How to remove bloatware and carrier apps from Android
Despite a huge uproar from the Android community, many OEMs (and sometimes even carriers) continue to sell smartphones with bloatware and unwanted apps pre-installed. While most of the industry has opted to use Google apps by default on their Android smartphones, chances are your next smartphone will still come with a number of unwanted and unnecessary apps. These apps can range anything from streaming services to video games to sometimes even gambling apps.
Such apps can be quite annoying as they occupy the storage space of your Android device, and many OEMs do not even allow uninstalling them. More often than not, these apps even send obtrusive notifications and can even display ads on your device. If you are bothered by such pre-installed apps and want to remove them from your Android device, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we explain how you can remove bloatware and carrier apps from your Android smartphone. One thing important to note here is that this method works without root, and you can perform this without any special privileges. Moreover, this method not only works for third-party apps but first-party apps as well. For example, if you don’t like the default notes app of your Android smartphone, you can uninstall it and choose to use Google Keep as your default notes app.
Disable pre-installed apps
If you’re worried that uninstalling pre-installed apps from your Android device could hinder with its normal functioning, the best option would be to disable the app. Many smartphone manufacturers allow you to disable pre-installed apps instead of completely uninstalling them. This will not free up storage space, but it will stop the app from running in the background. Moreover, the app you disable will also no longer show up in the app drawer. To disable an app, follow these steps:
- Tap and hold the icon of the app you want to disable.
- Select App Info.
- On the App Info screen, tap the button that Disable.
- Select Disable App.
If you don’t see the Disable option in the app settings, it means that your Android smartphone does not support disabling pre-installed apps. In this case, you can remove them by following the methods mentioned down below.
How to remove bloatware apps from Android
Before we explain, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. First, you need to make sure that USB debugging is enabled on your Android device. To enable USB debugging, go to the Setting → About Phone and then tap the Build number several times until the pop-up “You’re now a developer” shows up. Now head over to the Developer Options in Android settings and then turn on USB debugging.
In addition to enabling USB debugging, you need to make sure that ADB is installed on your Mac or Windows device. Our sister website XDA Developers has an excellent guide that explains how you can install ADB on your Windows, macOS, and Linux device in just a couple of steps. Once ADB is installed on your PC/laptop, the next thing for you to do is to choose the method you want to proceed with.
Follow the first method if you’re familiar with how Command Prompt (on Windows) or Terminal (on macOS and Linux-based OSes) works. If you’re not sure (or are not comfortable with using Command Prompt), follow the second method that helps you remove bloatware apps from your Android device using a simple GUI.
If you’re familiar with Command Prompt/Terminal
If you know the basics of Command Prompt /Terminal, you can follow these steps to remove bloatware apps from your Android device. This method doesn’t require you to download and install any file.
Connect your Android device to a Windows or macOS device with ADB installed.
Now, open the Command Prompt or Terminal on your device. Type
cdand then drag and drop the ADB folder over the command-line window. Press enter.
- Now, type
./adb deviceson macOS) and press enter. You’ll receive a pop-up on your phone asking you to Allow USB Debugging? Tap on the Allow, and if you want, you can also checkmark the Always allow from this computer box for ease in the future.
You should now be able to see your Android device under the List of devices attached.
Now, you’ll have to find out the package name of the app you want to uninstall from your Android device. To find out the app package name, download and install the App Inspector app from the Google Play Store. Using this app, you can check the package name of the app that you want to uninstall.
You can also get the names of all the apps on your Android phone using this code:
pm list packages | grep '[OEM/Carrier/App Name]'. Let’s say you have got a OnePlus smartphone and you want to retrieve the name of all the apps pre-installed by OnePlus on your phone, you would use the command
pm list packages | grep 'oneplus'.
Once you deduce the package name of your desired app, type
pm uninstall -k --user 0 [package name]in the command-line window and press enter. The app should now be removed from your Android device.
In case you want to reinstall the app, you can do the same using the command-line tool. To re-install the already deleted app, enter
adb shell cmd package install-existing [package name]in the command-line window and press enter. The app should now be restored on your device.
If you’re not familiar with Command Prompt/Terminal
In case you’re not familiar with how Command Prompt or Terminal works, follow these steps:
Head over to this link and download the Universal Android Debloater (UAD) application on your device. Click on the Assets button and then select the appropriate file for your device. (Download the
.EXEfile if you’re using Windows and
.tar.gzif you’re using macOS).
Next, connect your Android smartphone to a computing device using a USB cable. After connecting it, you should receive a pop-up on your phone (similar to the one shown below) asking you to Allow USB Debugging? Tap on the Allow, and if you want, you can also checkmark the Always allow from this computer box for ease in the future.
Now, copy and paste the file you downloaded to the ADB folder.
Open the file from the ADB folder. UAD should automatically detect the model of your Android smartphone.
On the next screen, make sure Recommended, Enabled, and All lists are selected under the top drop-down menu. Based on your device’s ROM, UAD will automatically select the list of bloatware apps that can be safely removed from your device.
If you want to uninstall specific carrier apps, select carrier from the drop-down menu.
Now select the apps you want to uninstall. Once done, select the Uninstall selection, which is given at the bottom right corner. Once the operation is completed, the selected apps will be removed from your device.
However, if you mistakenly uninstall a core app or an app that you didn’t want to delete, you can restore it using the UAD tool. If you want to restore a package, select Uninstalled or Disabled from the drop-down menu. Select the app you want to restore and then click on Restore selection.
Is there anything else that you can do?
If you’re not able to disable the app on your Android smartphone or find the ADB methods difficult, there are some other ways that you can try to remove bloatware from your Android device. One of the ways is to hide the app from the app drawer.
Most modern-day Android devices come with the option that allows the users to hide apps from the home screen and app drawer. For e.g., you can hide apps on OnePlus devices using the hidden space in the app drawer. Simply swipe right when the app drawer is open, and you’ll be able to hide/unhide apps. Similarly, on Xiaomi devices, search for “hidden apps” in the phone settings.
However, if you want a permanent solution and want to remove bloatware apps completely from your Android phone, ADB is the way to go. If you have any questions or run into any issues following the methods mentioned above, let us know in the comment section below, and we’ll be glad to help.