How to: Disable cell phone "crapware" (unneeded or unwanted programs) from your Android phone, without rooting - Easy steps, highly recommended. Does not require software. This article has been modified and improved, 2015.06.
My AT&T (ATT) phone ships with dozens of add-on programs that I do not need or want and I am sure your phone has the same problem. These programs run in the background, occupying memory and they pester for updates.
Short of rooting the phone, the programs cannot be uninstalled, but some can be disabled. With these steps, many apps can be permanently disabled and the steps are reversible. Here are the benefits:
- They do not occupy memory
- They will quit checking for updates
- They will quit notifying you
- They will not appear in the All Apps menu
Illustrated - an HTC One M8 from AT&T, running Android 4.4.2 (and Lollipop 5.01).
Your Android phone may look different, but the steps should be similar.
1. Open the Settings Screen, choose Apps.
(Version Galaxy S4 shows "Application Settings")
2. In the Apps screen, scroll (horizontally), changing from the "Downloaded" screen to the "Running" screen. On my phone, switch between the menus by flicking horizontally on the top ribbon-bar area.
Note: With Marshmellow (Android 6.x), this step is no longer needed. Jump immediately to Step 4.
Review the Running apps; these are programs running and occupying memory.
Continue Scrolling to the "ALL" Apps screen (illustrated above).
The next steps can only be done from the ALL screen.
4. Choose an unwanted application.
If the app allows, and many do, disable the app by:
a) Uncheck "Show Notifications"
b) Click Disable
c) Click Force Stop. It will prompt for confirmation.
(Verizon has slightly different prompts, same steps; see below)
A Verizon Galaxy S4 screen looks like this:
Verizon Galaxy Steps, in this order, for each app:
* Uncheck "Show Notifications"
* Click Turn Off
* Click Force Stop
- You must be in the "All" screen to make these changes.
- Choose with care which programs to disable. Do not disable Android OS-looking apps.
- Some applications cannot be stopped in this manner. For example, HTC Blinkfeed did not allow these choices and it would not allow me to chose "Disable". If you can't chose "Disable", it is pointless to attempt anything else; it will come back no matter what your choice.
- Some applications may be chained or called by other applications and you will see this by examining the app in the "Running" applications. Start with the master, or top-level app. With this said, I have left the chained applications alone. A good example would be ATT Hotspots.
- These steps "Disable" the application - but sadly does not un-install. But with these steps, at least they do not occupy system RAM and they will quit bugging you for updates.
Android Live Wallpapers
AT&T Address book
AT&T FamilyMap (my children were horrified at the very thought)
AT&T Hotspots (never use)
AT&T Mobile Locate (I use Google's service)
AT&T Navigator (I use Google Maps)
Browser Bar (what a horrible program, what a horrible idea)
Bubbles Live wallpaper
City ID (a subscription service installed on all ATT and Verizon phones)
Data Dashboard Widgit
DropBox for HTC Sense
Google+ for HTC Sense
Games (W Games -- all require money. Why can't I play snakes?)
Holo Spiral Live Wallpaper
HTC Recommend (wow, you can recommend your favorite app)
Internet (Browser) shipped with HTC; I use Chrome
Keeper (who wants to type a password to lookup other passwords?)
Market Feedback Agent (I'm sure I don't want this)
Mobile Data Widgit
Music Visualization Live Wallpapers (my screen goes blank after 30 seconds...)
Polaris Office 5
Phase Beam Live Wallpaper (arg! Another live wallpaper...)
Power dashboard widgit
Twitter for HTC Sense
Wifi Hotspot Widgit
Anything that you stop, can be restarted by reversing the steps and then rebooting the phone (many of these are services).
Dear AT and T,
Please let me uninstall this stuff. It makes me so angry that I have to fight this and all I want is control. A Google Nexus phone is looking better and better.