HOW TO: Delete System Applications On Rooted Phones

This tutorial shows you how to remove system applications that come installed on your phone, or ROM of your choice that you don’t actually want.

Notes

  1. If the ROM you are using has the Read/Write via Overlay Filesystem on then there’s no need to boot into recovery
  2. If you’ve used the S-OFF hack to enable full read/write access to your system partition then there’s no need to boot into recovery
  3. If you’re using the latest Amon RA Recovery, then you can just use the “Mounts” option to mount the system partition

Requirements

  1. A rooted phone
  2. The adb driver setup on your computer – how to

Video Tutorial

This video shows you how easy it is to do everything below!

Making the System Partition Writable

This change isn’t permanent, meaning that when you leave recovery mode your system partition will revert back to read-only.  It’s only temporarily writable so that you can get rid of those unwanted apps.

  1. Connect your Desire via USB cable
  2. Open the Command Prompt/Terminal on your computer (Start Menu > Run > Cmd)
  3. In the command prompt window type: adb reboot recovery
    Your phone should restart in recovery mode
  4. Type: adb shell
    The first character in the command prompt will change to a #
  5. Type: mount -o rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
    This mounts the system partition and gives you read and write access to it

Backing Up Applications

Before you start deleting apps, I’d strongly recommend backing them up onto your computer first.  Here’s how:

  1. Type: exit
    This leaves shell mode
  2. Type: adb shell ls system/data
    You should now see a list of all the apps (.apk files) in your system folder
  3. For whichever apps you want to backup type:
    adb pull system/app/<full_name_of_app.apk> <full_name_of_app.apk>
    where <full_name_of_app.apk> is the name that was listed in step 2
  4. If you look on your computer in the directory that Command Prompt is pointing to e.g. C:/Users/Ash then you’ll see a copy of that .apk file that you just backed up

Deleting Apps

Note: PLEASE make sure you’ve backed up any applications before deleting them.
Also, be sure that you’re not deleting any important system apps like Rosie (the HTC Sense framework!).  Deleting things like Quick Office, Peep, Teeter, Facebook etc is fine.

  1. Enter shell mode again by typing: adb shell
  2. Type: cd system/app
    This takes you into the system/app folder
  3. Type: ls
    This will show you a listing of the apps (.apk files) in the folder
  4. Type: rm <full_name_of_app.apk>
    where <full_name_of_app.apk> is the name that was listed in step 2
    This deletes the application permanently from your phone
  5. If in step #3 there was a <full_name_of_app>.odex file as well as .apk then delete that too using: rm <full_name_of_app.odex>

Rebooting

Once you’re done deleting your applications you can restart your phone and if everything went well then it will start normally and you’ll find that the deleted applications no longer show up in your app drawer.

Restoring Applications

If for whatever reason you decide that you want to reinstall those system applications you backed up, you can do the following:

  1. Make your system partition writable using the steps in Making the System Partition Writable
  2. Locate the apks you backed up before deleting
  3. Type adb push <full_name_of_app.apk> system/app/<full_name_of_app.apk>
ypmount -o remount,rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
  • I ‘ve been looking for it for long time. THANKS! GRAZIE! (is not an insult, in italian it means “thanks” 🙂 )

  • I would recommend using Titanium Backup to freeze system apps before removing them, just to make sure there are no unexpected results. I found the removing Peep breaks the People app when selecting Updates & Events for a contact.

    A great guide, but use with caution.

  • Evo

    I have an unbranded HTC Desire rooted using unRevoked. Now I tried this method but none of the commands work from backing up apps onwards. It doesn’t give me the list of apps when I want to backup before deletion, nor it gives me a listing of apks in system/data folder when I give the Is command. I am on Win7 64bit and have the latest ADB Driver btw. Anybody have a clue what’s wrong, and how to fix it?

  • I can’t restore them. After adb push, the apk file is there, but it doesn’t get installed. Any clue?

  • Moreover, now updates via OTA don’t work because the odex files are missing :(. Any solution?

  • Well, the restore doesn’t work because odex files are required, and I didn’t backup them. Please, could you provide me a copy of HtcFootprints.odex HtcFootprintsWidget.odex, NewsReader.odex and install_flash_player.odx ?

  • Neo

    yo! i have problems here… when i write in cmd ls system/app …give me anser no such file or directory… maybe can help me?

  • Hi
    When I tipe
    mount -o rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
    it show me a
    Operation not permitted so I cant delete anything because attributes are still read only mode
    Please help

  • Hi Guys,

    i folled the remove app instructions to get rid of rubbish like Twitter and facebook. now my phone does not boot. it gets to the Telstra load screen and reboots and does the same thing. So it stuck in a loop! Major problem as its my business phone. Any ideas??

    Thanks heaps.

    Nick.

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  • Ivan

    Followed the instructions. After the ‘mount’ command, I get “Operation not permitted”

  • jonhjonh

    in case anyone still needs this :
    there is actually a MAJOR typo error in this tutorial, which causes people following it exactly to get the error “no such file or directory”:

    at step 2 of the back up “Type: adb shell ls system/data
    You should now see a list of all the apps (.apk files) in your system folder” –> you should NOT type “system/data”, INSTEAD type “system/app”.

    Hope this helps!

  • go_odTASte

    Cant get C:/>android PLEASE help