Featured - Enable or Disable Background Apps in Windows 11

In Windows 11, many apps don’t stop functioning as soon as you aren’t using them. We typically refer to these apps, which perform actions behind the scenes, as background apps. Today we’re going to show you how to stop apps from running in the background at both a global and system level. We’ll also explain why you might want to disable background apps – and when you should keep them.

Should you stop background apps or disable them?

Advertisement

There are various reasons to stop apps from running in the background, but a major one is the resources they use. Each background app naturally uses a portion of your system’s resources, albeit a tiny amount. Add the impact of lots of background apps together, however, and it could make a low-spec machine even more sluggish. In these cases, you may want to turn off background apps entirely.

As well as hardware resources, background apps typically use internet resources. This isn’t an issue for most people, but if you have a very limited data plan, background apps could help you blow through that data cap.

Of course, that data is also going somewhere – typically to a remote server owned by the supplier of the app. If the background data includes analytics, this might put your privacy at risk.

So why keep background apps enabled? Mostly, it comes down to necessity. Some apps, such as an email or messaging client, need to send data in the background so they can check if there’s any new activity. We can say the same for an app that tracks your location, for example, such as a “find my device” app.

But your calculator app? Video player? There’s little reason these apps need to access resources in the background other than to send telemetry data. These we can safely disable. 

How to Turn On or Off All Background Apps for the Current User via a REG file

If you want to stop background apps completely, you can use our provided reg file to disable all of them for the current user. Included is another registry file to undo the change so that you can toggle the global setting whenever you like.

  1. Download and extract the REG files

    Visit this link to download the registry zip file, then right-click the .zip in its download location and choose “Extract All…”.

    Windows 11 - Download the Zip - Extract All

  2. Browse to your desired extraction location and press “Extract”

    Windows 11 - Download the Zip - Extract All - Browse - Extract

  3. Enable or disable background apps in Windows 11

    To enable background apps for the current user, double-click the “Enable_Background-Apps_for_Current_User”.

    To turn off background apps in Windows 11, double-click “Disable_Background-Apps_for_Current_User”.

    Windows 11 - Zip - Extract All - Double Click on Enable

  4. Press “Run” on the security warning

    Windows 11 - Zip - Extract All - Double Click on Enable - Run

  5. Click “Yes” on the Registry Editor pop-up

    Windows 11 - Zip - Extract All - Double Click on Enable - Run - Yes

  6. Press “OK” to the success dialog

    Windows 11 - Zip - Extract All - Double Click on Enable - Run - Yes - Accept

How to Enable or Disable Individual Background Apps in App Settings

As we mentioned earlier, you can also turn off background apps on an individual basis. This is useful, as it allows you to allow the activity only for the apps that need it. Here’s one way to do it: the app settings menu.

  1. Press Start and click the settings icon in your pinned apps

    If you don’t have settings pinned, you can instead press “Windows + I”.

    Windows 11 - Open Settings

  2. Click “Apps” in the sidebar, then “Apps & features” in the main pane

    Windows 11 - Settings - Apps - Apps & Features

  3. Press the three dots next to app you want to modify and select “Advanced options”

    Windows 11 - Settings - Apps - Apps & Features - Choose The App - Open Advanced Options

  4. Under the “Let this app run in the background” heading, choose the setting you’d like

    You’ll have three options: Always, Never, and Power optimized. The first two are self-explanatory. The third, “Power optimized”, will keep the app running in the background most of the time, but prevent background activity when power saving mode kicks in.

    Windows 11 - Settings - Apps - Apps & Features - Choose The App - Open Advanced Options - Let Run in Background - Select the Option

How to Allow or Stop Apps from Running in the Background via Power Settings

You can additionally manage Windows 11 background apps via your power settings. This has the advantage of allowing you to check how much battery an app uses before you disable its background usage.

  1. Press Start and click the settings icon in your pinned apps

    Alternatively, you can press “Windows + I”.

    Windows 11 - Open Settings

  2. Click “System” in the sidebar, then “Power & battery” in the main pane

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Power & Battery

  3. Press the “Battery usage” dropdown

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Power & Battery - Battery Usage

  4. Press the three dots next to your app and select “Manage background activity”

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Power & Battery - Battery Usage - Choose App - Manage Background Activity

  5. Turn the background app off or on via the “let this app run in background” dropdown

    You’ll have three options: Always, Never, and Power optimized. The first two are self-explanatory. The third, “Power optimized”, will keep the app running in the background most of the time, but prevent background activity when power saving mode kicks in.

    Windows 11 - Settings - System - Power & Battery - Battery Usage - Choose App - Manage Background Activity - Let Run in Background - Select an Option

How to Enable or Disable Background Apps for All Users via Local Group Policy Editor

If you want to affect more than just the current user, you’ll want to use the local group policy editor (gpedit). Unfortunately, gpedit.msc is only available on Windows 10 Pro or higher Windows 11 versions. We have you covered, however, with a tutorial on how to get a third-party gpedit on Windows 11 Home.

  1. Press the search icon, type “gpedit.msc”, and click the top result

    If you’re using PolicyPlus, you should naturally search for that instead.

    Windows 11 - Open Gpedit.msc

  2. Open the App Privacy Group Policy folder and double-click “Let windows apps run in the background”

    You’ll find the App Privacy folder at Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\App Privacy.

    Windows 11 - App Privacy - Gpedit.msc - Open Let App Run in Background

  3. How to let users choose their own background app settings

    If you want users to be able to turn background apps on or off via the methods above, set the policy to “Not Configured”. This will follow the settings of the individual user rather than the group policy. Press “OK” to apply the changes.

    Windows 11 - App Privacy - Gpedit.msc - Let App Run in Background - Not Configured - Accept

  4. How to Always Enable Background Apps for All Users

    If you want to force background activity for all the apps that ask for it, you can instead tick “Enabled” choose “Force Allow” in the “Default for all apps” dropdown below, and press “OK”.

    This may be useful if you don’t want your users to turn off their activity and miss important emails or messages.

    Windows 11 - App Privacy - Gpedit.msc - Let App Run in Background - Enabled - Force Allow - Accept

  5. How to stop apps from running in the background for all users

    To turn off background apps, don’t choose the disabled option. Instead, tick “Enabled” choose “Force Deny” in the “Default for all apps” dropdown below, and press “OK”.

    Windows 11 - App Privacy - Gpedit.msc - Let App Run in Background - Enabled - Force Deny - Accept

How to Turn off Background Apps in Windows 10

If you’re still on Windows 10, you’ll notice that the process to stop apps from running in the background isn’t the same. If you’re struggling, you can check our dedicated Windows 10 tutorial on the matter instead.

How to Kill a Specific Background Process

If it’s not a background app in general you’re having trouble with but rather one of its specific processes, you can kill it via a variety of methods. Just follow our guide on how to identify and kill any process

Advertisement