My iPhone Apps Won’t Open! Here’s The Real Fix.

One of two things is happening when you tap to open an iPhone app: Nothing happens at all, or the app beings to load the opening screen, but immediately closes. Either way, you’re left staring at an iPhone full of apps that won’t open, and that’s no good. In this article, I’ll explain why your iPhone apps won’t open and how to fix the problem for good.

Why Won’t My iPhone Apps Open?

Your iPhone apps won’t open because your iPhone has a software problem. When an app crashes, it usually doesn’t take the whole iPhone with it. Instead, you end up back on the Home screen, and the app terminates in the background. Most of the time, that’s enough to fix a software bug – but not always.

Apps don’t exist in a vacuum, either. In my experience, iPhone apps usually won’t open because of a problem with the iPhone operating system (iOS), not a problem with the app itself.

How To Fix iPhone Apps That Won’t Open

I’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of troubleshooting an app that won’t open. We’ll start simple and work our way toward the more involved fixes, if and when they become necessary. You can do this. Let’s get started!

1. Turn Your iPhone Off And Back On

It’s simple, but turning your iPhone off and back on can resolve hidden software issues that may be preventing your apps from opening correctly. When you turn off your iPhone, the operating system shuts down all the little background programs that help your iPhone to run. When you turn it back on, they all start fresh, and sometimes that’s enough to fix a software glitch that had been preventing your apps from opening.

To turn your iPhone off, press and hold the power button on your iPhone until ‘slide to power off’ appears on the screen. Slide the icon across the screen with your finger, and wait for your iPhone to shut off. It’s normal for the process to take up to 30 seconds. To turn your iPhone back on, press and hold the power button until the Apple logo appears on the screen, and then let go.

2. Check For Updates In The App Store

One of the main reasons app developers release updates is to fix software bugs that can cause problems like this one. Instead of combing through the list to find the problem app, I believe your best bet is simply to update all your apps at once.

To update your apps, open the App Store and tap on the Account icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Scroll down to the Updates section and tap Update All to update every app simultaneously.

check for updates to apps

3. Delete The App And Reinstall It

The idea that you should delete the app from your iPhone and redownload it from the App Store is the first thing most technicians will instruct you to do. It’s the “unplug it and plug it back in” school of thought, and a lot of the time it works.

I think it’s a good place to start too, but I don’t want to get your hopes up. Ask yourself, “Are all of my apps not opening, or is it a problem with just one app?”

  • If only one of your apps won’t open, there’s a good chance that deleting the app from your iPhone and reinstalling it from the App Store will fix the problem.
  • If many of your apps won’t open, I don’t recommend you delete and reinstall all of them, because it’s probably a waste of time. Instead, we’ll have to address the underlying cause, which is the iPhone’s operating system (iOS).

4. Is The App Ancient? When Was The Last Time It Was Updated?

There are over 1.5 million apps in the App Store, and not all of them are kept up-to-date. The software code that runs iPhone apps changes every time Apple releases a new version of iOS. Usually the changes aren’t too drastic, but if an app hasn’t been updated in years, there’s a good chance it’s incompatible with your version of iOS.

If you recently upgraded to a new version of iOS, especially if it was a major upgrade, like going from iOS 13 to iOS 14 (not 14.2 to 14.2.1, for example), this may explain why your app won’t open.

To find out when an app was last updated, open the App Store on your iPhone. Search for the app and tap Version History to see when the app’s update history.

check version history for iphone app

Another way to test for this is to ask a friend with the same model iPhone and iOS version to download and open the app. If the app works on their iPhone, we know there’s a software problem with yours. If the app doesn’t open on their iPhone, there’s a problem with the app itself.

Unfortunately, if an app is too old to run on a newer version of iOS, there’s nothing you can do to make it work. Your best bet is to contact the app developer and ask if they’re planning to release an updated version. If I were in their position, I’d be grateful someone let me know about the problem.

5. Reset All Settings

You’ll find this reset by going to Settings -> General -> Transfer Or Reset iPhone -> Reset -> Reset All Settings, and it’s not something I recommend doing unless it’s absolutely necessary. Reset All Settings doesn’t erase any of your personal data from your iPhone, but like the name suggests, it does reset all of your settings back to factory defaults. If you’ve taken the time to optimize your settings to get better battery life, for example, you’ll have to do it all over again.

reset all settings ios 15

I don’t believe there’s a magic bullet for iPhone problems, but if I had to choose, Reset All Settings is about as close it gets. It’s worth a shot — I’ve seen Reset All Settings fix strange software problems before, and it’s not as time-consuming as the next step in the process, which is to back up and restore your iPhone.

6. Back Up Your iPhone, And Restore

If you’ve tried resetting the settings on your iPhone, uninstalled and reinstalled the app, and you’re convinced the app isn’t too old to run on your version if iOS, it’s time to break out the big guns. We’re going to back up your iPhone to iCloud, or Finder, iTunes, restore your iPhone using iTunes or Finder, and then restore your personal data from your backup.

Before you back up your iPhone, I recommend that you uninstall the problem app from your iPhone, if it’s only one app that won’t open. If it’s more than one app, don’t worry about uninstalling all of them — just back it up and walk through the process. 

The ideal way to do this is to back up your iPhone to iCloud (if you’re out of space, my article about why you should never pay for iCloud storage will help you free some up), DFU restore your iPhone using iTunes or Finder, and restore from your iCloud backup.

Use iCloud To Back Up Your iPhone, If You Can

I strongly recommend using iCloud to back up and restore your iPhone when your apps won’t open.

When you back up your iPhone to iTunes or Finder, it makes an image of all your apps and data. When you restore from the backup, the whole image gets put back on your iPhone, and there’s a chance the problem will come right back.

iCloud backups only save your personal data “in the cloud”, not the entire app. When you restore from an iCloud backup, your iPhone downloads your personal data from iCloud and your apps fresh from the App Store, so there’s a smaller chance the problem will return.

Apps Are Opening Again: Wrapping It Up

When an iPhone app won’t open, it’s a problem that can take 30 seconds, 30 minutes, or longer to solve. For your sake, I hope the fix was simple. I’d like to hear from you about your experience with apps that won’t open, and about how far you had to go to fix your iPhone.

Thanks for reading, and remember to pay it forward,
David P.

About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

Subscribe
Notify of
102 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Glenn
4 days ago

I have a 4th generation iPad Air running iPadOS 14.8. There is one app that keeps crashing yet it seems to work fine on my iPhone 7. I have tried all of your suggestions other than the reset but nothing seems to work. Ideas? I’m a little hesitant to try resetting as it sounds rather complicated to try to restore everything.

Heidi Friend
2 months ago

Except my nine of my apps including settings won’t open,only safari will open

Editor
Colin Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  Heidi Friend

Hi Heidi, Since even native apps like the Settings app aren’t opening for you, it’s most likely that your iPhone is experiencing a software malfunction or a hardware issue. First, I’d recommend restarting your iPhone. If that doesn’t work, and you still can’t open your Settings app, I’d suggest saving a backup of your iPhone to your computer. Depending on what kind of computer you have, there are a few ways you can do that. If you have a Mac running Catalina 10.15 or newer, you can backup your iPhone with Finder. Here’s a link to our article about how… Read more »

dea
2 months ago

only one of my apps cannot be opened. last night my phone ran out of storage, i tried to clear my gallery but nothing helps. i pressed delete, the pictures reappeared again for number of times. i left my gallery and decided to uninstall this one app. then my phone went jammed and blacked out. now, that app is still there on my home screen but it is not functioning (kinda half alive), the icon is there but i cannot open it. i tried to open it through app store, but i cant. i ask siri to open, and siri… Read more »

Editor
Colin Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  dea

Hi Dea, that sounds extremely frustrating! Given that you’ve tried all these troubleshooting fixes already, my guess is that the app itself is experiencing a software malfunction. I would recommend reaching out to the app’s developer directly to let them know about the problem. They might be able to repair the bug from their end!

Adrian
3 months ago

nothing will turn on the only things i can open are the tabs/app that are already on

Editor
Colin Boyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Adrian

Hi Adrian, that sounds like it could be a software bug. Have you updated your iPhone to the most recent version of iOS? This might be an issue that Apple’s developers are already aware of, in which case they may have fixed it in a recent software update.

Open Settings > General > Software Update to check if there’s an available update. If you see that there is a new software update available, tap Download and Install to access it!

Kayla
3 months ago

I recently downloaded a few apps and they start up but they crash always and i cant use them.

Editor
Colin Boyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Kayla

Sometimes, apps designed by smaller developers can crash unexpectedly. First, I’d recommend making sure that the apps you’re trying to use are running the latest software update. Open the App Store, tap on your account icon in the top-right corner, then scroll down until you see app you’re trying to use. If you see that there’s an update available for this app, install it and see if the app starts working from there. On a similar note, I’d also recommend making sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS. To check if this is the case, open Settings… Read more »

Norma
5 months ago

Can’t get apps to open , only half words there, I did back up , didn’t help, I’ve turned off phone for hours turned back on , still nothing

Pat
5 months ago

Hi. Can’t get any apps to open and can’t turn phone off. What should I do?

JAS
5 months ago
Reply to  Pat

the same thing is happening to me right now. Can anyone help?

Dejan
5 months ago
Reply to  JAS

same here…

Kerry
5 months ago
Reply to  JAS

same thing- what can I do? Did yours get fixed?

human
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry

hi! you can do a restart by clicking volume up, volume down and then holding power.
it worked for me.

Pam
5 months ago

Thank you for your very helpful “Words” of wisdom. My favorite pastime of Words stopped working. Your advice of deleting the app and reinstalling worked perfectly.

Liam Shotwell
5 months ago
Reply to  Pam

Glad that our “Words” were able to help with your Words! ?

Amanda McCabe
7 months ago

Thank you very much. I have worked through your information and my app is now back up and running. Thanks again.

Brenda
7 months ago

My apps are not responding, nor am I able to turn the device off and back on to reset

Bill
8 months ago

Thanks David!. most of my apps would not work, but your suggestion #2 worked (going to app store and hitting update all)
Your the best

Jase
9 months ago

Mate you are legend

Had issues with 2 apps not working and followed your steps and reset settings fixed my I phone

Thank you for your support

Mark
9 months ago

I”m having an issue with my sons iPad. We gave him an iPad Air 2 awhile back and apps kept getting stuck loading. We now bought him the new iPad 8th generation and restored it from the Air 2 and this iPad is doing the same thing. I tried resetting all setting and that didn’t work. Not sure if I have to wipe it clean and start fresh and not even restore? I bought this new ipad so I wouldn’t have to keep resetting it every day.

bob
10 months ago

I need help!! BAD! my xr crashed pr something. I cant open any apps, so Icant go to settigns, power button wont work so I cant reset, or turn my phone off. HELP I need this thing…its like my everythong lol

ivan smith
8 months ago
Reply to  bob

the same thing is happening to me

TVD
11 months ago

I don’t know what happened but I decided to go on my phone and I noticed that NONE of my apps are letting me go in, like any app, not even settings. And I’ve tried resetting my phone and it wont work either. PLEASE HELP!

Tequila
10 months ago
Reply to  TVD

My phone is doing the same thing. I can’t even power my phone off or use the side button to lock it. I’m with you PLEASE HELP!

mel
10 months ago
Reply to  Tequila

same i dont know what to do

annoyed
10 months ago
Reply to  Tequila

ugh im in the same situation i can’t turn it off or reset it or anything. I tired plugging it into my computer to restore or reset it or anything at all but i need to turn off find my iphone to even do that and i can get my settings app to open.

Mollie
10 months ago
Reply to  Tequila

Oml same sm1 help

Lord
6 months ago
Reply to  Tequila

I was having same issues. I let my phone die and after I charged the phone I was able to access all the apps.

Raeanne
10 months ago
Reply to  TVD

same with me i cant even shut it off’\

David Johnstone
10 months ago
Reply to  Raeanne

me too!

pikachu
11 months ago

my instagram app won’t open. ive tried to delete and reinstall so many times and i restart my phone too it still wont open! please help

sav
11 months ago
Reply to  pikachu

i’m dealing with the same exact problem right now.

Blancs
11 months ago
Reply to  pikachu

Hii, Literally the same is happening with me, whatsapp, facebook, twitter, whatsapp(sometimes only),
and more won´t open
and when i try the reset the settings, i click it but it looks like it just gets frozen there and i need to close the page

Blancs
11 months ago
Reply to  pikachu

Hii, Literally the same is happening with me, whatsapp, facebook, twitter, whatsapp(sometimes only),
and more won´t open
and when i try the reset the settings, i click it but it looks like it just gets frozen there

kys
8 months ago
Reply to  pikachu

same lmfao

Kay
11 months ago

My apps crashed so I turned off my phone to restart. But screen won’t turn on and had Apple logo on constantly and flashed for 3seconds and logo appear and won’t turn on. After 10 mins tunes finally my phone but I can’t open anything and it seems it deleted all my photos and contacts details basically all,of my things even what’s all. I can’t access my phone. So I turn it off again thought it might restart but nope! Again my phone won’t turn on and screen just stuck with logo on it. What is happening ! I have… Read more »

Jillisa
11 months ago

I just had this problem where I could not open any apps and couldn’t turn my phone off. I just fixed it by force restarting: click volume up then click volume down then HOLD lock button and the slide power off will appear. These are instructions for the iPhone 8 and up, if you have an older model you can see the instructions here https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201412

Beth
11 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

Thank you so much, I just had the exact same problem and this is the only thing that worked!

Marissa
10 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

I have an 8, but no matter what I’m unable to force restart, its all three buttons?

Starkeisha
9 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

THANK YOU IT WORKED

Colette
9 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

Thank you! SO HELPFUL…..It worked for me!

Daniel
6 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

Thank you so much. My father in law was having the same issue with his phone and was sure what he was going to do. I tried everything and could not fix it. I appreciate your help.

Maidee
11 months ago

this is what happened to my apps after deleting it last night. And when I tried to download it again, the app can’t open ☹️

194BF260-721E-48FA-8838-49F5B109309A.png
Someone
11 months ago
Reply to  Maidee

Did u solve the solution? Cause mine is the same

Breana
11 months ago

Hi. I’m having some major issues. I can’t turn off my phone, none of my apps open, i can’t open my settings, my phone won’t let me “trust” my computer no matter how many times I press the “trust” button it says “denied” so i can’t back it up, my apps won’t delete to free up storage space, and I can’t upgrade my phone to the recent bug fix. My phone freezes up and it won’t do a hard reset. It’s literally not functional and I don’t know what to do about it.

sonya
11 months ago
Reply to  Breana

did you find out how to fix this? i am having the same problem.

Catherine
11 months ago
Reply to  sonya

I have the same problem at this moment. I can turn my phone on but once its in the home page I literally cant open anything or even restart my phone because the button doesnt work. Is it fixed?

izzyyyy
11 months ago
Reply to  sonya

im having the same problem right now. has it worked for u??

jianna
11 months ago
Reply to  sonya

me too

heleana
11 months ago
Reply to  Breana

I am having the same the same issue. I just got the newest update and my phone is doing this.

Ashley Macias
11 months ago
Reply to  heleana

Same with me, I don’t understand what’s going.

Bryan @brysite
11 months ago
Reply to  Ashley Macias

Let your phone die

Bryan @brysite
11 months ago
Reply to  Ashley Macias

Let your phone die.

Chlo
10 months ago
Reply to  Bryan @brysite

Does it work

lucy
4 months ago
Reply to  Bryan @brysite

does it work

susie
11 months ago
Reply to  Breana

I’m having the same issue. did you figure out how to fix it?

Camille
11 months ago

Hi, all my apps just crash , even the appstore and the settings .I tried restarting my phone multiple times but it doesn’t do anything ,I saved a backup file on I tunes a week ago (Icloud isn’t activated on my phone ) but now either Itunes or the pc doesn’t detect the phone (iphone 6s),I hope I won’t lose my pics ,as I lost my dog yesterday and the only pics of him are on it…

Patricia Anne
1 year ago

I can’t open my “watch” on phone. It keeps crashing and crashing. I did all of these but still. I can’t connect my apple watch.

Evan Garcia
1 year ago

None of these solutions work because the only thing i can open is the home screen itself. I can’t turn off my phone, i can’t open setting, and siri can’t open apps

Liam Shotwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Evan Garcia

Sounds like a more serious software issue. You may want to attempt a DFU restore.

Lily
11 months ago
Reply to  Evan Garcia

I have the same problem. One minute my phone is fine and running. The next minute I cant turn off my phone, I can swipe left and right but it does not let me open any of my apps. How did you fix yours?

Jillisa
11 months ago
Reply to  Lily

I’m having the same problem. I can’t open any of my apps and can’t turn off my phone. The only thing I can do is hold my lock button down to use siri to send messages and call. Other than that the phone doesn’t allow me to do anything else except LOOK at my apps.

kuroo
10 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

same that’s happening to me rn, btw its been a month did you fix it?

Lord
6 months ago
Reply to  Jillisa

I was having the same issue but I just let my phone die. After I charged the phone I was able to operate the phone again with all functionality restored.

Jessica
6 months ago
Reply to  Lord

Nothing deleted?

Anne
1 year ago

Waze and USAA ap do not open. Havent for over a year. Followed all steps above. Issue doesn’t resolve. Husband has same phone, same aps, same versions. His work, mine dont. They open and immediately close. Please help.

Santiago
1 year ago

Several of my apps would not open. I followed the steps outlined here and it worked like a charm. I had to reset my settings and do an iCloud backup, but it worked. Thank you for the detailed instructions.

birger
1 year ago

Cant open spotify after update. it worked perfectly this morning after update, and when i started my car and bluetooth to listen to phone music, it wont even open anymore.

Che
1 year ago

Yep, I did new update as well. Now, only one of my apps will not open successfully. I wish I would have never did the iOS beta 14 update! That was the most important app I use on my phone!!?

Kass
1 year ago
Reply to  Che

how did you fix it

Minh
1 year ago

My iphone Xr after being updated to ios 14 beta cannot open apps or shut down. I tried using Siri but it didn’t work.
 

Kass
1 year ago
Reply to  Minh

thats whats happening with me, how did you fix it

Crystal Mercedes Robinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Minh

my phone is doing that too how did ypu fix?

Minh
1 year ago

I’m using the ios 14 beta. Suddenly i cannot open any app or shut down my phone

Kass
1 year ago
Reply to  Minh

same how did you fix it

Da hooman
1 year ago
Reply to  Minh

yo the not being able to shut your phone down part is kinda creepy ngl

Gaz
1 year ago

Thanks David,
My apps on my new iPhone se 2020 would not open, but after following your instructions, it works derfectly.
Cheers

jordan
1 year ago

My iphone XR , IOS 13.5.1 …. Contacts APP will not select a person. it will highlight the name but thats all,. Telus DOA the phone and its no change on the new replacement.
 

Jhozel pista
1 year ago

Need help, After resetting all my settings , still having the same problem. I cannot access any apps except from fb even when connected to wifi or mobile data. I`m using iphone 7 plus.

Harry Gallant
1 year ago

Reset all Settings I dreaded because so many personal touches are lost, but app freezes in outlook , settings, inability to install apps, then reading your article prompted me to do the reset. Thank you for providing such a well written expert detailed article. . It worked superbly for me, my Iphone 7 now operates much quicker, has no app problems and feels like new.

I have to say that IOS is starting to feel a little like Windows, with reboots, resets , uninstalls and re-installs etc being necessary

Pat
1 year ago

My target app opens but when I try to sign in it doesn’t drop down sign in area with username and password it just keeps feeling me to sign in. It worked for first month had iPhone 7plus then all of a sudden it didn’t work. It works in my daughters iPhone 11 and on my Samsung tablet. I have tried and tried to get target to help me and they don’t seem to be able to. Can you please help me? Thank you so much

Grace Flake
1 year ago

Hi my name is grace I have an iPhone 6s and I ran out of iCloud storage so I bought more hoping it would cause my phone to run faster it didn’t help my phone rarely lets me open my apps and if it does only for a little before it closes down and I’m left looking at all my apps and none of them working I can’t even text or call my phone is updated to the newest iOS and frankly I’m at my wits end do I get a new phone please answer I need this fixed !!!!!

Anonymous
2 years ago

My iPhone won’t even restart. All the apps are frozen and the phone won’t turn off. It’s seriously frozen.

Anonymous
2 years ago

MY FREE FB BIRTHDAY CARDS APP WONT OPEN!!..JUST SEE BALLOONS!!…LIKE APP CAUSE REMINDS ME OF FB FRIENDS BDAYS…PLS HELP!!…THX…CAROL

Anonymous
2 years ago

I have the new Xs phone. My banking app wont work. Ive updated and deleted and reinstalled. It still wont open.

Anonymous
3 years ago

and a app called 3d brick breaker revolution wont won’t open and I am at the latest build avalable available on ipad iPad 2 and it flashes the logo then crashes it was last updated before 2012 I think how do I fixi I have an iPad 2

Anonymous
3 years ago

so my iphone 7 Plus, i open apps and it shows the logo and just stays their and nothing happens then it quits please welp

Anonymous
3 years ago

My iphone 7 cant open 12 apps eventhough Ive disable all the restrictions

Anonymous
3 years ago

my iphone 6 cant open

Anonymous
3 years ago

I’m finally making a little progress

Anonymous
3 years ago

My music app is not wont open if I press music icon it open then its closed any idea?

Anonymous
4 years ago

Thanks David! This was really helpful. I was about to lose my mind because my apps and podcasts wouldn’t load or update.

Anonymous
4 years ago

my iphone can open

Anonymous
4 years ago

I need instructions for an ANDROID… 6

Anonymous
4 years ago

my iphone settings menu won’t open. I press the icon, it opens then closes
Any ideas?

Anonymous
4 years ago

I have iPhone 7plus and when I open the app it has a black screen and then kicks me out. I’ve tried resetting phone. Any other suggestions?

Sandy Ice
5 years ago

My phone says it is connected to wifi but when safari icon pressed says cannot find server

Chloe
10 months ago
Reply to  Sandy Ice

How do you fix it