How to Uninstall Any Android App With ADB (Including System Apps and Bloatware)
Android devices come with lots of pre-installed apps, and while some of these can be useful, many can be intrusive or simply unwanted. Thankfully, you can unconditionally uninstall any Android app with ADB.
ADB is a powerful toolkit that expands your control over your Android device. Although ADB was intended for Android developers, you don’t need any programming knowledge to uninstall Android apps with it. In fact, it’s a breeze!
Uninstalling Android Apps With ADB
ADB, or Android Device Bridge, is a tool that enables you to run command codes on Android from your computer. ADB unlocks many possibilities through the power of command lines. Despite this, you can also use ADB for simple tasks like using ADB to transfer your clipboard, install apps remotely, and of course, uninstall them.
Uninstalling an app with ADB doesn’t need root permissions, and it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it. Other than allowing you to uninstall almost any app—including system apps and bloatware—you can also use ADB to remotely uninstall apps through wireless debugging.
Since ADB communicates with your device through code, you’ll need to refer to the app’s full package name, rather than the app’s more familiar brand name, to uninstall it (this will be something like “com.facebook.katana” instead of Facebook, for example).
Package names might sound like something that developers deal with, but the truth is you can easily find an app’s package name with ADB. Once you’ve got the package name, it takes a single command to uninstall the app for good.
1. Install ADB on Your Computer
You need to install ADB on your computer before you get to uninstall apps on your Android device. You can install it by simply downloading it and then launching your computer’s terminal in the ADB folder. An alternative method that installs ADB into your computer’s terminal is, well, using the terminal.
Download: SDK Platform Tools (ADB)
ADB is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you’re a Linux user, then you probably don’t need any guidance on how to install apps through the terminal. On the other platforms, you can use Scoop for Windows and Homebrew for Mac to install ADB. These two are command-line installers that allow you to use the terminal to install apps.
We’ll be using a Windows computer in this article. Once you’ve got Scoop installed, you can install ADB with a single command through Command Prompt.
Launch Command Prompt by searching for cmd in the Start menu, then type in the command below and press Enter on your keyboard.
scoop install adb
Scoop will automatically download and install ADB. If there are any missing dependencies, Scoop will ask for your permission to install them. Type in Y and press Enter to allow the installation.
Now ADB is installed and ready to serve you. The ADB package name is different on Homebrew and Linux. You can install ADB using Homebrew on a Mac with:
brew install android-platform-tools
and on Linux, you can use:
sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb
2. Connect ADB to Your Android Device
Naturally, you need to enable USB Debugging on your Android device to use ADB on it. This lets you connect to your device either through a USB cable or wirelessly.
If your device is mobile like a smartphone, then the easiest way is to plug it into your computer with a USB cable. If you’re dealing with a stationary device like an Android TV box, then it might be worth checking out wireless debugging with ADB.
Regardless of which method you choose to connect, you can get a list of connected devices by running the command below in the terminal:
This command displays the serial number for devices connected through USB, and the local IP address for wireless connections.
3. Find the App Package Name With ADB
Although most apps have simple labels, Android doesn’t use the apps’ labels to identify them. Because what if there are two apps with the same label? To prevent potential confusion and misunderstanding, Android uses unique package names to identify apps. For instance, Google Maps shows up as Maps in your app list, but its real name is com.google.android.apps.maps.
Fortunately, you can use ADB in the same terminal window to find an app’s package name. With ADB connected to your device, run the command below to enter the ADB shell:
You should now see your device’s name next to the blinking indicator. Now run the command below to get a list of all the installed packages on your Android device:
pm list packages
The command calls on the ADB package manager to list all the packages installed on your Android device. The sheer length of this list—and the packages that you’ve never heard of—goes to show that there are tons of apps installed on your device that you don’t even know about. Most of these are background system apps that silently keep your Android device functioning.
You can uninstall any of the listed Android packages with ADB, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Most of these apps are vital for your system to work, and uninstalling them can potentially impair your device’s function. Uninstall system apps only if you know what you’re doing!
The full list of installed packages on your Android device might grant you a revelation, but it’s not very efficient for finding a specific app’s package name. You can use the command below to filter the results:
pm list packages |grep chrome
This command filters the package list to only include packages that have chrome in their names. Replace chrome with your app’s name or the developer’s name to find the package for it.
4. Uninstall the App
Now that you have the app’s package name, the app is at your complete mercy. If you’re still in the ADB shell, exit it by typing exit and pressing Enter. Then input the package name in the command below and run it:
adb uninstall com.spotify.lite
This command uninstalls Spotify Lite from the connected Android device. Replace com.spotify.lite with the victim app’s package name, and it’ll be gone once ADB outputs Success.
Goodbye Bloatware, Hello Freedom!
Android users have a lot more freedom thanks to its open-source nature, but still, Android does have some safety restrictions. You can’t uninstall system apps and most pre-installed apps on your Android device without extra steps. ADB is one tool that can break this restriction. It’s your phone after all, and you’re the master of this ship.
The best thing about uninstalling Android apps with ADB is that you don’t need to root your device for it. All you need to do is to connect to your device, find the app’s package name, and then run the uninstall command. Now that you know how to do all that, grant the bloatware their last words, and drop the guillotine