Nov 182012
 
Article Android

The Android mobile phone or tablet we obtain from our carrier often comes with many pre-installed applications, demos of games, etc. Some of them might be of interest to us, but most likely we will have no interest in some others (Google Plus, Facebook, Youtube, a demo of a game we have no intention to buy,…)

The problem is, these applications occupy a valuable space in our system disk, and they cannot be uninstalled or moved to the SD card using the available options.

To move or remove those apps, we must first obtain root access to the device, and then use an application to access the filesystem, locate and move the files that compose the applications.

In this post we will remove the “Mi Música” application that comes preinstalled in a Samsung Galaxy ACE phone from the spanish carrier Movistar.

Warning! By accessing the filesystem with root privileges, a wrong operation can render the device unresponsive, turning the phone into an expensive “brick”. If you decide to go ahead and follow the procedure explained in this post, you are implicitly assuming the responsibility of any mishap that could happen!

1. Rooting the device

The procedure to root an android device depends on the brand and model of the hardware, and on the version of the Android OS installed on it.

If your device is not rooted yet, you can check if the procedures described in these other posts of the openalfa blog are applicable to your case:

2. Installing a File Manager

There are many applications in the Android Market offering this functionality. In this post we will employ “Super Manager”. This application is a tool suite that comes with many other interesting tools, besides the File Manager itself.

After “Super Manager” has been installed, we must open it and go to the configuration menu, and enable “ROOT -> Enable ROOT function” for the File Manager to request root privileges when they are required.

In the screenshot below we can see the “Super Manager” application already installed, and also the preinstalled applications  ”Juegos” and “Mi Música” from Movistar:

3. Locate under the directory “/system/app” the “.apk” package to remove

Next, we start “Super Manager”, and choose “File Manager”. By default, the File Manager shows the contents of  ”/mnt/sdcard”. Press twice on “Backup up level folder” to navigate up to the root directory “/”. Then, go to “/system”:

 

On entering the “system” directory, when the File Manager asks if the filesystem should be mounted writable, we must press the “R/W” option.

Go down one level to the “app” subdirectory under “system”. Inside, locate the application we want to remove (“Mi Música”).

Click on the checkbox to the right, and select “Cut” in the menu at the bottom of the screen.

Go back to the “/mnt/sdcard” directory, and select “Paste”. This will move the file to the sdcard. Next, check again the checkbox to the right of the app name, and select “Rename”. Give the file an extension other than “apk”, for instance, deleting the last character, rename “Movistar_musica.apk” to “Movistar_musica.ap”:

and that’s it! Now, repeat the same procedure for any other applications we want to remove from the device.

Note: Some applications have files not only in the “/system/app” directory, but also in the “/data/app” directory, and they might also keep data under “/data/data”. To completely remove these apps, we must also move to the sdcard and rename the corresponding files under these directories.

For instance, the app named “tuenti” includes:

  • a file “/system/app/tuenti.apk”
  • a file “/data/app/com.tuenti.android.client-1.apk”
  • a directory “/data/data/com.tuenti.android.client”

 Posted by at 1:21 pm

  6 Responses to “How to delete preinstalled apps from an Android device”

  1. …is the root.zip download updated and/or compatible with 2.3.6?..

    • The root.zip download in the post on how to unroot a samsung Galaxy ACE GT-S5839i was used to successfully unroot a device with Android 2.3.6 from Orange. But please remember that rooting the device always entrails some risk, and there is no guarantee that it will work on any other device.

  2. …thanks again, guys…one last question (I know I’m a pest), why do we change the extension?..

    • Hi again Dickon,
      You are welcome to ask anything related to this post, that’s what comments are for :-)
      During the initialization of the device, the system scans the system memory and the sd card for any file with extension “.apk”, and treats it as an app.
      By changing the extension to anything else, the file is not recognised as an android app and is ignored.

  3. I have accidentally deleted my google play store and google play services apps from my rooted android phone when i was using the above and can’t seem to be able to download them again from the internet – now I can’t download apps – can i rectify this please? if so how?

    • If you followed the procedure in this post, you can easily recover the application by renaming “com.android.vending.playstore.ap” back to “com.android.vending.playstore.apk” and moving it back to the original folder.

      Otherwise, you need to find, download and reinstall the Google Play apk.

      I haven’t tried this myself, but the apk seems to be available for download from a link in the page “http://www.androidpit.com/google-play-download”.

      Hope this helps.

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