone 6s, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 all have two gigabytes of RAM, allowing for faster and smoother multitasking.

On a semi-related note, force-quitting apps on your iPhone by swiping them away in the iOS app switcher won’t help extend your iPhone’s battery at all. Quite the contrary, doing so will actually waste the battery.

I learned about this trick via French blog iPhon.fr.

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  • Jonathan

    This doesn’t cause a respring. It might free your RAM, but it doesn’t respring.

  • Diego

    I’m use this method, and I really aprove

  • Diego

    I use N Stats app, is show the free Ram, free HD space, and Upload/Download on my Notification Center.

  • Gabriel Anaya

    Did not know this method existed…

  • leart

    im using this app from years now, it’s doing his job perfectly,, give it a try form my opinion is the best

    • Rahimo

      Try this one! “Usage Widget” it shows everything on the Notification Center as today’s widget

      • leart

        dont have currently a ios 8 device 🙂

  • Diego

    But woooww, how you got more than 400 Ram free? This iPhone on the test is no jailbroken right?

    • Hi

      No, his 6s isnt

  • 5723alex .

    I use the free Battery Doctor to clear memory cache, logs, junk…..file

  • I noticed my iPhone battery was draining quickly so I decided to force quit all apps which delayed the battery drain and extended the battery life as well as sped up my phone some. Experience is the best teacher.

    • Kha

      Check out CocaTop, my friend. Soemtimes, there is some thing actually drains your battery in background, just kill it like the way you do with Task Manager on computer. This works for me 😉

  • basilis

    this “trick” is really old, been using it since ios 4, when I bought my first ios device. How come you discovered it now?

    • M2

      Because no one is as amazing as you.

      • basilis

        actually i read it on internet, i do not claim the rights. I guess you are new in ios, so you are excused.

      • M2

        I think you missed the point of the comment. That’s cool. You’re prob some young punk that still lives with his parents. You are excused.

      • basilis

        Lol dude. Go play lotto, you are amazing !

      • basilis

        Your deafening silence provesmy point…

  • Bugs Bunnay

    This trick shouln’t be needed on an OS that supposedly “just work.”

  • Favna

    Worth noting that this small trick can greatly help when you just enabled Eclipse / Nightmode tweaks since it closes all apps and closing apps then reopening them is required for the tweak to take effect.

  • Gary le

    This is when 2gb of ram will help you by less restarts of apps and safari open tabs!

  • Sandeep Roy

    A simple iPhone restart should do the same. This process of a ‘forced restart’ is not recommended by Apple & is similar to powering-down an operational computer by pulling the power cord. So this should be down in rarest of the rare cases. On closing Apps in the switcher all the time there is an excellent article on improving battery life by Scotty (appinstructor(com)/blog/2014/the-ultimate-guide-to-solving-ios-battery-drain)

  • Sandeep Roy

    A simple iPhone restart should do the same. This process of a ‘forced restart’ is not recommended by Apple & is similar to powering-down an operational computer by pulling the power cord. So this should be down in rarest of the rare cases. On NOT closing Apps in the switcher all the time there is an excellent article on improving battery life by Scotty (appinstructor(com)/blog/2014/the-ultimate-guide-to-solving-ios-battery-drain)

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    Another trick to quickly purge the memory in iOS is launching the stock Camera app and quit it. You’ll notice your RAM go from the low-100’s MB to mid-300’s MB of free memory. Try it.

  • al7oot

    You have to disable Siri

  • blu

    Will try this on my iPad 2. Ever since “upgrading” to iOS 9 it has really slowed. Wish I had stayed on iOS 7 with it.

  • Chris Wagers

    So I think there should be a little clarification. Because others and myself didn’t see a respring. Here’s the part that we were doing wrong. You need to keep holding the power button even after the the slide to power off appears. If you do that step it will respring. Hope this helps

    • M2

      Isn’t that a hard restart? Pushing power and home button for a few seconds forces a restart. I could be wrong.