Disabling factory installed Applications on an Android Phone without root

If you ever have used an Android phone I am pretty sure that you all experienced the following: Android Phones usually come with dozens of pre-installed applications. If you happen to receive your phone from a carrier it might even come with more carrier – centric applications which you might or might not like. The Android application managers offers the ability to disable most of these apps similar to how you uninstall applications acquired through the Google Play Store.

Disable Built - in Application
Disable Built – in Application

Short Remark: If the application came factory pre-installed and meanwhile has received updates through the Play Store the “Disable” button will probably be labelled with: “Uninstall Updates”

In contrast, the manufacturer may turn off the “Disable” functionality for certain system applications. As you can see on the next screenshot, the application cannot be disabled. The button is greyed out.

Application Management - Disabling Application not allowed
Application Management – Disabling Application not allowed

Fortunately, a way still exist to disable those apps without rooting your mobile phone using Android’s Debug Bridge.

  • Connect your device via USB and fire up a Terminal
  • Check that your device is connected using adb devices
  • Connect to a shell on your mobile phone using adb shell
  • pm list packages will show the package names of all installed applications on the phone (including built-in applications)

shell@C6903:/ $ pm list packages
package:com.google.android.ears
package:com.sonyericsson.cameraextension.permission
package:ch.admin.meteoswiss
package:com.android.defcontainer
package:com.sonymobile.cameracommon
package:bbc.mobile.news.ww
package:com.audible.application
package:com.sonyericsson.orangetheme
package:com.android.phone
package:com.sonyericsson.initialbootsetup
package:com.mobisystems.fileman
package:com.sonyericsson.unsupportedheadsetnotifier
package:com.sonyericsson.providers.protectedmedia

To disable any app use the block command. Even those with Disable turned off can be disabled.
For example to disable Sony’s What’s New Application:

pm block com.sonymobile.advancedwidget.entrance

To turn off the small app widgets found in the recent app launcher execute the following commands:

shell@C6903:/ $ pm block com.sony.smallapp.launcher
Package com.sony.smallapp.launcher new blocked state: true
shell@C6903:/ $ pm block com.sony.smallapp.app.widget
Package com.sony.smallapp.app.widget new blocked state: true

Reboot and you’re done.

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