How to block an app (or more) from accessing the internet, on Android

You may have some apps on your Android smartphone that access the internet too often, and you do not want that because they consume your data plan faster, or they consume more battery. Other apps you may prefer to use offline, without having them access the internet. No matter your motivation, here are two ways to block access to the internet for one app or more apps on Android smartphones and tablets:

NOTE: This guide covers first devices with Android 9 Pie or newer, and then devices with older versions of Android. If you do not know what version of Android you have, see How to check the Android version on your smartphone or tablet?

How to restrict apps from using the internet on smartphones with Android 9 Pie or newer

If you have a relatively new smartphone with Android 9 Pie (or newer) on it, the operating system offers you the tools you need for the job. First, open Settings and go to Wireless & networks.

Android Settings - Tap Wireless & networks

In the Android settings for networks and Wi-Fi, tap on Data usage.

Android Settings - Tap Data usage

Next, tap on Network access.

Android Settings - Tap Network access

Now you see a list with all your installed apps and checkmarks for their access to Mobile data and Wi-Fi. To block an app from accessing the internet, uncheck both boxes next to its name. If you want to turn off the WiFi for certain apps, uncheck the Wi-Fi box for those apps, and leave Mobile data checked.

Android Settings - block apps from accessing the internet

If you tap on System apps, you are going to find out that you can block access only to Mobile data for those apps, and not to Wi-Fi.

This is a restriction designed by Google that ensures your systems apps get connected to the internet, at least when you are connected to WiFi.

Android Settings - Block system apps from accessing mobile data

When you are done blocking apps from accessing the internet, close the Settings. When you use an Android app which has its internet access blocked, you see a notification like the one below. Do not tap Remove because you are going to remove this restriction.

An Android app is restricted from using Wi-Fi networks

Tap Cancel instead and use the app offline.

How to restrict apps from using the internet on smartphones with older versions of Android

If you do not have Android 9 Pie or newer, then your only option is to use an app like NetGuard, which acts as a firewall on top of the Android operating system. Install the app on your Android smartphone or tablet, and then start it. The app doesn't do anything unless you enable the NetGuard switch on the top.

Enable NetGuard on Android

After you enable it, NetGuard informs you that it uses a local VPN to filter the internet traffic, so that it can block the internet access for the apps that you select.

The great thing about this app is that it doesn't send your internet traffic to a remote server as other similar apps do. Tap OK to go to the next step.

NetGuard uses a local VPN to filter the traffic

Then, NetGuard wants you to set up a VPN connection that allows it to monitor the network traffic. Tap OK one more time.

NetGuard VPN connection request

NetGuard then asks you to disable the Android battery optimizations for it, so that the operating system doesn't stop it from functioning in the background. Tap OK and follow the instructions.

Android battery optimizations should be disabled for NetGuard

The Battery optimization screen is loaded. Choose All apps, find NetGuard in the list, tap on it, select "Don't optimize" and click or tap Done.

Do not optimize NetGuard on Android

The NetGuard app can now do its job correctly. Get back to it, and tap the WiFi and Cellular icons for the apps that you want to restrict from accessing the internet.

Restrict apps from accessing the internet, with NetGuard

When you do that, you see that their icons turn from green to orange.

Which solution works best for you?

In this guide, we tried to cover both newer smartphones and tablets with Android, as well as older ones. Also, we chose to recommend NetGuard because it has the most positive reviews on Google Play compared to similar apps. Before you close this article, tell us about your experience and which solution worked for you.