Are you tired of annoying pop-ups and notifications from those pesky hidden device admin apps on your Android device? Such apps can be frustrating, as they often restrict certain functions or settings on your phone. The device administrator apps control your every move on your Android device and constantly prompt you to grant permissions. Fortunately, deactivating them is easier than you might think! In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to find hidden device administrators in Android and deactivate device administrator apps to enable the uninstall option which otherwise remains greyed out. Say goodbye to these invasive apps and regain control over your phone’s settings.
What are Device Administrator Apps on Android?
A device administrator app is an app that has been granted special privileges by the Android operating system. This allows the app to perform certain actions that could potentially adversely affect the security or stability of the device. For example, a device administrator app could lock the device, wipe all data on the device, change the password, or disable the device.
Deactivating a device administrator app is not the same as uninstalling it. When you deactivate a device admin app, you essentially revoke its special privileges. This means that the app can no longer perform any actions to control certain aspects of your device, restrict certain features, or harm your device.
The device admin apps can enforce password requirements and location sharing, disable the camera and restrict access to social media platforms. In many cases, employers provide their employees with smartphones with preinstalled device administrator apps to protect work-related data.
If you use an Android phone or tablet, you should allow device admin access to apps like Find My Device and Samsung SmartThings Find which can be very helpful in tracking and controlling your lost Android device remotely.
If you no longer need an app to be a device administrator, you can deactivate it. This is a good idea if you’re no longer using the app or if you want to remove its restrictions from your device. It’s also a good idea if you’re planning on selling your device so that the new owner won’t have access to any of your personal data.
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Steps to Deactivate Android Device Administrator Apps
While it’s very easy to disable, freeze or uninstall system apps on Android using ADB, the case with the device administrators is a bit different.
If you have granted admin permissions to an app, you can easily deactivate it using the steps given below. However, if the device admin app was installed by your company or employer, your attempt to uninstall a device administrator app that won’t deactivate might fail unless you have the PIN or password for that app.
In case you are getting the following message while trying to uninstall a device administrator app, you can deactivate it easily.
This app is a device administrator and must be deactivated before uninstalling Google Play Services.
This app is required by your device administrator and can’t be uninstalled.
I have made a list of the steps to go to the settings on different Android devices.
- Settings > Apps > Special app access > Device admin apps
- Settings > Biometrics and security > Other security settings > Device admin apps
- Settings > Lock Screen and Security > Other Security Settings > Phone Administrators
- Settings > Security > Device admin apps
- Settings > Security > Device Administrators
- Security and privacy > Device admin apps
- Open Settings > Apps and tap the 3-dot icon on the top-right corner of the screen and select Special access > Device admin apps.
- Open Settings, tap the search icon, type “admin” in the search bar, and select ‘Device Admin Apps‘, ‘Device Administrator Apps‘, or ‘Phone Administrators‘.
Let’s check out the steps to deactivate device admin apps on a Samsung Galaxy device.
- Open Settings on your Android phone or tablet.
- Tap on Security and Privacy.
- Now, select Other security settings.
- On the next screen, tap on Device admin apps.
- Now, tap on the toggle button next to the device admin app you want to deactivate.
- Finally, tap on Deactivate to disable the device admin app.
That’s it! You have successfully deactivated the device administrator app on your Android device. You can now uninstall the device admin apps like you remove any normal app from your phone.
How to Find and Uninstall Hidden Administrator Apps
All apps that require device administrator privileges are not bad. Device admin apps like ScaleFusion are used by corporates and institutions to enforce desired policies. To remove ScaleFusion from your Android phone, enter the PIN for this app and then deactivate it from the device admin settings.
Some malware apps are installed on your device without your knowledge. They remain hidden and stealthily control your device, spy on you, and steal data. If you don’t find any malicious hidden apps listed under device administrators, you can use Malwarebytes Mobile Security or an antivirus app to get rid of them.
Install and open Malwarebytes Mobile Security, and tap on the Privacy Checker option from the app menu. Choose Act as a device administrator and the app will show you the list of apps installed on your device that can work as a device admin. Tap the 3-dot icon next to the suspicious app and select the Delete app option.
Deactivate Device Administrator on Android Programmatically
If you try to install device admin apps using ADB Shell commands, you’ll get
Failure[Delete failed Internal Error]. The truth is, you won’t be able to deactivate the device administrator in Android programmatically unless it’s declared
android:testOnly in the application in its manifest.
You can use the following command to check the DPM (device policy manager) using the following ADB command.
adb shell dpm
You can refer to our guide to learn how to use ADB commands on Windows and Mac.
Device administrator apps on your Android device can be very useful, but they can also cause problems if not managed properly. We hope you now know how to deactivate unwanted or malicious device administrators from your phone. Be sure to always research an unknown app before activating it as a device administrator so that you know exactly what it is doing and how it could affect the performance of your phone.
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