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Oh My Tech!: Tricks you might not know your iPhone can do

Published May 31, 2012 10:58 pm

Apple devices let you close down background apps, create a flash drive.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Is there an iOS task bar so that you can shut off apps that are running in the background (and potentially draining your battery faster than needs to be)? — David Krummenacher, Salt Lake City.

There is a task bar on iPhones and iPads that tells you which apps may be running in the background, but not very many people know it exists.

That's because the "multitask bar" is normally hidden. Just double-tap the Home button, and the bar pops up on the bottom of the screen.

It shows the row of icons of the most recently used apps. If you want to instantly go back to one of the previous apps you had on before, just press the appropriate icon. (By the way, you can switch between apps without calling up the mutitask bar by just swiping the screen left or right with four fingers.)

Calling up the multitask bar is also a way to shut off apps that may be running in the background. Most don't actually run on the iPhone and iPad when you quit them. Instead, when you turn them off, they go into a "freeze" state where they aren't running any code or processes. However, there are some that do run, taking up memory and processing power, and, therefore battery power.

One example is Skype, the video conferencing software. If you close the app, it's still running in the background so it can notify you when you receive calls. Pandora, the great music radio app, also can play songs in the background so you can close it to go to other apps.

To close up all apps in the background, call up the multitask bar and then press and hold any of the icons. They will start to wiggle and show an X in the corner of each icon. Just press the X to close that app completely. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to shut all of them down with one press, unless you hack — or "jailbreak" — your iPhone and download a special app that can do that. Perhaps in a later version of the operating system.

I would like my iPhone to work like my flash drive — plug it in and see a folder structure. I can't exchange folders without the desktop/sync Apple application or emailing myself the file. It would be nice to be able to use my PC to drag/drop files into my iPhone/iPod touch. — Ken, Riverton.

The older "classic" versions of the iPod used to have a feature where you could devote some of the hard drive space in the MP3 player to a disk drive.

Unfortunately, iPhones and iPod Touches don't have that feature anymore. That's a shame because your iPhone has lots of storage space, especially if it's a 32-gigabyte model, and you should be able to use it to store extra files like a flash drive.

Well, you still can, even though Apple doesn't include that feature in its devices anymore.

Download software for your computer, such as iExplorer (which is free), and use it to connect your iPhone or iPod Touch to the computer as a flash drive.

Or you can purchase any of a number of apps, such as Phone Drive (99 cents) or Flash Drive Free, that allow you to transfer files back and forth between your computer and your iOS device wirelessly or by connecting them via a USB cable.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.