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How to Disable or Uninstall Android Bloatware

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Manufacturers and carriers often load Android phones with their own apps. If you don’t use them, they just clutter your system and sometimes in the background, draining resources. Take control of your device and stop the bloatware.

We’ll be focusing on disabling – also known as “freezing” bloatware here. It’s a safer process than uninstalling the bloatware completely, and is also easier to accomplish with free apps.

Uninstalling vs. Freezing

Uninstalling an app is exactly what it sounds like – the app is entirely removed from your device. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get many of these preinstalled apps from the Play Store if you ever need them again. Uninstalling some preinstalled apps may result in problems or instability, so you could run into problems.

It’s safer to “freeze” apps instead of uninstalling them. A frozen app is disabled completely – it won’t appear in your app drawer and it won’t automatically start in the background. A frozen app cannot run in any way until you “unfreeze” it. Freezing and unfreezing are instant processes, so it’s easy to undo your changes if you end up freezing a necessary app.

If you really must uninstall apps, you should freeze them first and wait a few days to ensure that your phone or tablet works properly without them.

You can’t uninstall or freeze preinstalled bloatware apps without root access and third-party app managers. Try and you’ll find the options grayed out in the standard Android interface.

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Prerequisites

You’ll need a rooted Android device to freeze system apps. We’ve got a guide to rooting Android devices – it should only take a few minutes, assuming your device is well-supported. You’ll also need to enable USB debugging on your Android (open the Settings –> Applications –> Development screen on the device).

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App Options

Titanium Backup is the most frequently recommended way to freeze bloatware. We’ve already covered using Titanium Backup to back up and restore your Android. Unfortunately, the free version doesn’t include the freeze or uninstall features — to freeze bloatware, you’ll need to pay over $6 for the pro version. While Titanium Backup is a great app, this is a steep price to pay if you only want to freeze a few apps.

Gemini App Manager is a free app that allows you to freeze apps, so we’ll be using it here. Unfortunately, Gemini App Manager doesn’t offer the same Uninstall option that Titanium Backup does – but freezing apps is safer than uninstalling them, anyway. To uninstall apps, you might want to look into Titanium Backup Pro.

Freezing Apps

First, install Gemini App Manager from Google Play. Launch it and tap the menu button.

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Tap More in the menu and select Expert Mode.

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Scroll through the apps and you’ll see apps you’ve installed and normally hidden system apps. Disabling important system apps could cause problems – for example, if you froze the Package installer app here, you wouldn’t be able to install packages. Be careful about what you freeze – of course, you can always unfreeze apps later, assuming your system remains stable enough to do so.

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You may want to speed things up by tapping the Filter Packages button and selecting Of System. This will only display the preinstalled system apps.

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Locate the app you want to freeze and long-press it to view the menu.

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Tap the Block App option in the menu – this is the same as “freezing” an app in another app manager.

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The Superuser app will prompt you to allow the root access so Gemini App Manager can continue

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Gemini App Manager will disable the app instantly – you’ll see a lock icon beneath the app, indicating that it’s disabled. To re-enable (unfreeze) an app, long-press it and tap the Unblock App option.

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The app will now be disabled completely, aside from taking up some space on your system. You won’t see it in the menus and it won’t run in the background. You may have to restart your device or launcher before the app icon disappears from the menus, though.


The process should be fairly similar in Titanium Backup Pro – switch to the Backup / Restore tab, tap the app you want to disable, and tap Freeze.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 06/2/12

Comments (13)

  1. Cenzo

    Tried the “How to Disable or Uninstall Android Bloatware” article. Did everything as described in the article but no success. Unfortunately all it does is Spin and say Updating. I’ve had to restart my phone six times so far. Even re-booted my pc. The SuperUser Request never comes up.

    When the phone is restarted the apps that I’m trying to freeze (Blockbuster and NFL Mobile) are still there.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. Manuel

    While I love Android this is downright pathetic, Google is one of the biggest companies out there and they don’t even bother pushing updates and now 5.0 is around the corner.
    http://tinyurl.com/cft8bla Here can download this App for free.

  3. Screwtape

    Great timing on a good article. I was researching how to do this without paying $6 for TBP.

  4. UltimatePSV

    A few things I’ve learned:
    Freezing an app is the same thing as going into the system directory with a root explorer and changing the apk file’s extension to something else.

    It’s even easier if you decide to just flash a custom ROM. Since you already have root access, it makes sense to do it; it usually makes your phone faster too. I flashed CyanogenMod 7 on my Droid X, and now it’s both faster and no bloatware.

  5. Superevil

    It’s ridiculous that we even have to do this. Imagine if you bought a brand new computer and you couldn’t uninstall any of the OEMs bloatware. When I bought my Droid 2 about 2 years ago it had some crapware on it but now where near as much as most of the droids Verizon sells now. My brother bought a Droid Razr and there’s about 30 preinstalled bloat apps you can’t remove without root.

  6. beano311

    @Cenzo

    If you’re not getting a superuser pop up, then your phone probably isn’t rooted. Read the prerequisites section in the article again.

  7. Dark Reality

    It is for the best that users can’t freeze/uninstall apps without putting some work in. While some of the OEM apps are incredibly stupid (my carrier, US Cellular, includes My Contacts Backup, which basically does the same thing Gmail already does with your contacts… and Your Navigator Deluxe, which is actually prettier than Google Maps Navigation, but doesn’t really offer anything different otherwise), the average user shouldn’t be picking and choosing what to uninstall. Motorola Photon 4G and Electrify (basically the same thing) have a nice compromise. Bloatware can, in fact, be uninstalled without root. The ROM actually installs them as user apps. The only bloatware app that cannot be removed is Google Play Books, which, AFAICT, can’t even open eBooks (I guess except those you buy from Google Play).

    And if you need its features, Titanium Backup is worth much more than the measly six bucks the pro license costs. A movie ticket costs more. A pack of smokes costs more in some areas, and coffee from Starbucks costs almost as much. The time it has saved me is worth far more than what I paid. Just how worthless is your time? That’s what I ask when I buy an app. If the app will save me time, it’s worth it to me. I cheapen myself and say my time is worth ten bucks an hour. If an app can save me an hour here and there and it’s less than $10, I’m getting a great deal. At over 2 hours, a $10 movie ticket is an okay deal. A paperback novel might take several hours, and is a better deal.

  8. Chris Hoffman

    @Cenzo

    You probably need to root your phone — you’ll find a link to a guide in the prerequisites section.

    @Dark Reality

    I wasn’t knocking Titanium Backup, but we generally try to write about free things. Titanium Backup is great, but, like I said — if you want to freeze an app or two, you don’t need to shell out $6.

    I’ve been criticized as a sell-out in the past for recommending *free* commercial software, I can’t imagine the comments I’d get if I told every reader to shell out $6 for a paid app!

  9. Paul

    Best way: Just install a custom ROM.

  10. James P.

    If you’re running 4.0 (ICS), you can freeze apps, unrooted, using a built-in feature.

    Go to uninstall an app like normal, and click on the “All” tab at the top (Downloaded, On SD Card, Running, All). Find the pre-loaded app you want to freeze, press it, then click on “Disable”. This removes the app from the drawer and prevents it from running.

    The app is still physically on the phone, taking up space, but at least you’ll never see it if you don’t want to. To enable a disabled app, follow the same steps.

  11. Srini

    Thanks James. That was probably the most “helpfulest” of all, if I can call it that.

    I had rooted my previous Nexus One and played with it. However, I just got my HTC One X. Don’t feel like rooting it just yet. But needed to find a way to do this “freezing” stuff. And after reading the article, I was just thinking that if Gemini App Manager can do it, so can Android. I just needed to find it. You came in as a blessing in disguise. Can’t imagine how many apps I need to freeze for now.

    Thanks once again.

  12. Chris Hoffman

    @James P.

    Thanks for the tip! Unfortunately, some manufacturers disable that feature on their builds of Android ICS.

  13. Natural Fool

    So why isn’t there a lawsuit against these corporations that force you to keep these “bloatware” apps on your phone? I remember a lawsuit against Microsoft for the EXACT reason of preventing people from removing Internet Explorer where Microsoft LOST and was forced by a court order to make it removable. someone got deep pockets to take on the challenge. us poor folks ain’t got a prayer in hell of being able to take the big corporations on in court yet it’d be a slam dunk for someone with the resources to challenge them on they’re business practice of forcing unwanted apps on OUR devices. Microsoft found out they can’t do it, time to set the score back in the consumers ball court.

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