If you’re careful to only purchase reputable apps on the App Store (always get recommendations or check reviews), you usually won’t run into any major problems. But every so often, be it due to an iOS update, an app update or just pure bad luck, you’ll find yourself stuck with an app that keeps crashing. If you’re lucky, it only crashes once in a while. If you’re unlucky, you might not be able to open it.
When this happens, many iOS users will simply leave a bad review and then delete it, but that’s such a waste of money. Before you go to that extreme, consider a few simple steps that might clear up the problem. We’ve listed them below in the most practical order, and also generally from easiest to most complex. Fist, though, check to make sure the app is compatible with your device. You shouldn’t be able to install anything incompatible from your device, but if you download from iTunes all bets are off.
1. Close it from the multitasking bar
Often when an app is stuck crashing, it’s because it can’t get past a particular point while loading. You can occasionally force it out of the loop by closing it completely.
To do that, double-tap your phone’s home button. This will bring up a list of everything you currently have suspended in multitasking. Apps will appear in a card-view, with the most recent app appearing from left to right. Swipe to the right until you find the app that’s crashing. Tap and hold the card, then swipe up and the app will close fully. You may also want to consider closing everything else you have open – while apps shouldn’t use any memory while they’re suspended, we find some occasionally still seem to slow things down, and memory problems are a big cause of crashes.
After that, try relaunching the app. If it works, then congratulations – you’re done.
2. Reset your device
“Have you tried turning it off and on again” is one of the first pieces of advice given when troubleshooting, so that’s the next step. There are two ways to shut down an iPhone. You probably know the first – holding the power button on the upper-right of the device until the “slide to power off” appears, then, well, sliding to power off. But that leaves everything suspended so you can pick up right where you left off when you turn your phone back on. It probably won’t help with a serious crash problem.
The second method, sometimes called a “hard” reset, clears out all the memory and caches and such, leaving you with a much cleaner starting point when you power it up again. This time, hold the power button down until the “slide to power off” appears, and keep holding it down. Ignore the slide and use your other hand to hold down the home button as well. After a few seconds, the phone will turn off – this might leave a ghostly image on your screen for a second, but it will clear. Turn it back on by continuing to hold the power button, and you’ll have a fresher device to try launching your crash-happy app on.
3. Delete and reinstall it
If nothing else works, then it’s time to start pulling out the big guns. Deleting an app will usually fix any crashes caused by corrupted data. Unfortunately,that will also clear all its local data, like your saved games or other content. If you’re seriously invested in that data you might want to skip this step for now. If you’re okay taking that risk, though, press down on the app’s icon on your home screen until an “x” appears on the upper-left of its icon. Press the “x” to delete the app, and then confirm that you want to delete it.
Once it’s off the phone, you can reinstall it. The safest way to do this to ensure you won’t get charged again by installing a different version is to do so from your “Purchased” list in the App Store. To find that, open the App Store app and tap “Updates.” Tap “Purchased” and then pull the list down slightly to bring up the search bar. Enter the name of your app and it should show up in the list. Lately, even things that Apple has removed from the App Store show up here.
4. Contact the developer
If none of the steps above fix the problem, you’ve almost definitely run into a problem with the app itself. You could go ahead and leave a bad review at this point, but that leaves the app’s developer completely unable to respond or help you if there’s a workaround. Instead, try to get in touch with the developer directly. Most developers welcome these sorts of reports. It helps them isolate and fix problems.
The “Report a Problem” link in the App Store just reports it to iTunes support, so skip that for now. Instead, open iTunes on a desktop system and search the iTunes Store for your broken app. Click on Ratings and Reviews. Just above customer reviews is App Support. Tap on this and you’ll often find the quickest method to reach out to the developer.
When you contact the developer, keep your cool and give them as much information as you can – which app you’re using, what happens to cause the crash, which device you’re using, what version of iOS you’re on, and so on. With any luck, they’ll get back to you within a couple business days with information on how to work around the problem, or to let you know they’re working on a fix. This might take a while, but if it’s important to you it might be worth the wait.
5. Other options
If nothing above works and the developer won’t get back to you (or has no contact options available in the first place), you’re left in a bind. You might be able to get someone’s attention with a bad review, which you can leave on the app’s page under “Ratings.” You can also be patient and wait for the next update.
Refunds from Apple aren’t normally an option, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. If you’ve got an insurmountable problem with an app, visit its page in the App Store and scroll down to the very bottom. The “Report a Problem” button is what you’re looking for. Tap that, and fill out the form. Be as detailed about your problem as possible, and then click Report. If Apple evaluates your issue and finds it to be valid, they may just give you a refund.
These are some of the tried and true tips to fix problematic iPhone apps. You can also seek help from our forums. It’s quite possible that someone else is having a similar problem and might have found a solution.
Original article by Nissa Campbell. Updated by Christopher Meinck.