Screenshot of apps on an android phone

When you buy a new phone, it comes with a suite of apps. Some of these are essential to make the basic functions work. The manufacturer (e.g. Sony) and the vendor (e.g. Vodafone) may add apps with extra functionality or which link through to their other services. You may find some of these useful, others less so.

One of the apps will be the store which invites you to buy or download additional apps to do everything from manage your banking through to whiling away time in the dentist’s waiting room.

As time goes by, you use some apps but others stay around unnoticed. Things may get worse when you replace your phone and the vendor (or a friend) offers to transfer everything from your old phone to your new one.

As time goes on, apps are using more disk space and your phone is working harder running apps in the background. You may find yourself having to shutdown and swtich back on occasionally to keep things working well.

My tip is to periodically have a look at the apps on your phone and do some housekeeping.

What’s on your home screen?

Screenshot of apps on an iPhone

The most visible place for your apps will be on your home screen – which may well be split into multiple pages. When you install a new app, it is likely to get added to your home screen. Some apps are put on the first page but many will just get added to the end of the list. This makes your home screen a good place to start housekeeping.

If you find an app there that you do not need, hold your finger down on it until you get a context menu. On an iPhone, you get a menu including an option to remove the app. Click there to get the option to remove from your home screen or delete the app. Android phones give options from the app (e.g. send a message) with the management options as icons. The cross asks you to confirm removal of the app. To remove it from the home screen, you need to drag it to the Remove area – normally at the top of the screen.

The downside of removing apps is that they do not leave a hole, so you may need to do some rearranging to get your favourite apps into the ‘right’ place.

If you are going to get serious, you need to look at all your apps, including those which are not on the home screen.

Viewing the apps on your Android phone

There are two routes to get a list of apps on an Android phone:

  • Through Google Play
  • Via Settings

Google Play will only give you access to apps managed through the play store, while Settings will list them all. If you go through Settings, you can disable an app (so it does not start automatically) or force an app to stop (useful if it has frozen or is otherwise misbehaving).

Using Google Play

Manage Apps screen on Play Store with option to delete an installed app as explained by Nepeta Consulting

Open the Google Play app and tap on the profile icon to open the menu. You want Manage Apps and Devices. Once in, tap on Manage to see your app list. Tap on the checkbox to select one or more apps and you can then tap on the bin to remove them from your phone.

The app will remain on your account: you can view not installed apps with options to delete them completely or download them back to your phone. Note that when you uninstall an app it may delete off the associated data so think about this before you do so.

Google does keep an eye on apps you have not used for a long time and may remove permissions and temporary files. This is helpful but it is a good idea to remove apps you will not use again.

Using Settings

Head to Settings > Apps & notifications > App info. There you will find a list of the apps installed on your phone and the space they are using. Click on an app to get further information – including the permissions you have granted it. If the app was installed via the app store, you will get the option to uninstall it. Other apps will only allow you to disable them.

If you disable an app, it will remove temporary files and it will not start up automatically. Disabling does not remove your data.

Be a bit careful when disabling apps you do not recognise as these may be used by other apps. The good news is that if you do make a mistake, you can sort it out in the same place.

Managing apps on an iPhone

If you have a modern iPhone, swipe from the home screen until you find the App library. This lists all your apps by category. There you can manage individual apps in the same was as on the main home screen – hold down over the app and select your action.

You can see a list of apps you have purchased/ downloaded from the App store (click on the profile picture), but you cannot manage iPhone apps from there.

In conclusion

Tidying up the apps installed on your phone is unlikely to free vast amounts of space. It can reduce the background activity on your phone which will save you memory and strain on your battery. You also reduce the risk of introducing a virus onto your phone.