If your Android phone or tablet is starting to fill up with too many apps, it's a good time to review what you have installed and pare it down a little. Here's how you uninstall those downloaded apps.
Deleting System Apps
First, a warning. If you want to delete an app that shipped with your phone, you're mostly out of luck. That's pretty frustrating if you're stuck with some bulky app for a music store you don't use, for example, but there's not much you can do. Shy of going to drastic measures and rooting your phone, the system apps have to stay. Most of these apps are tied into the inner workings of your phone, and deleting them could potentially make other apps break. System apps include things like Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome or Browser, and Google Search. Some manufacturers like Samsung and Sony put their own system apps in their phones and tablets in addition to the Google apps, and some, like the Amazon Kindle, remove all Google apps entirely and include a different set of system apps.
Deleting Apps on Standard Android
If you've got a standard version of Android, the steps to delete/uninstall an app are pretty simple. There may be some variation for some varieties of phones, such as those made by Samsung, Sony, or LG, but this seems to work on most of them.
For versions of Android prior to Ice Cream Sandwich:
- Tap on the Menu button (either a hard or soft button)
- Tap on Settings: Applications: Manage applications
- Tap on the app you want to delete
- Tap on Uninstall
If there's no uninstall button, it's a system app, and you can't delete it.
For versions after Ice Cream Sandwich
You can either go to Settings: Apps and use the steps above.
For versions after Jelly Bean:
- Open your app tray.
- Long-press on the app (hold your finger down until you feel a feedback vibration and notice the screen has changed).
- Drag the app onto the Home Screen.
- Continue dragging to the upper left corner, where you should see a trash can and the word Uninstall.
- Release your finger over the Uninstall button.
- If you only see an area labeled App Info at the top of the screen, you cannot delete that app.
For Some Samsung Devices
This doesn't apply to all Samsung devices, but if the instructions above didn't work, try:
- Tap on the Recent apps button, then Task manager.
- Navigate to the Download tab and find the offending app.
- Tap the Uninstall button next to the app.
- Tap OK.
Again, if it doesn't offer an Uninstall button, you probably can't delete it.
For the Kindle Fire
Amazon elected to go with an older version of Android and customize it to pieces, so their instructions are different, and the methods above won't work. You can manage your Kindle from your Amazon account on the Web, but here's how you delete apps using the device itself:
- Go to the Home screen and tap on the Apps tab.
- Tap on the Device tab (this shows you only apps on your Kindle as opposed to all the apps you could potentially store on your Kindle. Pretty similar to what they do with books and other digital items.)
- Long-press on the offending app (hold your finger down until you feel a feedback vibration and notice the screen has changed).
- Tap Remove from Device.
It's also worth noting that you're not locked to the Amazon App Store when you install apps, so while you retain access to Kindle apps you've installed through Amazon (just like books or movies that you can download while you're using them and uninstall when you need more space without losing permanent access), you don't necessarily have that same access to apps you installed through third party app stores or side-loaded on your device.
Purchased Apps and the Cloud
This brings up a good point. Nearly all Android app stores will let you keep your license to reinstall a purchased app. So if you uninstall an app you purchased from Google Play, for example, you can still download it again if you change your mind later. Amazon will allow you to deliberately delete your access to a purchased app forever, but you must do that through your Amazon account on the Web, and it should be fairly clear when you are doing this. It is a much more involved act than just uninstalling it from a device. This may come in handy if you deem an app offensive and never want to see it again, for example.
Spammy Apps Making More Apps
Occasionally you may run into an app that makes other apps, so you find yourself deleting apps you don't remember ever installing. No, you're not imagining things. This is the subject of an entirely different article, but if you can find the offending app, you can generally get rid of this problem. Fortunately, app stores seem to be cracking down on this sort of nuisance.