How-To Geek

How to Get Rid of Bloatware on Your Android Phone


Manufacturers and carriers often load Android phones with their own apps. If you don’t use them, they just clutter your system, or–even worse–drain your battery in the background. Take control of your device and stop the bloatware.

Uninstalling vs. Disabling Bloatware

You have a few choices when it comes to removing bloatware from your system.

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, though, and in some cases may block your phone from getting updates. So we almost always recommend freezing those apps instead.

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.

Best of all, recent versions of Android come with the ability to disable most apps out of the box–no rooting or extra tools required.

If the app in question doesn’t have a disable option, or if you’re using an older version of Android that doesn’t have this feature, you’ll need to root your phone and use a third-party app to freeze that bloatware. And if you want to uninstall the bloatware completely, you’ll need to be rooted–no matter what version of Android you have.

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.

How to Disable Bloatware With Android’s Built-In Setting

Disabling bloatware on newer phones is easy. Just open your app drawer and tap Android’s “Settings” app, then go to “Apps”. You may have to swipe over to the “All” tab to see all the apps on your system.

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Select the app you want to disable–we’ll use “Motorola Spotlight Player” as an example–and press the “Disable” button.

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You’ll get a prompt warning you about possible problems, but it’s okay–we’re just disabling it. If you experience issues, you can always come back to this same screen and re-enable the app later.

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After disabling it, you may also want to tap the “Force Stop” and “Clear Data” buttons as well.

Note that not all apps will have this disable option–but in many cases, they should. If they don’t, you’ll need to use the rooted method below to disable them.

How to Disable and Uninstall Bloatware on a Rooted Phone

If the app in question doesn’t have a disable option, or if you’re using an older version of Android that doesn’t have this feature, things get a bit more complicated. To start, you’ll need to root your phone, so if you haven’t done that, do that first. You’ll also need to enable USB debugging in Settings > Applications > Developer Options. And, as always, we recommend making a full nandroid backup before continuing in case something goes wrong.

There are many apps that claim to freeze bloatware, but at the end of the day, Titanium Backup is still the best on the block. We’ve already covered using Titanium Backup to back up and restore your Android Phone, but it has a number of other features too, including freezing and uninstalling bloatware. The only catch: you’ll need to pay $6 for the pro version.

If you’re dead set against paying $6 for Titanium Backup, you can try the free NoBloat or App Quarantine, but reviews are much more mixed. We’ve teseted them and they worked fine for us, but your mileage may vary. Our previous recommendation, Gemini, no longer allows freezing in the free version. We have a lot of experience with Titanium Backup, and we know it works well on a variety of devices. Plus, it’s one of the most useful apps you can have on a rooted phone. So we’re going to use it for our tutorial.

To freeze an app with Titanium Backup, install Titanium Backup and the Pro key from Google Play. Launch the app and grant it superuser permissions when prompted.

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Head to the “Backup/Restore” tab to see a list of apps on your system. You’ll see both 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. You can always unfreeze apps later, but only if your system remains stable enough to do so.

Scroll to the app you want to freeze or uninstall. In this case, we’ll use “Motorola Spotlight Player” as an example.

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Select the app in question and you’ll see a popup with different actions you can take. Tap the “Freeze” button to freeze it. (If you want to uninstall it, you can do that here as well, but again, we don’t recommend it.)

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If all goes well, you’ll see a message stating the app was successfully frozen.

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To un-freeze an app, just come back to this screen and choose “Defrost”.

Once you run through either of these processes, those apps should be disabled completely, aside from taking up some space on your system. You won’t see them in the menus and they won’t run in the background. You may have to restart your device or launcher before the app icon disappears from the menus, but for all intents and purposes, they’re out of your hair for good.

Image Credit: Mark Gulm

Whitson Gordon is is the editor-in-chief of How-To Geek. He is also a Windows user, PC builder, metalhead, chopstick-using potato chip eater, and Midwest-to-Southern California transplant. You can follow his nerdy exploits on Twitter and Facebook.

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 03/2/16

  • Christian M.

    Just to point this out : on older android software (4.4.x) the "disable" button reads "turn off"

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