How to remove TouchWiz from your Samsung phone. Three ways to disable TouchWiz on Samsung smartphone. (See all Android tips.)

TouchWiz is the custom UI Samsung places over Android on its smartphones and tablets. It's improved a whole lot over the years, but it can still be frustrating for those who prefer a plain Android experience. In this article we show you how to tone down TouchWiz, reduce the number of interactions with Samsung's preinstalled apps, and give your Samsung Galaxy device a Google Nexus look and feel. Also see: How to remove Upday.

The methods outlined below range from easy to difficult, so you should try them in the order we have written them. But you get nothing for nothing, and to truly dispense with TouchWiz you may be forced to go for method three: rooting your phone and flashing a custom ROM.

My own preference is to use the Google Now launcher as outlined in method two. Do let me know in the comments below if you have a better way of doing this! (See also, how to remove Google Now Searchbar on Android.)

How to disable TouchWiz on Samsung smartphone

• Factory reset the phone, and do not accept Samsung updates during setup

• In Application Manager clear the data and cache for any Samsung preinstalled apps, such as S Planner

• Install the free Google Now Launcher

• Root your phone, create a custom recovery, then flash a new ROM

How to disable TouchWiz on Samsung smartphone: Reset your phone, and disable individual features

This will not remove TouchWiz, but depending on what it is about Samsung's software that irks you, it may remove the problem. If you really want rid of TouchWiz, move on to the next section. Also see: Best Samsung phones 2016: What is the difference between Galaxy Note, Galaxy S, Galaxy A and Galaxy J?

First you need to factory reset your Samsung phone. Go to the Settings page, and then head to 'Backup and reset'. At the very bottom of the screen select Factory data reset, then choose Reset device. All data will be erased from the device memory, so make sure you have backed up all the files and documents you need. You will be able to reinstall contacts, emails and apps by re-synching with your Google account.

Once you have hit Reset device, your Samsung phone will reboot and reset. To avoid the worst of Samsung's TouchWiz excesses, you need to discipline yourself not to accept Samsung updates (pictured below), and not to sign up for a Samsung account. You may find that the behaviour of TouchWiz that previously bothered you is now absent. Also see: Best Android phones 2016 UK.

Samsung Software update

One of the things that we know bothers TouchWiz users is the constant updates from Samsung's S Planner calender app. We'll tell you how to get rid of this: the same process will work for any of Samsung's apps.

First, trash the icon from your phone's home screen, and disable the widget from that list. Here's the main thing: go into Settings, Applications, Application Manager, find the S Planner app. Force stop it, disable it, clear the data and the cache.

You will now be free of TouchWiz calender alerts, and that may be enough to make TouchWiz bearable for you. If not, read on. (See also: Best smartphones of 2016: 20 best phones you can buy in the UK.)

How to disable TouchWiz on Samsung smartphone: Install the Google Now Launcher

This is the most you can do without Rooting your phone, and in our experience it hits the spot. But if you really want to get rid of TouchWiz, scroll down to the next section.

A custom Launcher allows you to customise your homescreen - and in this case, to get rid of the worst excesses of Samsung's TouchWiz overlay. Put simply, a Launcher is an app that lets you change how your Android home screen looks and works.

Simply go to the Play Store and install the launcher you most like the look of. Some of the best custom launchers for Android include Action Launcher, Apex Launcher, Aviate, and Nova Launcher. There are paid-for and free launchers.

The free Google Now Launcher is available on all devices with Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or later. Google Now Launcher is limited: in truth it is a means of making Google Now central to your usage of your device. But if you like to use Google Now and you dislike the added faff that is TouchWiz, this could be the launcher for you. And as it is free and guaranteed not to mess with your Android, why not give it a whirl?

Or find a Launcher that better suits your needs. Simply browse our list of the best custom Launchers for Android - there is bound to be one to suit your needs.

How to disable TouchWiz on Samsung smartphone: Root phone and flash a new custom ROM

Okay, this is it. The surefire way of losing TouchWiz. But it's not for beginners.

Our third method for disabling TouchWiz requires rooting your phone and flashing a new custom ROM (in common parlance, getting rid of Samsung's version of Android, and installing another one written by a third-party). All the usual disclaimers apply: once you have done this, you won't be able to go back, although you will be able to install one of the many ROMs available for Android devices. It may also affect your smartphone's warranty.

But done correctly, this could turn your bloated TouchWiz Samsung into a non-TouchWiz Android device. And for free.

Before you begin you should note that you cannot flash any old ROM on to your Samsung Galaxy phone or tablet - that device must be supported by the ROM. Depending on how new and how popular is your device, you may find many or just a few custom ROMs are available.

As an example, one that caught our eye for the Samsung Galaxy S7 is KryxOS, which purports to be a fully stock debloated Touchwiz ROM. "There are LOTS of plans for this ROM including a special "Google" edition that will aim to completely remove Samsung's cr*p and make it feel more "Nexus" like," writes the developer.

Before you begin you should consult our guide on How to root Android. The process will in essence involve rooting your device, downloading Odin or TWRP to create a custom recovery and then wiping the existing ROM and flashing the new one. You will need a web-connected PC and a Micro-USB cable, and should ensure your phone or tablet has plenty of charge. 

Rooting your phone might seem like a scary thing to do but it’s actually quite simple and straight forward. There are a number of downloadable tools which will perform the root to choose from. Not all tools will support all Android devices so check if your device is supported. Some popular ones include SuperOneClick, Unlock Root, Z4Root and Universal AndRoot.

Rooting does vary from device to device so check out XDA for help and advice and Android Central's large list of devices. It's best to do a bit of research on your model before proceeding – check whether it's easy to reverse the process or not. If you're happy with the risks and the process, then here's how to root your Android smartphone or tablet.

First back up your device. Just in case something does go wrong it’s best to back up to avoid losing important data such as contacts and media files.

Now find, download and install your chosen rooting software. We used SuperOneClick.

SuperOneClick download

Install the driver/software for the handset on your PC. Depending on the make and model this can sometimes be done by plugging the phone in via a USB cable or a download from the internet.

Enable USB debugging in Developer Options. If this isn't in your Settings menu, go to Settings, About device, Software info and tap the Build number seven times.

USB debugging

Connect the Samsung phone to your PC with a Micro-USB cable.

Run your chosen rooting software and in most cases press the Root button. The software might ask you to select the device that you wish to root. Do so and click Continue.

Handset Selection

The software will perform the rooting process which might involve several reboots of your device. If the rooting was successful you should receive a notification on your PC. You now have root access to your handset’s system.

  SuperOneClick Root

Now you have a rooted phone, we want to install our custom ROM. This is a two-step process: the first step is to create a custom recovery, which you can do by installing the TWRP Manager app on your phone, opening it and selecting Install TWRP. Select your device from the device list and then tap on Install Recovery. The file will download and be installed automatically.

Note that the remainder of this walkthrough was originally written with reference to installing the Google Play Edition ROM on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Ensure that whichever ROM you choose is supported by your Samsung device.

Download the Google Play Edition .zip file.

Drag-and-drop the downloaded Google Play Edition .zip into your phone storage (we recommend adding it to a new ROMS folder), then switch off your phone. Make sure it's disconnected from your PC.

Now boot it into Recovery Mode by holding in the Power, Volume Up, and Home buttons until 'Recovery Booting' appears in the top left corner. Release the power button but keep holding the Volume Up and the Home button until 'TeamWin' appears on the screen.

Click on Wipe, Advanced Wipe. Select 'Dalvik Cache', 'System', and 'Cache'. Move the slider to complete the wipe.

Now take one step back, and click on Install. Scroll down to the ROMS folder you made on your phone. Click on the Google Play Edition .zip file, then slide to install the ROM. Once the install process is completed, you will have a Google Play Edition Samsung phone. (See all Android tips.)