Uninstalling an app that you have installed on your Android device from Google Play is simple — but what if you didn’t install it? What if the app you’re trying to remove is one of those that came pre-installed on your device, provided by the manufacturer, your mobile network, or as a part of Android itself?
Removing unwanted system apps from Android can be tricky, but it is not impossible.
Why You Might Want to Remove These Apps
Before you start deleting apps, however, you should spend a few moments considering just why you want to get them off your phone.
For instance, it might be that they are cluttering up your home screen. If this is the case, then long tapping and dragging to the Remove box at the top of the screen should get them out of the way.
On the other hand, these apps might be considered “bloatware” and take up valuable resources. Pre-installed games might take up space on your phone’s storage, while Internet-connected apps could be eating into your monthly allowance. Such apps might even be recording and/or uploading information that you would prefer they didn’t.
And then there’s the impact on your battery life.
Unfortunately, removing these apps isn’t as easy as it could be. It really depends upon whether your Android device is rooted or not.
Options for Non-Rooted Devices
Deleting apps isn’t possible in most cases, but what you can do is disable them, or on older versions of Android, hide the ones you don’t want.
Prior to Android 4.4 KitKat (which you should now be using to protect against the stock browser bug), you could open the app drawer, tap the menu and select Hide Applications before selecting the apps you wished to hide and then tapping Done to finish.
For devices running Android 4.4 KitKat, you should go to Settings > Device > Apps and find the app that you want to remove. Select Force stop and then Disable — you won’t be able to delete the app, but it will stop running on your phone, never to be seen again until you perform a factory reset.
This isn’t a great solution, admittedly, as there are some apps that cannot be disabled in this way. Should you find that this doesn’t suit you, there is always the option of installing an app launcher replacement. Any app can be removed from a third party launcher, but remember that it will still be on your phone, hidden away in the background.
In most cases disabling and hiding an unwanted app is just as good as removal.
Rooted? Try These Tools
For those of you who have rooted their phones (a universal method of rooting doesn’t exist; you’ll have to head over to the XDA-Developers forums to get an idea of where to start for your model), the matter of removing unwanted pre-installed apps is a little easier.
This is a good, free solution that removes pre-installed bloatware and makes backups too — after all, you wouldn’t want to delete the wrong app and end up with a featureless phone!
A premium version is also available for $1.99 (£1.25), offering some enhanced features such as blacklisting system apps.
Arguably the first app you might think of for dealing with unwanted apps on your Android Device is Titanium Backup. It can handle any app you throw at it, whether downloaded from Google Play or pre-installed.
The free version allows you to backup and uninstall apps, but the paid version ($5.99 or £4.11) allows you to freeze apps and more.
This app offers an easy way to remove apps while also proving the tools to move apps to your SD card, should this function be required.
Although ad-supported, System App Remover seems to be faster than the other two options in removing pre-installed system apps.
A final option you might want to check out is a simple bulk uninstall tool we reviewed a while back that focuses entirely on batch uninstalling apps in a clean and easy way. Check it out if the above options don’t tickle your fancy.
Don’t Forget Custom ROMs!
There is one other solution for removing unwanted apps from your Android device: flash a custom ROM.
While it might take a bit of research to find out which new ROM will fulfill your needs, the solution can leave you with a stripped-back version of Android that you can keep particularly close control of.
OmniROM and Paranoid Android are two examples of custom ROMs that are designed for users with an eye on performance and privacy, and these are two key reasons why you might want to kill the bloat on your phone. You should definitely consider these an option, especially if you’re already rooted.
What’s Your Choice?
Did you know that you can remove unwanted system apps from Android? Do you use any of the Android app removal utilities or methods described here? Or do you have a favourite app that we haven’t mentioned?
Share your thoughts below.
And before you fill the newly recovered space, note that not everything you want to do on your Android requires an app. Check whether the tools and services you want to use on your phone offer progressive web apps too.