There seems to be confusion regarding the behavior of pm uninstall from the ADB shell, see also here and here.

Question: What configuration files does pm uninstall write to, is it /data/system/packages.xml, /data/system/users/0/package-restrictions.xml or both? Are there any additional files?

Note: This questions specifically concerns the behavior of pm uninstall, not pm disable. Furthermore, it concerns the behavior on unrooted devices.

Motivation: Uninstalling the wrong apps doing pm uninstall can result in a soft-brick/boot loop. Therefore, reversing the effects of pm uninstall can be the easiest way out of such problem, especially if other methods risk wiping data that needs to be rescued.

  • 2
    I think the question title should better be "What EXACTLY does pm uninstall do when uninstalling a system app". Because on regular apps it doesn't matter if your device is rooted or not, the app would simply be uninstalled. Also on system apps I don't think pm would be able to uninstall (delete) it even with root permissions.
    – Robert
    Jun 22, 2022 at 15:58
  • 1
    ...this bit of information should actually be part of an answer. Also, the solution should be specific to Android 9.0 or at least include it.
    – srhslvmn
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:00
  • I don't think that somebody exactly has the answer to this question. But you can try it out yourself. get yourself a rooted emulator, uninstall a system app as you did on your Samsung phone and then compare the xml files before and after uninstalling the system app. A possible emulator for that purpose would be Genymotion as it provides images for different Android versions.
    – Robert
    Jun 22, 2022 at 16:14
  • curious about what is the difference between pm block vs hide vs disable vs disable-user vs uninstall for system apps
    – alecxs
    Jun 24, 2022 at 11:56
  • 1
    yes, homework for someone with too many free time hehe.. actually it's java/kotlin ;)
    – alecxs
    Jun 24, 2022 at 17:01


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