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I noticed that I can press the square button on the bottom right to show all background apps, and then swipe from left to right with my finger to stop them manually.

But sometimes, I find that I have twenty or more apps in the background, so I want to stop them all at once.

I did a simple search on Google, but didn't find an answer.

Is it possible to do that?

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  • 3
    This bothers me to no end because of the UX issue - with 20+ apps to scroll through, it is very difficult to find the one you want. I don't care if memory management is efficient - having 20+ apps (made worse by each chrome tab showing up) makes navigating awful. – Tom Carchrae Jan 12 '15 at 18:11
  • am kill-all command can do it, though it requires root access. – Firelord Apr 29 '16 at 17:44
41

As far as I know : no you can't.

TL;DR :

Closing all background apps is a bad practice. You should close apps that you don't use often or apps you specifically want to close for X reason. IMO, the only good reason to close all recent apps is that you feel like there are too many of them and you can't find an app any more because of the mess it creates.

--

The recent apps feature in Lollipop appears to behave differently from previous versions. First of all, as you noticed, the button to clear all recent apps is gone. Moreover, the recent apps persist through reboot (read on Android Police : The Recent Apps List Now Persists Through Reboot).

Now, you still can clear them by swiping all the cards, which I agree is tedious. But as the top comment on the AP post I quoted above explains :

Clearing out all of the apps in recents just puts more work on CPU and thus your battery because you're essentially having to start from scratch the next time you load it. If something stays in your recents list and is in RAM, it loads instantly with virtually no battery or processing penalty minus refreshing the content via the network connection.

Basically, all the Android users (including me a while ago) who frequently clear their recent apps, use task killers, etc. are using their Android device the wrong way.

You can read more about Why you shouldn't use a task killer on Android (a post by cybervibin on XDA), which is roughly the same as killing the apps yourself. In short, unused RAM is useless RAM. If a large amount of RAM is required by an app, the system will stop recent apps by itself to provide the newly launched app the needed resources. No need to stop them yourself, it's the OS's job.

I also recommend the read of this question on Android Enthusiasts about What happens when you swipe an app out of the recent apps list.

--

To conclude, to this day and as far as I know, you can't clear your recent apps all at once on Android Lollipop 5.0. But you shouldn't have to do that anyway, which is surely why Google's teams removed the button.

  • 1
    I don't know if this is a CyanogenMod 12 only option, but I have a little button to clear them all. – Ryan Conrad Dec 28 '14 at 17:27
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    @RyanConrad it's CM option only. At least I can confirm that there is no option on stock Android Lollipop. Probably you could expand that as alternative answer? :) – Andrew T. Dec 29 '14 at 1:16
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    @MathieuMaree Are there other optimisations that I'm not aware of in Lollipop? I understand that Windows Metro apps will tombstone (freeze when not focused, and only with permission, run in the background); however, Android has no such permission system. It seems that apps in Android are able to run in the background, taking up CPU cycles. Closing the background app (recents) stops these programs from using CPU (GPS, etc.), hence helps with battery life. In the long run it seems that closing recents can be better for battery life than having to restart apps. Can you comment? – Mark Lopez Dec 29 '14 at 7:32
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    I'm looking for this ability, not for the purpose of clearing memory, but because the recent apps/overview is pretty useless when it has over 10 cards in it (I currently have ~40), and I can only actually view about 3.5 cards at a time. – wisbucky Jan 5 '15 at 15:58
  • 1
    Also, it makes me uneasy to share the device because it has weeks of history snapshots. It shows emails, google searches, etc from weeks ago. – wisbucky Jan 5 '15 at 16:03
5

It seems that this CyanogenMod 12 only option, as Andrew T. states he does not have this option in stock Android Lollipop, but I have a little button to clear them all.

(Click image to enlarge)

IMG: clear all

It also works with Lollipop 5.0.2 on HTC One M7 with Sense 6

  1. By double-tapping Home button
  2. Tap the 3 dots on upper right corner
  3. Go to Settings and change from Card View to Grid View

When you double tap the Home button again you will now see an 'X' button to close all recent apps that are open.

  • With some chance, a Xposed module that adds the clear all button might be available in the near future. – Léo Lam Feb 19 '15 at 15:29
  • Maybe once Xposed is somewhat stable and works on more than ARMv7+ but I would not suggest Xposed to anyone on Android 5, really, at this one – Ryan Conrad Feb 19 '15 at 16:49
  • Yeah, it's still a work in progress in my opinion. Did you have issues with it? It seems to work mostly fine on my device, although a lot of modules are still incompatible. – Léo Lam Feb 19 '15 at 16:51
  • Not with Xposed itself. But my device is an ARMv7, Not all devices are. The modules not being compatible is a big issue. And it's not just your opinion, it is a work in progress. The developer even said it is in ALPHA at the moment. – Ryan Conrad Feb 19 '15 at 16:55
4

This answer was suggested as an anonymous edit:

In the task manager settings, change the view from "cards" to "grid". The close all button remains at the top, as it used to.

  • The simple solution! – Timm Jul 20 '15 at 23:21

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