Sometimes, when an app has outlived its usefulness, you’ll want to uninstall it to make way for new ones. Uninstalling apps is easy enough: simply go to the Apps list, find the app, and hit the Uninstall button. But it’s not so easy to completely uninstall apps on Android.
Unfortunately, for those who like a clean file system, some apps will leave behind “orphaned files” after uninstallation on Android devices. These files were created by the app so that it can do its job if they weren’t properly deleted after the app was uninstalled. This can get annoying when your device’s system is slowly clogged up by files and folders that aren’t being used. The solution then is to find a way to reliably remove leftover app data.
You can reduce the amount of data that’s left behind after uninstallation by clearing the data. This won’t always be perfect, but it’s a good solution if you don’t want to install any additional apps to do so. It’s also important to note that this task is performed before the app is uninstalled.
To do this, go into your device’s Settings. (This can vary from device to device, but you can generally get there from the Settings app or by pulling down the notification tray and clicking the gear icon.) From here, select “Apps & notifications.”
Tap “App Info.”
Select the app you want to uninstall and tap Storage.
Select “Clear data” and/or “Clear cache.” Depending on the app, there may also be a “Manage data” option to clear additional settings and data. For instance, a browser app may have this option to delete bookmarks and stored passwords.
This will wipe the additional data the app has installed, which may give a cleaner uninstall.
When trying to figure out how to completely delete an app, you might have noticed some left over folders in your file manager app. This is another manual way to completely uninstall apps on Android.
You can either connect your device to a computer or use a file manager app. The app that comes pre-installed on your Android device works fine in most cases.
For me, File Manager is the default app. Whichever app you use, use the search feature to search for the name of the app you want to remove. Even just one unique word will help.
Only delete files and folders that you’re certain are only tied to the app you want to remove. It’s a good idea to back up your device before doing this just in case.
If you’d prefer to do a proper clean (or just want a simple app solution), SD Maid is a fantastic way to remove leftover app data on Android phones. It’s a general cleanup app with some options locked behind a premium paywall. The ability to clean up dead files, however, isn’t locked away.
As soon as you run SD Maid, you’ll be given several options. The one you want is the morbidly-named “CorpseFinder.” Tap the name to see what it does, or tap the circular arrow on the right to begin.
It’ll hunt for files left over by uninstalled apps. After the search, it’ll tell you if it has found any files. You can tap on the “CorpseFinder” button to view the files it believes are orphaned or press the bin icon on the right to throw them away.
On the file results screen you can tap individual files to delete them or hold-press to batch-select files to delete. This is particularly useful if you want to target specific files that CorpseFinder has detected.
If you want to exclude a file, make sure no other files are selected, then hold-press the file you want to keep and select the pin at the top.
ES File Explorer
ES File Explorer is a little more feature-packed than SD Maid. It was removed from Google Play Store due to legal issues with its parent company. However, the app itself is still amazing and actively updated. You just have to download it using a third party store, like APKPure. You’ll need to allow the installation of apps from unknown sources, though.
At its heart, it allows you to organize files on your device as well as on devices on the same network as you. It also comes with a durable Cleaner tool which helps clean up dud files. It can pick up on APKs that are no longer needed, advertisement junk, and thumbnail files. For the sake of what we’re trying to do, however, we’re going to focus on how to completely delete an app on Android using this tool.
To use it, after installing ES File Explorer, use the Cleaner tool.
The app will then scan your device for redundant files. Any files that have been left over from installed apps will appear under “Residual Junk” on the results page. Feel free to also browse what else ES File Explorer has found to really give your file system a scrub.
You can tap a result to see its details and tap the checkmarks on the right to select/unselect files for deletion. Once done, hit “Clean Now,” and it’ll get rid of those pesky files for you.
Having redundant files sitting around your system can be highly annoying. With these tricks you can completely uninstall apps on Android devices to make room for new ones. Of course, you can also stop specific apps from running in the background or block Internet access for certain apps instead of uninstalling them completely. If you have difficulty removing pre-installed bloatware on your phone, we have those fixes as well.