Get rid of uninstallable apps in Android

Most Android phones comes with preinstalled apps: in decent Samsung Galaxy smartphones one will find Facebook, Netflix, Microsoft OneDrive and other apps which because of many reasons you might want to get rid of. Here is how to do it without need to root Android device.

In this post I will demonstrate how to permanently remove Facebook components which are uninstallable from Android apps settings on Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G smartphone. Why Samsung? Because I am Samsung Community Superuser and active Lithuanian community member. Let's get started.


Prerequisites

To remove unwanted apps I will be using Android Debug Bridge or adb in short. This is a command-line tool which provides access to a Unix shell on Android device so that you can perform multiple tasks including installing and debugging apps, download and upload files to filesystem, etc. And that all without even rooting Android – out-of-the-box Android supports it.

First we need a computer to run adb on. I will not be covering installation steps here in this article, but on Ubuntu-like systems it is as easy as sudo apt install adb.

Next we need proper USB A to USB Type C cable with sufficient data transmission (charge-only cables will not work).

And finally we need Android device: I'll be using European Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G with Android 11 and One UI 3.1 with all required software updates as of time of writing this post.

Process

I will be performing process on Ubuntu 20-like system, so some commands will be Linux-specific. Although all commands involving adb should work the same on Windows or Mac as well.

To make sure USB cable is good enough, list USB devices with lsusb:

└> lsusb

Bus 001 Device 011: ID XXXX:XXXX Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd Galaxy series, misc. (MTP mode)

If device is not shown, ensure your phone has USB debugging enabled in Settings > Developer options. Phone will ask to confirm debugging connection on first connect, so make sure to accept.

Now it's time to fire up adb and see if it is able to connect to device:

└> adb devices
List of devices attached
XXXXXXXXXXX device

XXXXXXXXXXX will be an ID of your device. When that is shown, we can continue our journey to Android shell:

└> adb shell
p3s:/ $

As you can see, running adb shell open command prompt – this is already on the phone.

Let's list all the nasty components Facebook has sneaked into device:

$ pm list packages | grep facebook
package:com.facebook.appmanager
package:com.facebook.services
package:com.facebook.system

Package names will be needed in next step. Exit Android shell typing exit and return to your computer's shell. From there initiate adb uninstall command to get rid of each unwanted package:

└> adb uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.appmanager
Success

└> adb uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.services
Success

└> adb uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.system
Success

Done – none of these components are on your Android device anymore.

We can go further and remove any other unwated but uninstallable apps – just use corresponding name right after grep command. I did get rid of some unwanted Google apps such as Maps and YouTube – when needed, they work just fine in web browser.

For example, I also removed Netflix app (com.netflix.mediaclient) and it's components (com.netflix.partner.activation) but afterwards installed app from Google Play store.

Have fun!

#samsung #android #app #adb


My name is Gytis Repečka, I am Data Engineer currently working with PostgreSQL and Linux infrastructure on AWS cloud. Writing code in SQL, Go and Bash. Experienced data professional (Teradata, Informatica) with focus on Inmon's data warehousing architecture (10 years). I enjoy using, promoting and contributing to open source software and love communicating about tech to both advanced and non-tech people. Mention me @gytis@mastodon.lt on Mastodon.