How To: Uninstall Malware from Your Android Device

Uninstall Malware from Your Android Device

How to Uninstall Malware from Your Android Device

Let's say you got a little careless while installing apps from unknown sources, and now your Android device has been infected by malware. Or perhaps your friend has come to you for help after they had haphazardly installed random apps until their phone was filled with popups and garbage like that.

Regardless of how things got to this point, uninstalling malware can be a big ordeal. When a phone is loaded up with malware apps, the interface is incredibly laggy and slow, and in some instances, malware can even prevent you from accessing normal system menus. So to bypass all of these frustrations, I have a simple trick for you, which I'll go over in more detail below.

Step 1: Boot into Safe Mode

Instead of struggling to bypass screen-jacking malware like the $500 "FBI" Moneypak Virus—or even working around poor performance due to several malware apps being installed on the system, for that matter—the first thing you should do is boot into Safe Mode to disable all third-party apps, including any malware.

Depending on your device, the process of booting into Safe Mode may vary. For most devices, simply bring up the power menu and long-press the "Power Off" entry, then you'll be asked if you'd like to boot into Safe Mode. Press "OK" on this popup, then the phone or tablet should automatically reboot.

If the malware is somehow suppressing the power menu on your device, the best thing to do would be to power the phone off manually or perform a hard reset. For devices with removable batteries, this is simple—just pull out the battery, then reinsert it. If your phone does not have a removable battery, try pressing and holding the power button for 10 seconds to trigger a hard reset. If this doesn't work, press and hold the power and volume down buttons for 10 seconds.

Then, while the device is booting back up, you'll have to press a combination of hardware buttons to force it into Safe Mode. For most phones and tablets, this can be done by pressing and holding both volume buttons while the device is booting up. For older devices, hold the hardware menu key during boot. You'll know you made it into Safe Mode when you see the "Safe Mode" overlay in the bottom-left corner of your screen.

Safe Mode active: third-party apps disabled, "Safe Mode" badge at bottom of screen.

Step 2: Uninstall Problematic Apps

Once you've successfully booted into Safe Mode, start by heading to your phone or tablet's main settings menu. From here, select the "Apps" or "Applications" entry, then any malware apps can be found in the "Downloaded" section.

Next, scroll through this list and find any apps that you're not familiar with, since those are most likely to be the malware apps. Select these shady-looking apps individually, then press the "Uninstall" button on the subsequent screen.

If the "Uninstall" button on any app in this section is grayed out, chances are the app has been activated as a device administrator, which means you'll have to deactivate this function before you can uninstall the app. So head back to the main settings menu on your device, then select the "Security" option. From here, tap the "Device Administrator" entry and untick the box next to any fishy apps, then you should be able to uninstall the app with no problems.

Step 3: Reboot into Android

Once you've got all of the malware apps uninstalled, it's safe to boot back into Android's normal running mode. So power your device off and back on, and when you get back up, you'll be out of Safe Mode and everything should be back to normal.

What malware apps did you uninstall using this method? Let us know in the comment section below, or drop us a line on Android Hacks' Facebook or Twitter, or Gadget Hacks' Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

29 Comments

Just followed instructions to get rid of malware and now i cant see any of my apps and most of them are deleted. Can i back it up so i dont have to redo it? If so, how? Tia

Sounds like you're still in Safe Mode, so reboot and they should come back.

So there were some fishy apps in the downloaded section; I don't know which one it was but I got rid of 3 and it seemed to work. One was "Google Play Services" which may have just been harmless, one was "My Account" which I have NO idea what it was and have never seen it in my life, and the other was System U| or something like that (yes with a hard line like that). This was for the Canadian version of the FBI scam which was a CSIS scam.

There were also updates to Google Play which I uninstalled, since I never use that app ever.

Oh and consequently, now my phone is running faster than it was before.

Last night when I was browsing the internet and I found an app that I wanted to install so I did the whole precaution thing i.e. Ran it through antivirus, checked the website I downloaded it from etc etc. But the second I install it, it spams my screen with a window wanting to give this app device administrator. I continually pressed no until (due to my fat fingers) I bumped yes. And boom ransomware. It even bypasses safe mode! I need help, please!

This is exactly what happened to me. I can't find anything about when it doesn't work in safe mode. It has my phone a mess. Any help would be appreciated

You may end up needing to perform a factory reset. But one thing you can try first is force-stopping the app from Settings -> Apps. Then, go to Settings -> Security -> Device Administrators. From there, try disabling the malware app's Device Administrator access, then quickly head to the Apps menu in Settings to uninstall it (before it runs again and spams for Device Admin). If the app won't let you disable Device Administrator access, you'll have to factory reset to remove it.

Mate you are a absolute legend!!!!!!!!!! for a week now my phone had this malware it even started asking me to deposit money from my bank account and it constantly spammed my phone to press continue to approve the deposit..

you've saved me from having to reset and lose all my data !! thank you so much mate :):):)

Same! I thought I was going to need to turn it back to factory default and the app that got downloaded on mine had no name and would bring a spam pop up every time I turned my phone on. Easy instructions to follow and right as I went into device administrator and stopped it from running I was just thinking "ooooh I got you now, dick" and it worked?????????????? great job!

i have a android 7 and nothing is working not even the hard reboot can ya help

You're using a Nexus, right? What's the malware doing? Have you tried forcing a reboot by holding down the power button?

Accidentally installed video codec HD. followed your instructions and its gone.
Thank you so much.

I have a galaxy on5 which with your helpful instructions I've gotten into safe 2 but I am still unable to get an uninstall button or to see downloaded apps . It appears to be Google services and google play what can I do? I can't even do a force stop and device admins are disabled its even messed with the keyboard! !@#$@!*please help??

Google Services and Google Play are core Android apps, so they can't be installed. Basically, they're required for your phone to run. They're not malware, though, so you shouldn't have to worry about them.

Your instructions worked to remove showbox on my Android device. The new showbox apk installs with admin perms so you can't uninstall it until you remove it's admin permissions. I followed your instructions, amd luckily, you were spot on. Thanks for posting useful advice for removing this malicious app.

This is the same thing that happened to me. Pretty sure this version was malware as everytime I unlocked my phone, it would take me to an ad popup or a google page of some sort. When I went to uninstall it, it was greyed out. This had me panicking. Thank you for throwing in that extra tidbit about the device administrator portion.

I used your recomendations to remove a fake app named Easycap Viewer (did not do anything when starting) and it worked very well. This is an easy and effective way I believe. Thank you for your help Theodore

Hello, I'd be glad to get some help.

I've recently had downloaded a game from Google Play that appeared to contain a Malware (to my belief). On first hand, nothing did happen but as soon as I deleted the app, my device (HTC Desire 526G Dual SIM) started installing unauthorized apps, all this when my screen shows a message saying "Launcher loading" and completely blocks me from using my device.

I've tried to reset my phone to factory data, and deleted everything that is on my SD card (now I have removed it for precaution). I went through the scanning and cleaning (Ccleaner had spotted caches containing ads but said to have deleted them), as well as the safe mode (nothing appears in the Downloaded apps, only the google play services), and I've even deactivated the Google Play Store to avoid the downloads. But the "Launcher loading" message keeps appearing and sometimes my screen shows the Localisation service too, very briefly.

I'm not even sure this is a Malware since I don't know much about informatics, but is there any way I can get rid of this? Or is it some sort of permanent aftereffect? :/

Thank you! You are a genious. My phone was popping out advertisements out of no where. I deleted showbox, localcast and mlx player I dont know exacltly whicj=h one was it but it worked.

hi thanku so so much..mal ware brought into phone by show box app..was driving me crazy with innappropiate ads and stupid spam virus crap but you fixed it thanku thanku thanku:)

Whenever I on my net, everything stops working & white screen written "launcher loading" shows on screen. Also few unwanted apps get installed itself on it. I think an app named "com. google.provider" is main problem. i hv formatted my mobile & memory card but nothing is working. Please help me out.

Please I seriously need your help, I've tried everything you said, even to the point of using factory reset. Still I can't get rid of the malware. Please what do I do?

It worked on safe mode but when I came back out of safe mode (smiling) I was let down. My screen was blocked again and I repeated your steps. When I deactivated it, it still blocked my screen after getting out of safe mode. Please tell me what's wrong? is there anther method? should I restore my android back to factory settings?

deactivated the malware device manager but I cant deactivate the malware itself...

Dallas, either the malware screen block is real or I have no hope.

Just want to check, have you uninstalled the malware app after deactivating its device administrator privileges in safe mode?

If you have, it might be that you have multiple malware apps installed. So for that, boot into safe mode, deactivate anything with device administrator privileges, then carefully go through the all apps list, set it to "User Apps" if that's an option, then uninstall everything you don't recognize.

You can even take it a step further and hit "Disable" next to any questionable app that doesn't have the "Uninstall" button. If it doesn't say "Disable" or "Uninstall," then it's a required system app, so skip over it.

Really though, it should be a matter of uninstalling or disabling everything you can find that looks remotely fishy. After rebooting, you can go through one-by-one and re-enable any disabled apps, but do so carefully, and check that the malware doesn't come back after each.

Failing that, you might need to do a factory reset. If you can, back up important files to the cloud or transfer them to your computer with a USB cable, then you can manually trigger a factory reset by booting into recovery mode. The button combo for recovery mode is different for different phones. But for most, turn the phone off, then hold power and volume up. You'll see a little Android logo and a message that says "No Command." From there, press and hold power, then tap volume up.

Once you make it into recovery, you can use the volume buttons to highlight "wipe data/factory reset" then press power to perform a full wipe, which will almost always kill any malware.

Hi,
I have a Samsung galaxy s6 I am trying to delete gopilot. I downloaded from App Store. It has administrative rights.
So I went into safe mode and then security and device management I cannot click on deactivate.
Also if I try to click to take permission off the app setting crash error pops up
Please help

Try booting into safe mode again, but this time go to Settings -> Applications -> Application Manger.

From there, tap "More," then choose "Apps that can appear on top."

Go through that list and turn off the switch next to any app that you don't recognize. Particularly gopilot in this case, but it could be another app doing it.

Once you've done that, try going back to the Security -> Device Management screen. I'm thinking the app is using an overlay to prevent you from pressing "Deactivate" here, so with those toggle switches turned off, I'm hoping you'll be able to deactivate it finally.

If that works, you should be able to uninstall gopilot through Settings -> Applications -> Application Manager

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