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Managing Android Apps

Learn how to keep your apps running smoothly on Android

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Apps are an essential part of owning an Android phone, and as you add more and more apps, it becomes more important to be able to manage them properly. This guide will explain how to keep your apps running smoothly, how to keep them working as they should and how to disable pre-installed apps, among other useful tips.

1. Setting App Defaults

There are many apps available on the Play store which will provide the same or similar functions to the apps already installed on your phone. When you download and install one of these apps and then use a particular function it provides, Android will ask you which of the apps you want to use and will give you the option to make it the default app for that function. Simply click the app you wish to use, and then click Always.

If for any reason you decide that the default app you have chosen is not the one you want to use all the time, you can easily remove its default status. Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications. Choose the app you want to alter and scroll down the Application Info screen until you see the Clear Defaults button. Touch this to reset the default status of the app.

2. How to Remove Apps

Most apps take up just a few MB of space in your phone memory, so most modern Android phones can fit a lot of apps inside them before they start to run out of space. If, for whatever reason, you wish to remove an app, the process is simple.

Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications. The tabs at the top will show you Downloaded Apps, Running Apps, All Apps and Apps on SD Card. The tab titles are fairly self-explanatory, so for now concentrate on Downloaded Apps.

Select the app you wish to remove and then touch the Uninstall button. Confirm that you want to remove the app on the next screen and click Ok. If uninstall a paid app and then decide you want to re-install it, you will be able to download it again from Google Play for free.

3. Fix Problem with Apps

From time to time you might find that an app is not behaving as it should. You might see an error message pop up on screen or you might not. Sometimes an app just won't seem to open, despite repeated tries. In these circumstances, there are several things you can do to try to resolve the issue.

Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications and select the Running Apps tab at the top of the screen. Have a look to see if the app is shown as running (if not, select the All Apps tab) and select it to see the Application Info screen.

  • Force Stop – This might sound worse than it actually is. It simply forces the app to stop running. You can then try running the app again to see if it works properly.
  • Clear Cache – If the app still doesn't work properly, try clearing the cache. This removes files and data that the app has stored to help it run smoothly. No essential data will be lost when you Clear Cache. Go back and try running the app again.
  • Clear Data – Your third option, if the app is still not working as it should, is Clear Data. This is more drastic (for the app) than clearing the cache and will remove stored password and settings. This basically restores the app to its original state when you first installed it.
  • Uninstall – The fourth button on the App Info is self-explanatory. If nothing else has helped, uninstall the app and download it again. If the app is part of the OS or is installed by the carrier, this button might say Disable instead of Uninstall.

4. Checking for App Updates

If you have tried clearing the cache and data, and the app is still not working properly, it is worth checking to see if there are any updates available for it. If the issue is known, the developer may have released an update which fixes the problem.

Open the Google Play Store on your phone and tap the Menu button. Select My Apps from the menu. If the problem app has “Update” next to it, click on it and choose update from the next screen. It is also worth ticking the Allow Automatic Updating option so that you keep up to date with future updates.

5. Disable Stock Apps Easily

If you are running Android Jelly Bean or later on your phone, you have the option to disable the apps that came pre-installed on your device. In the past, these apps could not usually be removed or disabled without rooting the device.

Open the main Settings menu and then click on the Applications (or Apps) settings. Scroll across to the right until all apps are displayed. Choose the stock app you want to disable (something like Email) and select it. You will now see that although there is not an Uninstall button, there is a Disable button.

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