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Unravelling the Mystery Behind Greyed Out Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh is a feature on Apple devices that allows apps to update their content in the background while you are not actively using them. This means that when you open an app, it will be up-to-date with all the latest information and content. However, sometimes this feature can become grayed out and unavailable for use. This can happen due to a variety of reasons including low battery life, poor internet connection, or restrictions set by your device settings. If Background App Refresh is greyed out on your device then it could mean that one of these issues is preventing its use. It’s important to understand why this happens so you can make sure your apps stay up-to-date and functioning properly.


If you’re an iPhone user, you may have noticed that the Background App Refresh option in your device settings is greyed out and unavailable. This can be a frustrating issue for many users who rely on this feature to keep their apps up-to-date and running smoothly. In this blog post, we’ll explain why Background App Refresh has been disabled and how you can re-enable it if needed. Read on to find out more!

What Is Background App Refresh?

Background App Refresh (BAR) is a feature of iOS that allows apps to update even when they are not running in the foreground. It works by allowing applications to periodically check for new content or send notifications while in the background – without constantly draining your battery or using too much data. With BAR enabled, all of your apps will stay updated with the latest information without having to manually open them each time.

Why Is My Background App Refresh Greyed Out?

There are several reasons why this setting might be disabled on your device – either through intentional disabling or due to system errors. One possibility could be that you’ve recently installed an iOS update which automatically disables some features like BAR until certain prerequisites are met (such as connecting to Wi-Fi). Other possibilities include restrictions set by parental controls, low memory space, compatibility issues with other services (like iCloud), or outdated software versions in use on your phone.

Limitations of using Background App Refresh

Using Background App Refresh in mobile applications, particularly on iOS and Android platforms, allows apps to update their content in the background, ensuring that the latest information is available to users as soon as they open the app. However, this feature comes with several limitations and challenges:

  1. Battery Life Impact: One of the most significant limitations of using Background App Refresh is its potential impact on device battery life. When apps refresh their content in the background, they consume power, which can lead to faster battery drain, especially if multiple apps are set to refresh frequently.
  2. Data Usage: Background App Refresh can also lead to increased data usage. This can be a concern for users with limited data plans or those in areas with poor connectivity, as it might lead to unexpected data charges or degraded app performance due to network constraints.
  3. Resource Management: Mobile devices have limited resources in terms of processing power and memory. Background activities can consume valuable system resources, potentially leading to decreased performance for other apps or critical system functions.
  4. User Control and Transparency: While users can generally control Background App Refresh settings, they might not always be aware of which apps are refreshing in the background and how often. This lack of transparency can lead to frustration, especially if it results in unwanted data usage or battery drain.
  5. App Behavior Consistency: The behavior of Background App Refresh can vary depending on the device’s operating system, version, and specific settings enforced by the user or system conditions like low power mode. This inconsistency can make it challenging for developers to ensure a uniform app experience across all devices.
  6. Limitations Imposed by Operating Systems: Both iOS and Android have their mechanisms to regulate background activities to preserve system performance and battery life. These mechanisms can restrict how often and under what conditions an app can refresh in the background, limiting the effectiveness of this feature.
  7. Complexity in Implementation: Implementing Background App Refresh in a way that is efficient, effective, and respectful of user resources can be complex. Developers need to carefully manage background tasks to avoid excessive resource consumption, which can add significant complexity to app development.
  8. Privacy Concerns: There can be privacy implications if sensitive information is fetched or updated in the background without explicit user awareness or consent, leading to potential security risks.
  9. Dependence on External Factors: The effectiveness of Background App Refresh can be influenced by external factors like network availability, server response times, and API rate limits, over which developers have limited control.

Addressing these limitations requires a careful balance between ensuring up-to-date content and respecting device resources and user preferences. Developers must consider these factors when implementing Background App Refresh to minimize negative impacts on user experience.

How Can I Re-Enable My Background Apps Refreshing?

If you need access back into the Settings app so that you can re-enable BAR then there are a few steps required depending upon what’s causing it initially:

Check Your Restrictions – If Parental Controls have been activated then these will override any changes made within Settings so make sure this isn’t restricting access before continuing further down the list below;

Update Software Versions – Ensure all software updates have been applied as these often contain bug fixes which could resolve any conflicts preventing access;

Connect To Wi-Fi – As mentioned earlier sometimes after installing major system updates there will be certain requirements placed before full functionality returns;

Clear Memory Space – Low storage capacity can cause problems accessing various functions including background app refreshing so try freeing up some space here first;

Reset All Settings – There’s also an option under General > Reset where resetting all settings should restore most preferences back including those related specifically,

How to manage background app refresh on iPhone

Managing Background App Refresh on an iPhone allows users to control which apps can update their content in the background, potentially improving battery life and reducing data usage. Here’s how users can effectively manage this feature:

Accessing Background App Refresh Settings

  1. Open Settings: Start by opening the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Navigate to General: Scroll down and tap on “General” to access general system settings.
  3. Background App Refresh: Inside the General settings, look for and tap on “Background App Refresh.” This section allows you to control how apps refresh their content in the background.

Adjusting Settings

Within the Background App Refresh settings, you have several options:

  • Off: Disables Background App Refresh entirely for all apps. Choose this to maximize battery life and minimize data usage, but at the cost of apps not being updated in the background.
  • Wi-Fi: Allows apps to refresh their content only when connected to Wi-Fi, reducing cellular data usage.
  • Wi-Fi & Cellular Data: Permits apps to refresh their content using either Wi-Fi or cellular data, offering the most up-to-date information at the potential cost of increased data usage and battery consumption.

Customizing for Individual Apps

  • Individual Controls: Below the global settings, there’s a list of apps that support Background App Refresh. You can individually toggle this setting on or off for each app based on your preferences and needs.

Best Practices for Management

  • Prioritize Essential Apps: Enable Background App Refresh only for apps where up-to-date content is crucial, such as messaging or email apps.
  • Consider Usage Patterns: If you rarely use an app or don’t need it to have the latest information as soon as you open it, consider turning off Background App Refresh for that app.
  • Monitor Impact: Pay attention to your device’s battery life and data usage after adjusting these settings. If you notice significant impacts, reevaluate which apps need this feature enabled.

Additional Tips

  • Battery Saver Mode: Be aware that enabling Low Power Mode on your iPhone will temporarily disable Background App Refresh until the mode is turned off.
  • Update Regularly: Ensure your iOS is up-to-date, as Apple occasionally updates how background activities are managed to optimize performance and battery life.

By customizing Background App Refresh settings, users can strike a balance between keeping their apps up-to-date and maintaining optimal device performance.


In conclusion, the reasons why Background App Refresh is greyed out on your device can vary. It could be due to a software update, low battery life, or an issue with a specific app. If you are unable to access this feature in the iOS Settings menu, then it may be worth checking for any available updates or restarting your device. Additionally, if you notice that one particular app has been causing issues with Background App Refresh being greyed out then try uninstalling and reinstalling it. If none of these solutions work then contacting Apple Support might help resolve the issue further.

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