How to Control What Apps Can Use Cellular Data on iPhone

Jun 17, 2014 - 32 Comments

How to control what iOS apps can use cellular data

Modern versions of iOS allow iPhone and LTE-enabled iPad users to control exactly which apps can use cellular data. Additionally, the settings control panel can help to make the decision easier to allow or disallow a specific apps cellular access by displaying how much cellular data a specific app is actually using. This can be a valuable tool to use if a specific app is consuming more bandwidth than it should, you don’t want an app to update when on cellular connections, or even if you’re simply trying to avoid going over a bandwidth cap imposed by a cellular network provider.

Note: this only impacts app data when an iOS device is connected to a cellular network, meaning 3G, 4G, LTE, etc, it has no impact on the app being able to connect to data sources through Wi-Fi networks.

Managing Which iOS Apps Can Use Cellular Data

This allows you to set exactly what apps can use and can not transmit through a cellular data connection:

  1. Open the Settings app and near the top of the options choose “Cellular”
  2. Scroll down past the switches for general cellular capabilities, LTE use, roaming, and hotspot, to find the “Use Cellular Data For:” section
  3. Control what apps can use cellular data in iOS

  4. Locate the app(s) you wish to disable cellular data access for, and toggle the associated switch into the OFF position
  5. Disabling cellular data usage for a specific app in iOS

  6. Repeat with other apps as desired to control or disable their cellular data access, when finished hit the Home button to exit out of Settings

You’ll notice a number underneath each applications name, that number indicates the amount of cellular data used since the counter has last been reset (typically after a system restore, manual reset, or perhaps never if the phone is new). In these screenshot examples, the App Store has used 823MB of data, which is no big deal if you have an unlimited cellular data plan, but if you had a cap at 1GB you may find that setting important to disable, choosing instead to rely on a wi-fi connection.

Again, if you don’t see this list on the iPhone it’s probably because you didn’t scroll far enough, it is located beneath the Personal Hotspot control settings.

Note that cell data usage and controls for System Services and core functions like iMessage cellular use are managed deeper within the Cellular Settings panels.

Use this trick if you’re looking for very fine-tuned controls over what applications can transmit on your iPhone or iPad data plan, it’s a much better solution to turning off all data if just one or two apps are the hungry hogs and the rest of them aren’t consuming much of the data plan in general.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tomas says:

    For me, some apps as FaceTime doesn’t allow to be disable in this screen, I can move the option to “off” position (to left) but when I return it’s enable again. Does anyone face this same problem?

    • Paul says:

      I do not have that issue and can turn FaceTime on or off with cellular data, what carrier and version of iOS are you using? I am on AT&T, iOS 7.1

  2. Jessica S. says:

    I love these simple yet wonderful tips. Thought I would take the time to thank you after reading your website for about a year, almost daily. Just wish the cellular data tracker could be reset monthly if you wanted it to.
    Keep it up and is this blog a hobby or a full-time job?

  3. Mark says:

    While a few of my iOS apps can have their cellular data switched off, most simply reactivate when I leave the system settings. When I return, all my settings have reverted. Happens with both Apple made iOS apps & 3rd party apps

    Cheers !

  4. Gary says:

    I’ve done this but when I open those apps I constantly get a message that says cellular data is turned off. How can you disable that pop up window????

  5. Max Lill says:

    Thanks for the tip. I had no idea that this was possible, i’ve been stuck with all or nothing for quiet sometime. Although i’m having some trouble like Tomas and a few of my apps aren’t staying disabled. Any suggestions? Thanks

  6. Sharlyce says:

    i found that list but the only apps listed are: passbook, facetime and, mail. How do i add facebook and other social medias to the list?

  7. Ameed says:

    I found the list but the only listed apps are : passbook and FaceTime how can I add the whatsapp and other apps ??

  8. Marvin says:

    I’ve disabled cellular data access for twitter but I’ve noticed that I still get notifications of tweets. I didn’t want to turn of my notifications for this app cause I don’t mind having it as long as it’s not using my Cellular Data. does this happen to anyone else? Is this app still able to access my Cellular Data?

  9. kris says:

    I’m on ios 8.1.2 on the iphone 5c but the only options that appear are facetime and passbook

  10. ferdie says:

    I have a question, the contents of my wife’s iPhone 6plus in the cellular data only allows FaceTime and passbooks, how can all the other apps be added or made to appear?

  11. Ashley says:

    Ok I have the same problem as many of you. It started in my 4s and when I switched to the 6, it stayed. When I turn off and on my phone, the LTE is on for all apps. I turn them off, and they do turn off, but when I go back to look, it says they are turned on. Now the problem for me is that is I want to turn back on any of the apps, I must turn off my phone and restart the process

  12. Kristene says:

    When I go to cellular data and turn it on all that comes up under the list “use cellular data for” is passbook, how do I see all the other apps and disable the ones I don’t want to use?

  13. Acir says:

    why my apps does not appear on “use cellular data for:” on my iphone?

  14. ellen says:

    the only options that appear are FaceTime and passbook. how can I add Facebook and others? Help me.

  15. John says:

    Every time I update a app it keeps coming up wit billing price

  16. Megan says:

    My apps don’t even show up on the part where is says “use cellular data for” so I am not able to use any data for any apps how do I fix this?

  17. Emily says:

    The only apps that appear there are FaceTime, passbook and mail. How do I add other apps to this list?

  18. Mccoy says:

    My apps are stuck off how to I turn them on

  19. Amir says:

    I cant turn on my cellular data usage for my apps

  20. Amir says:

    Everytime i turn them on they are automatically turned off again when i leave settings

  21. jennifer says:

    i have the sam problem as amir, i turn on my cellular data for facebook, exit off and then go back in and its turned off so now i cant use some apps unless there is wifi around which is completly useless. HELP!

  22. Taylor says:

    I’m having the same problem. I had to turn off my data usage for some apps and now I can’t turn them back on. I’ve exited out, turned off my phone, even reset it and nothing works. Please help

  23. prajyot says:

    I’m having the same problem. I had to turn off my data usage for whatsapp and now I can’t turn them back on. I’ve exited out, turned off my phone, even reset it and nothing works. I tried uninstall and again install the app.
    Then also i am getting the problem. Please help!

  24. natalia says:

    Ive disabled my data for certain apps and now when I want to activate it again it doesnt allow me. How can I fix this problem?
    Thank you

  25. Lauren says:

    I’m having the same problem turning it off now I can’t turn it back on when I leave settings.

  26. Samantha says:

    I am having the same issue as Amir and lot of you I just noticed it today when I went to go play a game and it wouldn’t connect. So I tried to turn data on for it but it shuts off when I leave settings. I need help!

  27. Taylor says:

    For those who are still struggling, downloading the recent updates should help

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