With mobile devices becoming ever so advanced and powerful, it’s no surprise that they have also become the target of a whole bevvy of vicious hackers and attackers, looking to mine information out of your personal devices and cause chaos on your phone. With recently discovered exploits and bugs still affecting older devices with no sign of giving up, there definitely are reasons to watch out and be careful about what you install on your device. Today, we’ll show you how to remove unwanted malicious apps and get your phone back to snuff using the built-in Safe Mode in Android.
Besides the aforementioned malicious apps, it’s also possible that completely legitimate, regular apps can become a nuisance for your phone and make it almost unusable. While the app quality has gone up over the years, there still are all kinds of apps that can bog down the CPU and lock up the device accidentally, making it slow or inoperable. This should help with those situations as well, since all we’re showcasing is how you can override all of the apps that automatically start up and do their thing by booting up in Safe Mode, with only the minimal apps required.
Safe Mode is a built-in convenience in Android that makes it so the OS boots with only the original needed apps necessary for the phone to work. It ignores any apps you installed that want to start up automatically, or that have something scheduled. In Safe Mode, your device only runs the minimal set of apps it needs to assure a basic environment. It’s kind of like a factory reset, where all of the apps you have downloaded are absent. This will last until you reboot the device, and is a handy built-in way to clean it up with minimum hassle.
The way to enable Safe Mode is actually a little bit different from device to device, although it generally involves pressing a button combination or doing something in the reboot menu. Here’s the way to enable Safe Mode for a few of the most popular devices:
Samsung Galaxy S6
To enable Safe Mode in the Galaxy S6, first turn off your device using the boot menu, as usual, by long-pressing the power button while on Android and choosing “Power Off”. Then, once the device shuts off, boot it up by long pressing the power button and the volume down button simultaneously. Once the screen lights up, you can let go of the power button, but keep holding the volume down button until the device finishes booting up. You should now be in Safe Mode.
On Nexus devices, the way to boot into Safe Mode is fairly simple. While the device is on, long-press the power button to bring up the boot menu, then long-press the “Power Off” option. A window should then pop-up asking if you want to boot into Safe Mode. Just tap “Ok” and your device will reboot into Safe Mode.
For Motorola devices, the way to enable Safe Mode involves shutting down the device. Then, boot it up by long-pressing the power button. Once the Motorola logo shows up and the device vibrates, press and hold the volume down and volume up buttons at the same time, until the device finishes booting up.
As we mentioned, the method varies from device to device, so it’s always better to search for specific instructions for your model before attempting one of these methods, if you’re not sure. Anyway, if you enabled Safe Mode correctly, you should see a watermark in the lower left portion of your screen when you boot up:
While in this mode, as you can see, any apps that didn’t come with the device are shown as grayed out in the homescreen, meaning that you cannot use them. Your installed apps will also not show up in the app drawer:
From the Safe Mode, you can easily uninstall any misbehaving app that you have identified as being troublesome beforehand or that started slowing down the device after installing. Just go into Settings>Apps>Downloaded, and pick the app you want to uninstall from the list:
Then, tap the uninstall button, and the app will be removed:
This is an emergency procedure to get rid of apps in a safe, controlled environment. While being cautious and careful about what apps you download and what you do with your device is the best measure to keep yourself safe, being aware of Safe Mode can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to easily fix an issue without having to send your device back, doing a factory reset or having to deal with the device in an infected state. As long as you know what the app that is causing the issue is, removing it is trivial and can be done in a few minutes.