Recent Apps Button Not Working? Try These 10 Fixes

Recent Apps Button Not Working

The recent app button on Android devices is frequently used to switch between applications, kill application processes and prevent them from being cached, along with other things.

If you find your recent applications button is not functioning properly, you are not alone. This is an issue among many Android users, specifically those with Android devices running Android 10 and 11. Below, we will detail some of the ways you can resolve the issue.

Why Is the Recent Apps Button Not Working

1. The Recent Apps Button is Damaged

It is likely that the recent application’s button is damaged. There are not many things that deplete the user experience quicker than issues with navigation gestures or on-screen buttons.

Unfortunately, some users who prefer buttons over full-screen gestures have reported that the recent app button is not fully functional on Android. It appears this problem occurred after a major system update for many users.

If you think your Recent apps button is damaged, it is important to check some things to ensure that the button is actually dead.

First, you need to check if the button is really dead. There is a slight chance that a glitch in software serves as the cause of the malfunction. There are a few basic troubleshooting steps that enable you to ensure the button is actually not functional.

The first thing you should do is reboot your phone. This alone restarts all services open in the background and refreshes the core components of your phone in the event something crashes or otherwise stops working.

For Samsung owners with broken power buttons, Samsung has an Auto Restart feature that allows you to restart your phone despite broken keys. This function works if your phone screen is turned off and your battery exceeds 30%.

To utilize the Auto Restart feature, try the following:

1. Tap the gear-shaped Settings icon.

2. Locate the section titled Battery and Device Care or something similar.

3. This will give you the option to Auto restart your device at set times.

4. Toggle auto-restart.

5. Choose today’s date.

6. Set a time for your phone to restart.

Your phone will restart within a single hour of the time you set.

If you are not a Samsung user and you do not have an equivalent feature on your device, you can restart your device using the Android accessibility settings.

The Accessibility Menu can be enabled by tapping the gear-shaped Settings icon and then tapping Accessibility. This adds a shortcut to the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen that looks very similar to a person with outstretched arms.

Tap that person and select the Power option. Then, tap Restart from the menu that appears.

It is possible that your application does not come with this feature installed. If this is the case, you still have an option. You can download Google’s Android Accessibility Suite application to enable the function.

Additionally, you can clean the gaps around the button. The buttons on your phone are regularly exposed to the outside world and all of the nasty things that come with it.

It is likely that some of the gaps surrounding the buttons have compiled dirt and grime, which could affect internal connections.

You can also give virtual replacement applications a chance. These applications have the ability to replicate the actions of your buttons so that you are not required to use physical keys.

If there is a possibility of water damage, ensure that you let your device fully dry. You have to make sure the internals of your device is completely dry.

If you have dropped your device in water, turn it off immediately and let it fully dry out. Then, you can start your troubleshooting efforts.

Fix 1 – Use the Gestures Feature to Bring Up Recent Apps

To see all your open applications, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. You use the same gesture to go to the Home page. However, this time, hold your finger for a few seconds.

This brings up the Overview screen, allowing you to swipe left and right through all of your recent applications.

Tapping an application or swiping down on it will allow you to switch to it. Adversely, you can swipe up to close this application. Additionally, you can tap the icon of the application and choose the Split Screen option.

This Split Screen option allows you to choose another application and ultimately use both of them at once.

This depends on the model of your Android device, but you may see additional options. For example, you may be able to screenshot from this menu.

Fix 2 – Schedule an Appointment to Get This Button Fixed

If a button on your mobile device is broken beyond repair, you can easily make an appointment for your device to be repaired.

The cost of your repair is collectively dependent upon the severity of the damage to your device and the site you choose to repair said device.

Options for mobile device repair sites are places like Best Buy, your mobile carrier, and private repair services. Private repair services are located all around the United States and can potentially offer a better quote on a repair than your mobile carrier or local Best Buy.

However, bigger places may offer things that your local repair does not.

For example, if you use Best Buy within 60 days of purchasing your iPhone, you can purchase Geek Squad Protection or AppleCare and have your device replaced or repaired for free upon issues with the device.

For most of these places, it doesn’t matter where you purchased your phone, and you can trust agents at these different places to effectively repair your device. Many of these individuals are trained to repair various facets of mobile devices.

For example, you may need something like a battery replacement or have a cracked screen repaired. Whatever your needs, it is likely that it will not be difficult to find someone to serve those needs.

Another disadvantage of using a local repair shop includes Best Buy Geek Squad workers’ guarantee to use genuine parts backed by each phone’s brand. This is important for devices under warranty.

If you have your phone repaired using parts that are not backed by the brand, it is very likely that your warranty will be voided.

Additional functions that these repair shops and bigger retailers perform on a regular basis include Wi-fi troubleshooting and diagnosing software issues.

They can also help people incapable of conducting their own operating system upgrades if necessary. These are only some of the tasks that can be completed by a mobile repair specialist.

2. There’s a Bug

Bugs refer to mistakes in software or similar aspects of a program. As a result of these mistakes, unexpected results or erratic behavior may occur.

There are various types of bugs for mobile devices. Many of these are harmless, while some of them definitely deserve critical attention.

In a best-case scenario, bugs only affect software performance. In a worst-case scenario, it may make the software itself crash. The majority of the time, bugs originate in the source code, but they can also occur within the operating system.

Mobile applications commonly have bugs. This is why most applications have app development teams to ensure that bugs are fixed before the application is released to the market.

It is important to be familiar with the best practices and tools commonly used to fix bugs.

Mobile devices are clearly the king of our society; however, it is common to find mistakes in mobile applications. Some of the most common bugs include poor UX writing practices, security glitches, app crashes, and visualization problems.

Even the most popular applications in the world have bugs sometimes.

Fix 1 – Restart Your Phone

There are multiple ways to restart your mobile device under both of the most popular operating systems.

For Android users, the easiest way to turn off your device is to use physical buttons. You can simply long press the power button until you see a popup display on your screen and then tap Power Off.

You can also schedule for your mobile device to turn off through Settings. To do this, tap the gear-shaped Settings icon.

Then search for Power. Tap Schedule power on/off. From here, you can schedule the time you want the device to shut down and restart. You can also save changes from this place.

You can turn off Android phones using third-party applications, also. There are many trusted Power applications on the Google Play Store available for download.

There are both network and software benefits to restarting your mobile device regularly.

For example, if your device is having issues connecting to your cellular network, you can restart the phone, which forces the phone to reconnect and helps with both network and connectivity issues.

As far as software goes, there are performance benefits that come from clearing the phone’s memory. Apps often continue running in the background and causing battery drain, heat, and other conflicts.

Most importantly, applications running in the background can slow your device down overall. Restarting your device regularly can clear your phone’s memory and applications and solve additional unmentioned conflicts that regularly occur.

Some additional benefits that you may gather from regularly restarting your device include battery drain and calling issues. This can also solve issues you may be having with messaging or calling, along with low memory problems and Wi-Fi connection issues.

Fix 2 – Force Restart Phone

If your Android device is frozen or unresponsive, you may not have access to the power menu display when you press and hold the power button.

A force restart is often called a hard restart, but this process allows you to turn your device off and on without access to the power display.

To force restart your Android device, press and hold the power button for approximately thirty (30) seconds. Alternatively, you can press and hold both the Power and Volume Down keys simultaneously for ten (10) seconds.

After doing this, your device will show nothing but a black screen for a few seconds. Then, however, the device will turn itself back on automatically. If nothing happens, your device likely does not support the key combination you used.

If neither of the above-mentioned key combinations helps you restart your device, try to hold both the Power and Volume Up buttons for at least fifteen (15) seconds.

If your phone is not frozen and you attempt to restart it hard, it is likely that the device may capture a screenshot if you use a key combination that involves holding a volume key.

Fix 3 – Reboot Android in Safe Mode

This fix can assist you in finding problem applications with Android devices. Some applications available for download on the Google Play Store can cause issues with your mobile device.

If your device is having any of the following problems (restarting itself, freezing, crashing, or running slow), use the following steps to reboot your phone in safe mode.

It is important to note that safe mode removes some Home screen widgets. If you use these, take a screenshot before you reboot in safe mode to help know which ones you need to put back on after the reboot.

Safe mode is the easiest way for users to diagnose trouble on their Android phone or tablet because it halts third-party applications.

If you reboot in safe mode and notice a significant jump in performance, there is a good chance that a third-party application installed on the device is to blame.

If you are still interested in trying safe mode, you may be concerned that this process is overly complicated; however, it is very simple. The following steps will guide you in rebooting your device in safe mode:

1. Press and hold the power button until power options are displayed on the screen.

2. Tap and hold Power Off.

3. Hold this until you see the option to Reboot to safe mode, and then tap that option.

The exact wording of the on-screen prompts may vary by device and manufacturer, but the process should be similar for each of them. Once you confirm to reboot in safe mode, wait until your phone restarts.

After you restart your device, you will see applications and widgets grayed out. You should only have access to the first-party features on your device.

If you are having issues with a laggy screen, you can reboot your device into safe mode using the hard buttons on the front and outside of the phone or tablet. Just follow these steps:

1. Press and hold the power button.

2. Choose Power Off.

3. Turn your phone back on with the power button.

4. Hold the power button until an animated logo appears.

5. Hold the Volume Down button once the animated logo appears.

6. Continue holding Volume Down until your device reboots.

After you no longer need your device to be in safe mode, it is time to fix your phone. The first thing you want to do is reboot out of safe mode.

The easiest way to escape safe mode is to restart your phone. It should reboot like it normally would, so you can restart however you normally do.

Some Android devices come equipped with an easier way to escape safe mode. There may be a notification at the top of your screen that reads something like, “Safe mode is on – Tap here to turn safe mode off.”

Tap that notification for your phone to restart out of safe mode.

Fix 4 – Reset Your Phone

A factory reset is a process that erases all data on a mobile device and practically restores it to the condition it was in upon purchase.

To reset your device, use the following steps:

1. Tap the gear-shaped Settings icon.

2. Select System.

3. Tap Reset Options.

4. Tap Erase all data (factory reset).

5. Tap Reset Phone or Reset Tablet at the bottom of the device’s screen.

6. Upon being asked for confirmation, tap Erase Everything.

From here, your device will reboot and may show a progress screen to indicate that it is erasing the data on the phone or tablet.

After the progress bar is complete, the operating system will restart the device again and you will arrive at a screen that looks like when you unwrapped the phone from its original packaging.

Fix 5 – Contact Your Manufacturer

Your device manufacturer is likely the best place to get help for certain mobile device issues. To get help with your phone or tablet, look up the contact information for your manufacturer.

3. Your Phone is Out of Date

Mobile devices often need updates to their operating systems in order to maintain proper function. It is possible that the errors you are having with your applications button could stem from your phone being out of date.

Fix 1 – Update Your Phone

If your phone is out of date, the fix usually comes as simple as updating your phone.

If you need to update your Android phone, use the following steps:

1. Make sure your Android device has a Wi-Fi connection.

2. Tap the gear-shaped Settings icon.

3. Tap About Phone.

4. Tap Check for Updates.

5. If an update is available, an Update button will be displayed. Tap it.


If your recent app’s button is malfunctioning, you are not alone.

This function is often used to kill applications and migrate between applications, among various other useful functions. This guide should help you become less frustrated and guide you toward a solution. Good luck!

David Johnson is a freelance writer with 9 years of experience writing for Techzillo and other established tech outlets like iMore. His focus and key interests are Apple and accessibility as well as consumer technology in general. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.


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