How to disable unwanted system apps and bloatware from your Android phone (Android 4.0 and up)

A very handy but underrated feature in Google’s Android 4.x operating system is the ability to disable apps. Disabling apps is a way to basically freeze and hide any unused, unwanted, or unruly system apps that came on your phone (ie: ones that you can’t uninstall). This feature might come in handy if your phone came stocked with a bunch of unwanted bloatware that you never use. If you’re sick of looking at those unused icons cluttering up your app drawer, you can simply disable them and they’ll disappear for good.   Another reason you might want to disable an app is if it is causing problems for your system, whether it be battery drain or lag. A perfect example was Google’s Currents app that was causing lag for Nexus 7 users after the Android 4.2 update. Users simply disabled the app, and the lag immediately disappeared. Whatever the reason is that you might want to disable an app, it’s a pretty straightforward procedure. Read on after the break for instructions. To disable an app, you must be on Android 4.0 and up. If you are, then follow these steps:

  1. Open your main Settings menu
  2. Tap on Apps
  3. Swipe to “All”
  4. Find the app you want to disable and click on it
  5. In the top right you will see a disable button (if it says Uninstall instead of Disable, then it is not a system app, and you can just uninstall it like normal)
  6. Tap Disable
  7. Confirm by clicking OK on the pop-up dialogue
  8. Exit settings
  9. A reboot may be necessary, but more than likely won’t be

If you ever want to enable the app again, just follow the steps above and tap Enable at step 6.

A couple of disclaimers: 1) The steps might be slightly different depending on if your phone has a custom manufacturer skin (ie: Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, or HTC’s Sense), but should generally be close to this order. 2) Some system apps cannot be disabled. For example, an app called ConfigUpdater cannot be disabled, because it is a vital part of your phone functioning properly. 3) Some bloatware might not show the disable button. If that’s the case, tap uninstall updates. If it still doesn’t give you an option to disable, than either the app is vital or the carrier forced the manufacturer to block it. Still, this method should work for most apps.

Let us know how this guide worked for you and if you have any questions, just ask in the comments section! Good luck!

About the Author: Alexon Enfiedjian

Alex Enfiedjian is an Android enthusiast and tech journalist from Central California.

  • I get an “uninstall updates” option trying to remove “Sprint Zone”. It won’t let me completely uninstall or disable.

    • Alex Enfiedjian

      If you uninstall the updates do you still not see the disable button? For certain apps I could not disable until I clicked uninstall updates. What happens then? If it still doesn’t work, it might also be that Sprint Zone is a necessary app for them to keep on your phone. Were you able to disable the other sprint apps?

      • RTWright

        There are several apps like that, one of which is from Samsung on the GSIII. This one is called Galaxy Choice, it has no uninstall option nor does it have a disable, as a matter of fact it doesn’t even show up in the App listings at all.

        As for the Sprint Zone, it is essential, even if you uninstall the updates, the button for Disable will be darkened and unusable.

        • Alex Enfiedjian

          Bummer. That’s why I like to stick to carrier-free Nexus devices. No bloatware ever. :)

          • RTWright

            When they add the SDCard slots to those, I will too. Till then, nope!

      • RTWright

        There are several apps like that, one of which is from Samsung on the GSIII. This one is called Galaxy Choice, it has no uninstall option nor does it have a disable, as a matter of fact it doesn’t even show up in the App listings at all.

        As for the Sprint Zone, it is essential, even if you uninstall the updates, the button for Disable will be darkened and unusable.

  • cant find the disable option for htc vicid Running 4.0

    • Alex Enfiedjian

      As in, you can’t find the settings menu for it? Or as in, the Disable button is not there? For all apps?

  • Chris

    no such option on the Galaxy S3 by T-Mobile.

  • Doesn’t work on the Sensation 4G to disable slacker….I can uninstall updates but not slacker itself…

    • Wait….post needs updated….uninstall any updates then the disable button shows.

  • Carl williamson

    Works on my Sg2 cheers

  • Carl williamson

    Works on my Sg2 cheers

  • emunny057

    Method #2- flash a coustom rom that is 100X better then stock and already debloated!

  • Matthew Dye

    Love my GS3 but this is for sure one of the things I miss from my Nexus. The GS3 on Sprint has relatively little crapware, but I wish I could disable some Samsung apps and just use my own favorites. I also wish there was an easy built-in way to make the phone switch to stock without rooting or flashing a new rom. Oh well – I can dream! Lol

  • andr0111

    Titanium Backup

  • Unhappy w Samsung now

    Yes. , I didn’t install galaxy choice app but it’s in my phone just 2 days ago. ..d phone is 2 months old. ….I feel it’s disgusting. ..wanna remove it but don’t know how as there is no uninstall button. ..please advise, thanks

    • Jeebus

      Some apps you can’t uninstall unless you root the phone. Check out the xda-developers’ forums.

  • This is not working for me . I have An Xperia arc s , and it had that free trial McAfee antivirus , when i tried to uninstall it , it doesn’t work popping : uninstall not successful . I entered google play and tried to uninstall it from there but it said deactivate first . But there is no deactivation button in the app settings , only uninstall . Plz help .

  • Help! I disabled the phone app on accident and it wont let me hit enable.

  • Nancy Chan

    This method works well on my Galaxy Note 2, thank you very much. I now have very sensible looking app pages

  • Shaun

    After disabling an application called ‘CloudAgent’ on a Samsung Galaxy S4, I went back to view all apps in the list however at that point it disappeared. I have tried everything including rebooting, removing the battery, etc. however the application will not appear for me to re-enable it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Shaun

      The application just does not seem to exist in that list anymore, meaning I am unable to re-enable it, causing some issues for me here.

      • Jay

        The application gets thrown to the bottom of the application manager when disabled. So if you are searching alphabetically just try to scroll all the way to the bottom of the app manager

    • Shaun

      After over an hour of playing around to fix it, the solution was to go to the application manager in settings, and then view ‘all’ application. Then hit the menu softkey and select ‘Reset app preferences’. So simple! Thought I’d post for anyone looking for this in the future :)

  • Jeebus

    Worked like a charm on my Samsung Blaze (4.0.4 ICS). Thanks!

  • monica thomas

    Thank you. I still have a couple that I couldn’t disable but I am satisfied.

  • massysett

    Good grief thanks so much for this. Verizon loaded a crappy Slacker app on my phone which crashes all the time. I was willing to not use it and ignore its existence but now it sometimes puts an icon in my notification area and loads up ads! I can’t completely remove this monstrosity but hopefully this will silence it.

  • CapJon

    On my Galaxy S-III I found that for those apps that only had “Uninstall Updates” would then allow you to Force Stop and Disable AFTER you Uninstall Updates.

  • Robert Barrett

    Fantastic for my brand new Note 2. Italw tended to have 40 applications running at once, mostly bloatware. Thanks.

  • Ahmed

    do apps still have access to my phone after being uninstalled or disabled??.access as in when we permit them to control the phone in certain ways,before installation.

  • RC Jr

    FYI. I had to uninstall any updates before it would let me disable it. Seems to have done the trick though. Thanks for the info.

  • Shank

    Is there any way to disable non system apps?
    I want to check performance without the app, but don’t want to uninstall n then install again.

    • Shailendra

      Store its .apk file on ur sd card. Uninstall it . If u have .apk file, u can install it later.

    • Use the same method, as said above.

  • Justin Han

    Do you guys know how to uninstall or disable ROM??

  • Lijia Lyles

    On my GS5 I want to make google play music my default music player so when I use voice command it can find my music. Currently it is the Samsung app that came preinstalled. Is there a way to do this?

    • bamboo

      go to your file folder, select any music to play, an option will pop out “select default player for this file” if you don’t see it then go to settings, manage applications, and go to the stock music player and clear data. that should do the trick.

      • Lijia Lyles

        What file folder? Oh and I now have the Note 4 but would still like to change my default music player.

  • Neeloor Palai

    So far this is the best app free

    No rooting needed but only work on samsung

  • Sameer Louise

    Thankyou Alex…

  • Brandon

    What does it mean if the disable button is greyed out and not clickable for the app I want to disable???? Help please…

    • Anonymous Android User

      If that’s the case, the reason why you can’t disable the app is because it is an important app that keeps your phone running, if you disabled it, your phone would not work.

  • Scooby

    How do I reenable an app if the “enable” button isn’t available after I’ve disabled it?

  • vonie

    How do I uninstall updates?

  • MoeDaRat

    And if there is no disable button…?

    • Anonymous Android User

      That and what if when I go to disable an app I get this message: “If you disable a built in app, other apps may misbehave. Your data will also be deleted.” Does it mean my app data will be deleted or my phone data will be deleted?

      • Wolfie Butler

        Most of the time the truly vital apps you can’t disable but Google Play Store and Google Play services are needed for updates and the pop up worning just met for the app

      • Fedup

        Did U Ever Find out? I have the same concerm

  • Daniel Larson

    this post did not delete apps ffrom google that never use like newstand and google play music will not disable….i leave app then come right back on…?

    • Ariane

      I did what it said, i uninstalled updates but I also force stopped them. Then the disable button appeared. But *disclaimer* remember some apps are needed for the phone to work properly so disable apps with caution.