We’ve all got apps that we’d like to get rid of; whenever we get a new smartphone or tablet, the temptation is always to head straight to the Google Play or App store and download everything in sight, like a kid in a digital candy shop. Whether you're trying to get rid of bloatware already on your device or uninstall apps you no longer use, here’s our guide on how to delete unwanted apps for good. See also: The best Android games.
Before we launch into this guide, it's worth pointing out that not every app on a device can be uninstalled or deleted. Manufacturers can choose which apps to pre-install on a phone or tablet and might not allow you to completely remove some things. If you try and delete an app and it simply says 'disable' not 'uninstall', it can't be deleted.
What does disabling an app do?
If you're only given the option to disable an app, it will remain on your device therefore taking up storage but won't be allowed to run and take up system resources. The app is essentially made dormant but can be enabled again should you want to use it.
How to permanently delete unwanted apps on Android
First, go into your device settings.This is traditionally a cog wheel or sometimes a screwdriver and spanner icon. You'll find it in the app menu or commonly in the dropdown notification bar.
Once you're there, find and tap Apps which is usually found in the Device section. By default, it should open onto a list of your downloaded apps. We’d advise staying in this tab in order to minimise the risk of accidentally deleting a crucial system process.
Read: Best kids' apps 2015.
Next, scroll down the list of apps until you find the one you’d like to remove. Tap to open it, select the uninstall button at the top of the page and confirm the deletion. This will remove the app from your phone or tablet.
Even if you delete an app from one device, the Google Play store will still retain it on your list of downloaded apps, should you wish to reacquire it. To delete this record as well, navigate to the Google Play store, open the navigation tab in the top-left hand corner, select the ‘My apps’ option, and swipe left to move from the list of just apps installed on that device to the ‘all’ tab. See also: Best Android apps for new smartphones and tablets.
This will take you to a master list of all your downloaded apps, where you can simply find the app you wish to delete and click on the cross in the right-hand corner to erase it from the list.
Delete apps from the app menu
On some phones, namely Samsung's Galaxy range, you might be able to delete apps from the app menu. If you open the menu from the homescreen, look for Edit somewhere - it's usually in the top right corner butmight also be in a menu which you swipe in from the side.
Once you've hit edit, the apps which you can uninstall will be marked with a minus or sometimes a cross. Select the one you want to uninstall and follow the intructions to complete the process.
How to permanently delete unwanted apps on iOS
Removing apps from your Apple device is simple: just long-press on the app’s icon until it starts jiggling around, and a little cross appears at the corner. Tap the cross, confirm the deletion, and the app goes bye-bye. Press the home button to restore your app icons to normal, non-jiggly functionality.
Note that this will only work with apps downloaded from the App Store, and not for Apple’s pre-installed software like Newsstand or Safari.
If you sync your device to a Mac or PC on a regular basis, you’ll also have to remove these apps from your iTunes library in order to prevent the deleted apps re-downloading whenever you sync. In order to do this, open iTunes on your Mac or PC and go to the apps section of your library. Find the app you deleted from your device, right-click it, and select delete.
iTunes will, however, still remember that you’ve purchased them, and list them in the 'Purchased’ section of your account. Removing them permanently is less than easy – in fact, it’s currently impossible. If you’re worried about friends or family uncovering embarrassing app downloads, the best solution is the relatively low-tech option of simply signing out of your iTunes account before handing over your device.