Most Android devices come with bloatware in some form or another. At best, nearly all of those apps do nothing but take up precious space. At worst, they get in your way of working productively and efficiently. Wouldn’t it be nice if getting rid of those apps was just a matter of uninstalling them?

Problem is, there is no easy way to completely rid yourself of bloat–unless you have a rooted device, in which case, completely jettisoning that bloatware is actually possible. But even if you don’t have a rooted device, all is not lost. I want to introduce you to some tools that will help you rid yourself of that bloatware–or hide it from sight on un-rooted devices.

Before I introduce you to the apps, I have to remind you to always have a full backup of your device and to use caution when deleting apps. Do not delete critical system apps–otherwise you’ll wind up with a non-functioning phone. End standardized warning.

The first three apps are for a rooted device; the last two are non-root apps.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: NoBloat Free

NoBloat Free (Figure A) allows you to successfully (and completely) remove preinstalled bloatware from your device. Getting rid of bloatware is just a matter of locating it in the System apps listing, tapping it, and selecting either Disable, Backup, Backup And Delete, or Delete Without Backup.

Figure A

There is also a paid version of this app ($1.99) that lets you blacklist apps so that when/if you install a new ROM, all blacklisted apps will be blocked from installation. It allows for batch actions, too. (The free version requires you to delete apps one at a time.)

2: System app remover

System app remover (Figure B) is a free bloatware removal tool (with ads) that makes removing system apps and bloatware go much faster. Simply open the app, grant root access, check off all the apps you want to remove, and tap the uninstall button. If you long-press an app listing, you’ll see the details of that app (in case you’re unsure whether it should be deleted). With System app remover, you can also show the install time, package name, and Apk path of an app, as well sort by type, name, size, time, and path. Once you’ve uninstalled an app, it will be located in the recycle bin. Just go back to the recycle bin and restore an app if something goes wrong.

Figure B

3: Root App Deleter

Root App Deleter (Figure C) offers a unique approach to dealing with system apps/bloatware. When you tap the System Apps button, the app will ask you if you want to go the Junior or Pro route. The Junior route only disables (hides) apps. The Pro route allows you to completely remove those apps (without backup). Clearly, the Junior route is the safest method. But if you’re 100% certain you want to delete a particular app (or set of apps), go the Pro route and have at the deleting of bloatware.

Figure C

To remove an app, locate it in the listing, tap it, and tap Uninstall. You will find all apps categorized into groups: 3rd Party App, Plugin/Wallpaper/Theme, Official Optimized App, OS Component, Keep It, OS Kernel, NO Touch, Unknown. Make sure you do not uninstall anything from the OS Kernel section.

4: Disable Bloatware

Disable Bloatware (Figure D) is our first non-root app. This app doesn’t delete bloatware–it merely hides it. Also, this app is really just a front end for a feature that is already available on your device. However, for those who want a more efficient means of tucking bloatware out of sight on a non-rooted device, this is what you want.

Figure D

To hide bloatware, open up Disable Bloatware, locate the app you want to hide, and then tap the Disable or Turn Off button (whichever appears). Once hidden, the app will appear in the HIDDEN tab. You can always go back and unhide an app should you decide you want to use it. The nice thing about Disable Bloatware is that it doesn’t actually delete system apps and bloatware, so the chances of disaster striking your device are much slimmer than actually removing anything.

5: System apps

Finally, we come to the method of hiding bloatware that doesn’t require the installation of an app (Figure E) . That’s right. Most Android phones have a built-in ability to hide system apps and bloatware. Again, you are not deleting anything with this route–you are only hiding it. This does help keep your App Drawer a bit more tidy, but it will not free up space.

Figure E

To undertake this method, open Settings, go to Apps, locate the app you want to hide, tap it, and then tap Disable or Turn Off (depending upon what you are offered). Like Disable Bloatware, if you need an app back, you simply reverse the process.

The persistence of bloatware

Considering it’s 2015, we shouldn’t be even having the discussion of bloatware. However, it seems this is an area of mobile devices that will never go away. If bloatware has become a serious issue with you, your best plan of attack is to root your device and permanently delete those apps. If rooting the device fills you with dread, you can still hide those apps. One way or another, you can keep that bloatware from getting in your way.

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