How to disable cellular data for specific iPhone apps

disable cellular data for specific apps

Cellular data is a great thing; it lets you access data from the internet in your favorite apps even when you’re not in range of a Wi-Fi network.

Unfortunately, many carriers impose caps on your data. For this reason, iOS includes a feature that lets you limit what apps are allowed to access the internet using cellular data. This is particularly useful for limiting those data-hungry apps from causing you unwanted cellular bill overages each month.

In this tutorial, we’ll be showing you how you can disable cellular data for specific apps on your iPhone or iPad.

Prevent specific apps from using cellular data

Apps that access the internet will use your cellular data whenever you’re not in range of Wi-Fi; unless, of course, you manually specify that they do not. They’ll use any signal they have available – LTE, 4G HSPA+, 3G, Edge, or even GPRS.

Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Mail, and more are always checking for push notifications, and these apps are going to be your biggest data hogs in the background. Larger tasks like iCloud backups are already disabled on cellular networks by Apple for the same reason.

But backgrounded apps are not the only ones to have to worry about. When you’re connected to a cellular network, any app that you open in the foreground that wants to access the internet is also going to eat into your monthly share of data.

Fortunately, you can control what apps are the most important to you to share your cellular data with. To configure what apps are allowed to use your cellular data network to check for information, you can:

1) Launch the Settings app on your iOS device.

2) Go to the Cellular preferences pane, scroll down slightly and you’ll begin seeing a list of apps with toggle switches:

turn on or off cellular data for specific apps

3) Turn individual apps on or off depending on whether or not you want them to be able to use your cellular data network.

Every app that you see with a green switch is being allowed by iOS to use your cellular data network when you’re connected to one and it requests to use the internet. Apps that are turned off are not allowed to use cellular data to refresh their content, whether they’re running in the background, or they’re open in the foreground.

For example, if we turn cellular data off for Facebook, we’ll get the following message when we’re connected to a cellular network and we’ll be unable to access Facebook until we are connected to a Wi-Fi network:

celluar data disabled for an app error message

As is implied by the alert, the effect is fully reversible. If you decide you do want to use Facebook on your cellular network, you can just turn it back on again.

Wrapping up

Yes, limiting cellular data to certain apps will reduce their effectiveness when you’re not at home or in range of familiar Wi-Fi networks, but it can help you in a pinch if you’ve got a small capped data plan and need to conserve data.

Not only will apps use data while they’re open, but simply checking for notifications over and over, and having Background App Refresh enabled for them can cause additional drag on your data.

Do you have a capped data plan with your carrier? Share in the comments below!