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I lack proper keywords to google efficiently to know how to manually remove an app. Basically I want to uninstall Chrome, but I also want to know deeper about Android system rather than rely on a third-party app like NoBloat. I suspect one just need to delete /data/app/com.android.chrome-2 folder, but I'm not sure if there is more to be removed too.

How to manually remove an app?

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To manually remove an app, you'll need to (manually) delete all of the following items:

  • The app's package, usually in /data/app/<package name>. For system apps, delete /system/app/<something>, /system/priv-app/<something> or /vendor/app/<something> instead, depending on where it resides. The folder and file name are not necessarily the same as package name for system/vendor apps, though.
  • The app's installation information, /data/system/packages.xml. This is very complicated as an app may define resources that can be used by other apps. Be sure to remove all related keys and leave unrelated keys intact, or you can mess the files up.

Additionally, these items may be removed, but they'll be pruned if some or all items listed above are manually removed or found missing. The automatic pruning usually happens during system booting.

  • The app's Dalvik cache, in /data/dalvik-cache, usually .odex or .oat files
  • The app's data, in /data/data/<package_name>
  • The app's data in external storage, in /sdcard/Android/data/<package_name>
  • The app's "simplified information" in /data/system/packages.list, which will be pruned if the app is gone from packages.xml

Sometimes you'll see some log in /data/system/uid_error.log if the above items are pruned by Android.

  • Thanks for the answer. I find a related question here, you may want to add to your post: What does the /data/system folder store and its significance?. (Put this as a separate comment so I can delete it later) – Ooker Aug 30 '18 at 12:15
  • what happens if I mess up /data/system/packages.xml? Also, why do all APK files in /data/app/<package name> have the same name base.apk? – Ooker Aug 30 '18 at 12:16
  • @Ooker I'm not sure. It usually gets rebuilt automatically but you may lose some app data. – iBug Aug 30 '18 at 12:17
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Root your phone to uninstall system apps. Those are pre-installed apps, it is integrated to the android system, so rooting is necessary if you want to remove them.

  • I have already rooted it. I just want to know that delivering that folder is sufficient or not. – Ooker Aug 30 '18 at 9:26

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