I need to get rid of the system bar on Android 4.1 tablets since the tablets will be in a commercial/retail environment and be used for business. My app will be the only app used on the tablet and it needs as much screen real estate as possible for what we're trying to do. I have searched already and I see that there are ways to do it on a rooted tablet, however since this will be in a business and deployed to several hundred or thousand businesses, I cannot have all the tablets rooted for legal and security issues. (Would I really have issues legally though if I were to root them?)

I know that you can dim the status bar and make the buttons dots but that really isn't optimal.

If there is no way to get rid of it, is it possible to change the status bar icons and functionality? I ask this because our app has a status bar on top and we could possibly move it to the bottom and change the icons and functionality of the status bar to match the app's status bar so no screen real estate is lost.

I have read that 4.2 adds some fullscreen functionality for apps. Is this true? Can the status bar be hidden in 4.2 as opposed to 4.1?

  • The status bar is part of the Android! The only thing I can think of in mind, is some kind of kiosk like launcher - that covers the entire screen to hide it....
    – t0mm13b
    Mar 14, 2013 at 16:29
  • Check questions regarding kiosk-mode.
    – ale
    Mar 14, 2013 at 17:13
  • Ever heard about "full screen mode"? I have several apps using that, and when running in that mode you don't see the status bar. Even with Android 2.3 already ;)
    – Izzy
    Jul 10, 2013 at 17:37
  • You need to be rooted for an actual full screen mode, as discussed below, and I would rather not root the tablets I have since they will be used for business. If there is some other way to get rid of the bottom status bar with the back and home buttons on tablets, a link to more info would be appreciated.
    – V B
    Jul 10, 2013 at 21:10

2 Answers 2


No, the bottom system bar (that's the one with the home, back, and recent buttons) can't be hidden on a stock device without rooting it and using a custom system image. The soft home button is very important because it gives you a way to get back to the home screen that can't be overridden by apps: this includes getting out of an unresponsive or broken app.

On 4.0 and above an app author can temporarily hide both bars, but touching the screen or pressing any hard key (including volume) will bring them back, so that doesn't prevent people leaving the app. (And quite right! It would be crazy for stock Android to let one app take over the whole system.)

The SYSTEM_UI_FLAG_HIDE_NAVIGATION is a new flag that requests the navigation bar hide completely. Be aware that this works only for the navigation bar used by some handsets (it does not hide the system bar on tablets). The navigation bar returns to view as soon as the system receives user input. As such, this mode is useful primarily for video playback or other cases in which the whole screen is needed but user input is not required.


It's worth noting that a full kiosk mode (not letting the user leave the app at all) has been announced for Android L, but the app has to be a device administrator to enter this mode.

  • Dan, Moon Reader hides the status bar all the time for me, even on unrooted devices -- so it must be possible somehow. Maybe that changed with some 4.x, I didn't check that.
    – Izzy
    Mar 14, 2013 at 19:19
  • I think there's a bit of confusion about the term "status bar". I think the OP is interested in hiding both the bar at the top (with the notification icons and clock) and the bar on the bottom (with the soft home/back/recent keys), on a device with no hard keys. Moon Reader only hides the top bar, not the soft keys.
    – Dan Hulme
    Mar 14, 2013 at 20:27
  • That is correct: I was only referring to the "notification bar", not to the soft keys. But the soft keys most likely will be needed in the "kiosk app" itself, at least concerning the "back" and the "menu" button. Full kiosk-mode apps would take care to disable/re-route the "unwanted" home/multi-tasking buttons, as Al already hinted to (and which is why I added the corresponding tag).
    – Izzy
    Mar 14, 2013 at 22:54
  • Thanks for the comments. I do not want the user to be able to get out of my app. The sole purpose of the tablet will be to use my application and the added screen real estate would be ideal for the app. The app has its own back button as well and the menu button isn't needed. Would I be able to recompile Android with this functionality included? Would this require me to keep it rooted?
    – V B
    Mar 15, 2013 at 1:21
  • Probably, but it depends on the specific device. Once you'd installed the new system image, I imagine you'd only need it to still be rooted if you want to do the update again (to update the app, or because of a bug). Remember you wouldn't be able to turn on USB debugging or access any settings. (Even if your app has a button to get into the Settings app, you wouldn't be able to get back to your app from it.)
    – Dan Hulme
    Mar 15, 2013 at 9:48

The quicker solution might be to use something like sitekiosk for android, or kioware for android. Jelly Bean is fine and they give you a lot of options to customize.

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