Our mobiles come with a lot of pre-installed applications: the basic ones, the Google apps, those from the mobile manufacturer and sometimes with the odd extra. When the mobile comes with too many pre-installed apps, they are often called bloatware.
If you are not interested in some of these applications that come with the mobile, the best thing you can do is uninstall them to free up space, speed up the mobile or simply get them out of the way. We tell you all the ways you have to remove apps from your mobile, with and without root.
What is bloatware?
In Android we have inherited the term bloatware from the PC, although its meaning is slightly different. On PC, hugely heavy software or “bloatware”, which may or may not be pre-installed, is called bloatware. A typical example would be a pre-installed antivirus suite on your PC, or all-in-one apps like Nero Multimedia Suite used to be.
While on your new Windows PC or laptop in an afternoon you could get rid of a large part of the bloatware by uninstalling applications, on Android the solution is not so simple, since some applications are theoretically impossible to uninstall or, at least, not in the traditional way.
How to remove pre-installed apps
If you have a new mobile and it comes with a few pre-installed apps that you are not interested in at all, there are several ways to get rid of them. Best of all, nowadays you don’t need root to do it: there are very good tools without root that make your job much easier.
It should be noted that system applications are stored in a different partition from the rest (in the system partition, to be exact), so deleting them does not really free up much storage space. What you gain is that their data won’t take up space, won’t boot up, and you won’t have to see them in the app drawer.
Some apps can be uninstalled without further ado
Before trying more complicated methods, it’s worth checking if the app can be uninstalled without further ado. Surprisingly, this is the case for some secondary Google applications that often come with the mobile, but are not “mandatory”, such as Google Play Games.
When the mobile includes pre-installed applications by manufacturer agreement, it is usual that they can be uninstalled without further ado, just like any other app that you have installed. To check this, long press on the app to see if the Uninstall menu appears. If your launcher doesn’t support this option, you’ll need to go to its info screen in Settings > Apps. These are the steps:
- Enter the mobile settings
- Tap on Apps
- Tap on the app you want to uninstall (you may need to tap See all first)
- Press Uninstall
Other apps can be disabled
When fighting bloatware, most of the time you will come across applications that cannot be uninstalled : the option does not appear directly in the menu or, if it does, it cannot be pressed. This is often the case for Google apps and extras that the manufacturer has that might duplicate functions (like Google Calendar and Samsung’s Calendar app, for example).
In this case, you cannot uninstall the app, but you can disable it. When you disable an app, it no longer appears in the app drawer and cannot be opened. So it will not use CPU resources and you will free up some space if it has been updated later, as well as freeing up its data and cache space.
The advantage of disabling an application is that you remove the application from the middle safely, easily and you can change your mind at any time: you can re-enable it at any time. To disable an app, go to Settings > Apps, tap on the app in question, and tap Disable (or disable, in some layers). If it’s a system app, you may need to use the Show System menu. These are the steps:
- Enter the mobile settings
- Go to Applications
- Tap on See all
- Tap on the menu :: and choose Show system
- Tap on the app you want to disable
- Tap Disable and confirm your intent
Uninstall any mobile app without root
The above method will work for many pre-installed apps, but not all. In some applications the disable button cannot be pressed or these buttons do not appear directly. It is still possible to remove them using ADB commands. Technically, the application is still in the system, but not available to the indicated user, so it is indeed very useful for removing bloatware without root.
Uninstalling pre-installed apps with ADB commands is possible, although it is somewhat complicated. You need to connect to the mobile with ADB and write a command for each app you are going to uninstall. For example, to uninstall the YouTube app you would type
pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.google.android.youtube.
An easier option is to use Universal Android Debloater, which does the same thing but with an interface that makes your task much easier. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and, after connecting the mobile to the PC, it shows you all the installed apps and suggests which ones to uninstall safely.
It is a tool to be used with caution, since uninstalling too many apps can cause problems with the mobile, but it makes the task much easier. Basically, you click on an app, read its description at the bottom, and if you want to uninstall it, hit the Uninstall button to its right. It is even possible to select several apps at once and uninstall them all at once. These are the steps:
- Turn on developer options on mobile
- In the developer options, turn on USB Debugging
- Download Android Universal Debloater for the operating system of your PC
- Connect the mobile to the PC with a USB cable
- If the mobile asks, accept the debugging from your PC
- Open Universal Android Debloater
- Choose the apps you want to uninstall and press Uninstall
Uninstall apps with root
The previous methods fulfill the premise of removing the applications from the list of applications, preventing them from being opened and freeing up some space on the mobile, but their APKs will still be physically on the mobile.
The only way to completely uninstall system apps is by using root permissions and apps that take advantage of them, such as App Remover or Root Uninstaller. You must be especially careful in this case, because what you uninstall is “really” uninstalled and you will not be able to recover them later in a simple way, as if it happens with the non-root methods.
With root access, you can uninstall whatever you want and it will be physically removed from the system partition. This will not give you more free space on the user data partition, other than getting rid of the space that your updates, data and cache would occupy. It is highly recommended to make a backup of what you uninstall before uninstalling it, if the app you are using allows it.