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How to stop apps from running in the background on Windows 10

On Windows 10, many apps you download from the Microsoft Store will continue to run in the background to take advantage of additional features, such as the ability to download data, update Live Tiles, and show notifications.

Although these features can be useful in a number of scenarios, apps running in the background (even when you didn't start them) can drain battery, waste bandwidth and system resources. Luckily, if keeping apps updated isn't something important for you, Windows 10 ships with settings to control which apps are allowed to operate in the background.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to prevent apps from running in the background.

How to stop background apps using Privacy settings

To disable apps from running in the background wasting system resources, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Privacy.
  3. Click on Background apps.
  4. Under the "Choose which apps can run in the background" section, turn off the toggle switch for the apps you want to restrict.

Alternatively, under the "Background Apps" section, you can turn off the Let apps in the background toggle switch to prevent any app from running in the background toggle switch.

Once you've completed the steps, you can still use the apps normally, but when you close them, all the processes will be terminated until you launch the app again.

How to stop background apps using System settings

Alternatively, on laptops and tablets, it's also possible to prevent apps from running in the background enabling the Battery Saver mode.

While the feature will enable automatically as the battery life drops below 20 percent, you can enable the mode manually at any time using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Battery.
  4. Under the "Battery saver" section, turn off the Battery saver status until next charge toggle switch.Quick Tip: It's also possible to turn on Battery saver by clicking the battery icon in the bottom-right corner of the taskbar and clicking the Battery saver button.

After completing the steps, none of your apps will be allowed to run in the background while the feature is enabled.

These instructions only apply for apps you acquired from the Microsoft store. If you're looking to stop classic applications from using background resources, you need to close the program manually and make sure to stop the program from running at startup.

Update January 28, 2019: This guide has been revised to make sure it's current with the latest version of Windows 10.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

10 Comments
  • I shouldn't have to choose.  The system should handle that automatically.
  • It does! But this gives whoever needs it, more options! There are billions of users and cases, options are the best solution for each of them!
  • Like applications that have no utility, or do not work on a PC, or applications that have no notification? 
  • I think Windows 10 apps are slowing a lot nowdays all PC's running this operating system.
  • Very useful article!  Thank you!
  • Why calculator, view 3D, Paint 3D, ect....would need to run in background?
  • not a lot to say other then no idea why I thought putting windows 10 in my Toughbook never seems to work for long,.
  • Good article, but I wonder how many people know about this? i do not use any MS apps, but I still make sure the let apps run in the background switch is turned to the off position.
  • These Settings only work for Store apps. One more reason to get all your apps from the Store, so you can better control what they're allowed to do.
  • Ironically, these settings are only available for apps through the Microsoft Store, but these are never the apps burning up my computer's CPU and batter -- that's still always the old Win32 apps. I eagerly look forward to when I don't need to run any of those, but alas, it is still necessary -- Audacity, QuickBooks, CorelDraw/Adobe CS, desktop version of OneNote, command line utilities for audio file management like SoX and ffmpeg, my scanner software, all non-Edge browsers, and all non-MS virus/anti-malware programs (of course, for these last two, that could also be a reason to stick with the MS versions).