Removing Pre-Installed Android Applications

First, you need to be really careful about removing pre-installed applications on your Android phone, some are necessary for it to function properly, but many of them are just bloatware and may not serve any useful purpose (also many of the pre-installed apps can be re-installed via the marketplace, and then managed as any other application).

Why do cell phone carriers / manufacturers put this bloatware on the phone — simply, MONEY — the software manufactures pay them to do so, or they will get a service fee if you use it.

If you haven’t rooted your phone; forget it… you can’t remove these applications.  Rooting some phone is very easy, but you’ll need to read up on how to do it and download the tools you need.

There are two primary simple methods for removing an application (I believe there’s also an application to do this, but I recall it not being free).

The first method is to install the Android development kit (which requires the Java development kit, not just the Java runtime).  This allows you to execute the commands from your PC (which gives you a better keyboard and display).

The second method is to install busy-box and terminal emulator on your phone from the market place.  This is pretty easy to use if you have a real keyboard, if you are forced to use a virtual keyboard on your phone, this might not be the best approach.  One hint here is use the settings on terminal to increase the font size, 14pt works best on my phone — you might also try a different color scheme to make the display more readable (you definitely want to be able to clearly read what you type).

Regardless of which of the above you do — you open a “terminal” to the phone and use the following commands (in bold):

  • su (elevate privileges to root)
  • mount -0 rw,remount -t rfw /dev/stl5 /system (remounts the rom as read-write)
  • cd /system/app (changes directory to the app directory)
  • rm -r / [AppName].apk (you need to type the name exactly as it appears)
  • ls [Pattern with wild cards] (you can use ls to view the app names installed)
  • mount -o ro,remount -t rfw /dev/stl5 /system (remounts the rom as read-only, though rebooting the phone is a good idea)

You might need to do an internet search to figure out the name of the directory (that’s what an apk is) that contains a particular application, and you can use mv rather than rm initially to move the application to a temporary location (much easier to recover if you make a mistake).

A little familiarity with *nix shell commands definitely is a plus; but as long as you’re careful it shouldn’t be a problem.

Originally posted 2011-01-03 02:00:08.