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Cleaning-up a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+

I recently bought an Galaxy Tab S7+ tablet to replace an ancient and failing laptop, and on a hunch that it might stop me from being distracted by my phone. I’m very pleased with it, although I’m still not sure whether its had a positive impact on my tendency to stare at my phone.

But man does it come loaded down with a lot of crap. I don’t need a Samsung contacts app – the google one is perfectly adequate. Same with calendar and photo gallery. And I don’t need text messaging and phone apps. And I certainly don’t need two personal assistant apps (yes, you Bixby). And of course most of them can’t be uninstalled – because someone at Samsung thinks I want their particular form of value add.

So of course I decided to remove them anyway. This post describes the process. But before that:

Warning! Doing what is described here could cause data loss, device instability, and/or could brick your device completely. Don’t copy what I did unless you understand the consequences and accept responsibility. I can’t be held responsible for your choices.

The first thing I did was quickly remove components of Bixby that are integrated into the user interface, using the steps described in this article on Android Central.

It is possible to uninstall “uninstallable” apps using adb – the Android Debug Bridge that is part of the Android platform tools. So the first thing to do is to download and install the tools on a PC or Mac. Make sure the bin directory is in your path. Then enable developer mode on your Android device and connect it to your PC via USB. I’m not going to explain how to do any of this: if you don’t already know then I think it’s fair to say that you really shouldn’t be contemplating any of this.

The command to uninstall an app or package is adb -d shell pm uninstall --user 0 <packagename>

The --user 0 switch runs the command as the device’s root user, which is necessary for some of the apps I uninstalled.

So all that we need to do now is determine the package names for the apps we want to uninstall. There are probably a few ways to do this, but I found that the easiest way was to install an app such as APK Extractor, which lists the installed apps and their package names. I didn’t extract any apks with it, and I uninstalled it later.

Then it’s just a matter of running the above command using the names of the packages that you want to remove. Here’s the ones I removed:

Package NameDescription
com.samsung.android.calendarSamsung Calendar
com.samsung.android.app.routines Bixby Routines
com.samsung.android.visionintelligence Bixby Vision
com.samsung.android.bixby.agentBixby Voice
com.samsung.android.bixby.serviceBixby Service
com.samsung.android.app.notesSamsung Notes
com.samsung.android.app.notes.addonsSamsung Notes
com.samsung.android.beaconmanagerSmartThings
com.samsung.android.oneconnectSmartThings
com.samsung.android.dialerSamsung Phone
com.samsung.android.messagingSamsung Messages
com.sec.penupPenup
com.fluidtouch.noteshelf2Noteshelf
com.sec.android.app.popupcalculatorSamsung Calculator
com.sec.android.app.myfilesMy Files (1)

(1) Uninstalling this package makes it possible to install Google Files. I have no idea how that works.

The above is very much a minimum set. There are still bits of Bixby and other packages installed but they don’t seem to intrude on my experience of using the device and it seems a lot cleaner now. As a device I really like it.

Once again: this is what worked for me. Your experience may differ. I hope it is useful.

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Mapmaking

Inspired by this post on the Ordnance Survey blog, he is my attempt at a Tolkien-style map. I chose Castleton for no reason other than it has a castle and a river.

Tolkien-style map of Castleton

To create the drawing I used Krita and a Wacom One graphics tablet. I initially tried to hand letter it but the results were poor. The font I ended-up using is Pete Klassen’s beautiful Aniron font, which I downloaded from here. It is described as “free for personal use” and I hope my usage respects this.

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Lockdown Interlude

The dawn chorus woke me just after 5am this morning and I thought I’d share the sound of the birds in this locked-down city with you, dear reader.

Whoever you are, I hope you’re getting through this situation in good health. And if you’re reading this in the future, this was a little moment of a past crisis that I hope we all get through together.