Modern Android phones and tablets ship with more storage than ever before, which makes it all too easy to load them up with apps and never worry too much about removing them.
Keep that up for too long and you will run out of storage space eventually though. And besides that, some apps will continue to run in the background and hog your system resources even if you rarely open them, so it’s always a good idea to prune your collection and remove some apps from your device every now and then.
There’s another reason you might want to delete apps from an Android device: bloatware. Some phone manufacturers ship devices loaded with their own email, messaging, and calendar apps, not to mention third-party apps and games that they include by default.
Many of these you’ll be able to uninstall – though bear in mind that some system apps are impossible to delete. Don’t worry though, we’ll also show you how to disable them, and in some cases hide them too, so you can just about forget they’re even there.
If your priority is reclaiming storage space then deleting apps is a great space to start, but for more tips check out our full guide to clearing space and getting more storage on Android. If you’re trying to get rid of an app that you worry includes a virus, make sure you also read our guide to removing an Android virus, as deleting the app may only be the beginning.
How to delete apps on Android phones or tablets
Method one: Uninstall apps via Settings
Android comes in lots of different versions, but this method of deleting apps is guaranteed to work on absolutely any Android device. It also lets you see a full list of all your apps along the way too, so it’s a great approach if you’re on a digital spring clean.
Open Settings: Open the Settings app from the cog icon that will be found on the home screen, in the app tray, or on the drop-down notification bar at the top of the screen.
Open Apps: Scroll down to the section labelled ‘Apps’, or maybe ‘Apps & notifications’. Within that you’ll then have to select ‘See all apps’, ‘Manage apps’, or something similar to reach a full list of your installed apps. Browse the list of installed apps to find any that you no longer wish to keep on your device.
Select an app and choose ‘Uninstall’: Having found an app you no longer need, select it to access the App info page, then tap ‘Uninstall’.
If you don’t see an ‘Uninstall’ option then that means this is a system app that you’re not able to remove entirely from your phone or tablet. You won’t be able to uninstall it using our other methods either, but you may still be able to disable or hide it.
Method two: Uninstall from the home screen
If you’re trying to uninstall a specific app, it may be quicker to do it straight from the home screen shortcut.
Select the home screen shortcut: From the home screen, tap and hold the shortcut for the app you wish to uninstall, then drag it to the top of the screen
Drag and drop the shortcut onto ‘Uninstall’: If an Uninstall option appears, drop the app icon on top of it
Not all Android devices support this, but give it a go to find out.
Note that you may see a ‘Remove’ option instead of, or as well as, ‘Uninstall’. This will only remove the app icon from the home screen, not delete it. You can verify this by opening the app drawer and finding the app shortcut staring back at you
Method three: Delete apps from the app drawer
If your phone or tablet won’t let you uninstall apps from the home screen, it will definitely let you do it from the app drawer – the collection of all your apps that’s usually accessible by swiping up from the centre of your home screen.
Exactly as you just tried in method two with the home screen, tap and hold an app icon from within the app tray and drag it to the top of the screen to see whether an ‘Uninstall’ option appears. If it does, drop the app shortcut on top of this option to remove it from your device.
You might also see an ‘Uninstall’ option pop up right above the app icon when you long-press it, this varies by Android version.
As with method one, some apps won’t offer an uninstall option here – these are system apps that unfortunately cannot be installed.
Method four: Uninstall apps via Google Play Store
The final way to uninstall apps from your Android phone or tablet is to reverse the installation procedure. So, open Google Play, browse to the app in question.
Where you might expect to see ‘Install’, you should instead see ‘Uninstall’ if it’s an app that you’re able to remove.
This is the best approach if you’re uninstalling an app that’s stopped working, but want to reinstall it afterwards, as you’ll already be on the right page to do so.
How to disable or hide apps you can’t uninstall
Some system apps can’t be uninstalled using the above methods – you simply won’t see the ‘Uninstall’ option appear no matter what you do. This pretty common for essential apps like your phone’s camera or messaging apps, but can even extend to things like the calendar and calculator.
On some phones you may have options to reduce the impact of these apps though, even if you can’t uninstall them.
First up, if you follow method one then you may see a ‘Disable’ option. By disabling the app you prevent it from running and using system resources, though be aware that this may break some features of your phone. If you find something doesn’t work properly as a result, revisit this page and click the ‘Enable’ button to switch it back on.
Even if you can’t fully disable the app, this screen may give you other options to reduce its footprint on your phone. You may be able to clear the app’s data cache or storage to save some space; restrict its data usage to stop it hogging your bandwidth; or uninstall updates to roll it back to an older (and smaller) version.
Depending on your phone brand, you may also be able to hide apps from your app drawer without disabling them – this won’t remove the apps or stop them running, but will stop them taking up space in your app drawer.
The exact approach to this varies by manufacturer, so the easiest thing to do is to search in the Settings app for the specific tool: Hidden Space on a OnePlus, Hide apps on a Samsung Galaxy, PrivateSpace on a Huawei, and App Lock on a Xiaomi.
If your phone is by another manufacturer it may not have a hidden app feature, or may use a different name for it.
How to remove apps from your Google Play library
Even once an app has been deleted from your device, you’ll still find it in the Google Play store in the ‘Library’ tab of the ‘My apps & games’ section.
This doesn’t mean that the app is actually installed on any of your devices – it simply means it’s still linked to your account, which is obviously important if it’s a paid app that you might want to install again in the future.
If you know that you won’t want to use the app again and want to tidy up this library too, simply click the cross on the right to remove any app from your account.
How to remove app shortcuts
Occasionally an app shortcut on the home screen will misbehave and become unresponsive, and when this happens you don’t really want to delete the app but the shortcut itself.
As mentioned above, you can do this using the same approach mentioned in our second method above, but selecting ‘Remove’ instead of ‘Uninstall’.
Delete the app shortcut from the home screen by dragging it to top of the screen and dropping it on top of the Remove option. You can then replace the shortcut by finding the app in the app drawer, and tapping and holding it to copy it to the home screen.
If the app or shortcut is still causing problems, you should uninstall and reinstall the app from the Google Play Store.