June 18, 2024

How to Completely Delete and Uninstall Apps on Android

Trying to completely delete and uninstall apps on Android isn’t always as simple as tapping Uninstall. Instead, orphaned files are left behind, cluttering up your system, but there are ways to remove them.

Manually Clean Before Uninstalling Apps on Android

Reduce the amount of data that’s left behind after uninstallation by clearing the data. This won’t always be perfect, but it’s a good solution if you don’t want to install additional apps to do so. It’s also important to note that this task is performed before the app is uninstalled.

Go into your device’s Settings. Select Apps. (This may also be Apps & notifications or Application Manager, depending on your device.) Select the app you want to uninstall. If you don’t see a list of apps, select App info first.

Tap Storage. Tap Clear data and Clear cache to delete both. If you see a Manage data option, tap it to clear any additional data. This will wipe the additional data the app has installed, which may give a cleaner uninstall.

How To Completely Delete And Uninstall Apps On Android Storage

Deleting Folders Left Over After Uninstalling

When trying to figure out how to completely delete apps on Android, you may have noticed some leftover folders in your file manager app. This is another manual way to completely uninstall apps on Android.

Use a file manager app if you’re only cleaning up after an app or two. The app that is preinstalled on your Android device works fine in most cases.

For me, My Files is the default app. Whichever app you use, use the search feature to search for the name of the app you want to remove. Even just one unique word will help.

Using the My Files app to search for leftover folders after uninstalling apps.

Only delete files and folders that you’re certain are only tied to the app you want to remove. It’s a good idea to back up your device before doing this, just in case.

Connect to a Computer for a Deeper Clean

If you’re trying to do a major clean on an Android device, using a file manager tool becomes tedious. After all, you could have dozens of folders and files left over from numerous apps that you’ve installed and uninstalled over the course of a year or more.

One of the easiest ways to remove apps from an Android, along with all traces, is to first uninstall the app from Settings, then use your PC to remove residual files from your phone.

Connect your device to your computer via a USB cable. It’s best to use the cable that came with your device. Tap Other USB Options at the prompt. Alternatively, drag from the top to open the notification tray, and select USB charging. Select Allow to allow your computer to access your device.

Selecting the File Transfer option to allow your computer access to your device.

Change the default charging option to File transfer or Transferring Files. Depending on your version of Android, it may also say Transferring Files / Android Auto.

If you often connect your device to access files, select Always to confirm your choice, or Just once to only allow access this one time.

Uninstalling apps on Android by connecting to your computer via USB and deleting files.

Use your computer to browse files on your Android device, and delete folders and files you don’t need. Your Android device shows up as the name of your device. For example, I have a Samsung Galaxy S23+, and it shows up as Crystal’s S23+.

Exploring your Android device on a computer.

Make sure you only delete folders and files you absolutely no longer need. Some files may go into Recycle Bin, but others are gone permanently.

Use Revo Uninstaller to Completely Uninstall Apps on Android

Before using a third-party app to help uninstall app leftovers, back up your device.

Revo Uninstaller is an ad-supported free app that uninstalls and removes leftover files at the same time. The premium version removes ads, lets you back up your device, and see a comparison of files before and after the app runs. But the free version is all you really need.

Install the app. Tap the trash bin icon beside the app you want to uninstall, and let the app work its magic.

Using Revo Uninstaller to uninstall apps on Android.

Use CCleaner to Remove Leftover Files

CCleaner is a popular app that’s available on multiple platforms. For instance, it’s a quick way to clean up a cluttered registry in Windows. For Android, it helps remove temp files, leftover files, hidden caches, and more. The hidden caches option is behind a paywall, but everything else you’d need is free.

After installing the app, follow the prompts to let it scan your device for the first time, then select See results. Nothing deletes unless you check it. Review everything first, then select Finish Cleaning.

Using CCleaner to uninstall apps on Android and their leftover files.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I completely remove preinstalled Android apps?

If you’re like most users and hate all the bloatware that comes with a new device, you can remove much of it using the steps above. Look through the other methods to remove bloatware without rooting your phone.

However, certain apps, especially Google apps and certain manufacturer and carrier apps, will require you to root your device for uninstallation. To make this process relatively easy, use our guide to root your device with Magisk. You can also try rooting your Android phone with SuperSU.

Always back up your Android device before rooting it, just in case something goes wrong.

What if I delete the wrong file or folder?

If you use a file manager app on your Android device, you may be able to recover the file or folder if the app has a trash folder or recycle bin. This completely depends on the app, though.

Ideally, you backed up your Android device before deleting anything. If so, use your backup to restore the file. Remember, you can also back up your text messages.

If the file or folder you removed was tied to a specific app, uninstall the app using your phone’s Settings app. Then, reinstall it from the Google Play Store app or wherever you originally installed the app from. This will recreate the folder/file. However, any saved settings and data will be deleted.

How do I know if it’s okay to remove a file or folder?

If you aren’t sure whether a file or folder can be deleted safely, research its name using your favorite search engine.

Another option is to back up the file or folder to a cloud service or your computer. Then, remove the item from your Android device, and verify that all apps and your device still work correctly. Even if they do, you should keep the backup for at least a few months.

If you can’t verify whether the file or folder is important, don’t remove it. Most leftovers aren’t that big, and they’re not harmful, so they won’t take up much space at all. However, the more traces that get left, the less space you’ll have on your device. Over time, they can pile up and result in performance issues due to a lack of space on your device.

It’s a good idea to clean out trace files from uninstalled apps anytime you remove an app so that they don’t take over. For example, I test apps often. After just three months, I removed nearly a gigabyte of trace files from uninstalled apps.

Why do some apps have a “Disable” option instead of the “Uninstall” option?

These apps are usually Google, carrier, or manufacturer apps. They can’t be removed without rooting your device. However, you still have a way to keep them from running. Use the Disable option in Settings, which will remove settings and data but keep the app on your device.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Crystal Crowder.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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