Downgrade A System/User App On Android – Full Guide

The purpose of this guide is to provide you with instructions on how to downgrade your Android device’s system and applications. Updates are rolled out by the developers on a regular basis. These are mostly aimed at enhancing the app’s security, improving its performance, adding a few new features, and ironing out the underlying bugs. Sometimes, however, things may not go according to plan.

It is always possible that the developer will release a buggy update. In such cases, it is usually not only the concerned application that is affected. Other applications and OS components may also be affected, resulting in frequent crashes or malfunctions.

Even though the developers are generally quick to roll out patches, it may still take anywhere from three days to a week. Until then, one option is to uninstall the concerned app from your device. However, there are two problems with this approach. It is important to note that that app may be of paramount importance for some users, and removing it from their devices may prove difficult.

The next issue is that OEMs treat some apps as system applications, and therefore you will not be able to uninstall them in the normal manner. Is there anything else that can be done? It is possible to roll back the app to the earlier version of the stable build and continue to use it until the issue is resolved in the newer version. We will assist you in accomplishing this goal in this guide. Here are the detailed steps for downgrading your Android system and user applications.

The Prerequisite: Disable Auto Updates

It is important that you check off an important prerequisite before proceeding. This is the ability to disable auto-updates of the app that you are about to downgrade. Should you fail to do so, then the Play Store will automatically update the app back to the latest version as soon as you perform the downgrade. To prevent this from occurring, please refer to the following steps:

  • The first step is to navigate to your device’s Settings menu.

  • Select the desired app from the list of Apps > See All Apps.

Apps > See All Apps.

  1. You should now scroll to the end of the page and tap on App Details. You will now be directed to the Play Store page for that application.

  2. Tap on the overflow icon located at the top right of the screen and uncheck Enable Auto-updates.

It’s that simple. The auto-update feature for the concerned app has been disabled. It is now possible to proceed with the steps to downgrade that user/system app on your Android device.

How to Downgrade a User App (Third-Party App) on Android

  • Your first step should be to navigate to the Settings menu on your device.

  • Next, select the desired app from the list of apps under Apps > See All Apps.

  • Scroll down to the end and note down the version number somewhere (perhaps a screenshot will suffice).

Downgrade a User App

  • When you see the confirmation dialog box, tap Uninstall and then OK.

  • Download an older version of the app from a trusted third-party site (re-verify it as described above in step 3) and install it.

  • It’s now just a matter of installing the APK file (enable Installation from Unknown Sources if asked). You’re done.

Unknown Sources

These are the steps to downgrade a user app on Android. As we move forward, let’s examine the apps that are part of the system.

Downgrade a System (Pre-Installed) App on Android

We would like to clarify one thing before going ahead with the steps- by system apps, we mean those that come preinstalled on your device. The Android community refers to them as bloatware (since they unnecessarily bloat the operating system). An example would be the Chrome browser installed on your device. We would not modify the system apps that are responsible for the OS’s proper operation.

Additionally, there are three different methods to downgrade a system app on Android. You should read through them once and then choose the one which meets your needs. We recommend Method 3 as the most recent and best method. We will perform this downgrade on YouTube as a reference. The downgrade articles for Google Chrome and the Google App have already been covered, so let’s look at YouTube this time.

1: Via Uninstall Updates Option

This method is quite easy to execute and does not require a PC or technical knowledge of ADB commands. Conversely, there is no flexibility in choosing which old version you wish to downgrade to.

  • The first thing you need to do is go to your device’s Settings menu.

  • From the Settings menu, select Apps > See All Apps and then YouTube.

  • Afterwards, tap on the overflow icon in the upper right corner

Uninstall Updates Option

  1. During the confirmation dialog box, choose Uninstall Updates > OK.

  2. There you have it. On your Android device, YouTube has been downgraded to an earlier version.

Method 2: Via ADB Commands

Starting with Android 12, this tweak might not work and you may receive the “app package name appears to be invalid” error message when trying to install the downgraded app. Therefore, it is recommended that you try Method 3. However, the second method is still preserved below for reference.

The advantage of this method is that you may choose which version of the app you wish to downgrade. On the other hand, you’ll need to use your PC to run some ADB commands.

  • Firstly, download an earlier version of the app (you are about to downgrade) from a trusted third-party site. Transfer the APK file to your device once it has been downloaded.

  • You can then download Android SDK Platform Tool and extract it to any convenient location on your PC. You will then be able to access the platform tools folder, which we will use in the future.

Install Android SDK and Platform Tools

  • You will then need to enable USB Debugging on your device. For that, go to Settings > About Phone > Tap on Build Number 7 times > Go back to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer Options > Enable USB Debugging.

enable USB debugging

  • Using a USB cable, connect your device to the PC. Enter CMD into the address bar of the platform-tools folder, then go to the platform-tools folder.

CMD and press Enter

  • This will launch the Command Prompt window. You can now execute the command below and hit Enter:
adb devices

adb shell

  • If the connection is successful, you should receive the device ID. You should have received a Debugging Prompt on your device if that is not the case. Tap Allow if that is not the case.

Debugging authorization

  • To open the shell environment, execute the following command. You will now be given the codename of your device (for example, sunfish for my Pixel 4A).
adb shell

You need the package name for the system app you are about to downgrade. See How to Get App Package Name on Android [3 Methods] for more information.

Get Android App Package Name via Play Store URL

  • Once that is done, run the below command to uninstall the said app (make sure to replace the PackageName keyword accordingly).
pm uninstall --user 0 PackageName
  • The above command will be used to uninstall YouTube, so it will be transformed into:
pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.youtube

Downgrade A System/User App On Android - Full Guide

  • Upon uninstalling the app, you will receive a Success message. Now that you have downloaded the APK file, you can install the older version of that app.

3: Using ADB Commands and -d Parameter

Most Android devices [unless they are rooted] may not support the second method above as of Android 12. However, we discovered another nifty method that will help you accomplish this task. So without further ado, let’s take a look.

  • Start by downloading Android SDK Platform Tool and extracting it to any convenient location on your PC. In this way, you will be able to access the platform-tools folder, which we will be using later on.

  • You can now download an earlier version of the app (that you are about to downgrade) from any trusted third-party site. Transfer it to the platform tools folder after downloading.

  • If USB Debugging is not enabled on your device, then enable it. You can do that by going to Settings > About Phone > tapping seven times on the Build Number > going back to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer Options > enabling USB debugging.

enable USB debugging

  • Connect your device to the PC using a USB cable. After that, navigate to the platform-tools folder, add CMD to its address bar, and click OK.

CMD and press Enter

  • This will launch the Command Prompt window. Execute the following command and press Enter:
adb devices
  • If the connection is successful, you should receive the device ID. You should have received a Debugging Prompt on your device if that is not the case. Tap Allow if that is not the case.

Debugging authorization

  • Start the shell environment by executing the below command. You will now receive the codename for your device (such as Sunfish for my Pixel 4A).
adb shell
  • You need the package name for the system app you are about to downgrade. The guide How to Get App Package Name on Android [3 Methods] may help you with that.
  • Execute the following two commands to uninstall the app for the current user as well as from the system altogether (replace the PackageName accordingly).
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 PackageName
adb shell pm uninstall PackageName
  • We are going to uninstall YouTube, so we will use the following command:
adb shell pm uninstall --user 0 com.google.android.youtube
adb shell pm uninstall com.google.android.youtube
  • The Success message will appear once the app has been uninstalled.

  • The older version must now be installed using ADB commands [don’t install it from your device as it will give an error]. Here is the command you need to type in [replace PackageName with the following]:

adb install -d PackageName.apk
  • I have YouTubeold.apk as the name of the app, so the above command becomes:
adb install -d youtubeold.apk
  • That’s all. The downgrade has now been completed. The -d parameter in the above command stands for downgrade.

With this, we conclude our guide on how to downgrade your Android device’s system and user apps. You can also use ADB to remove user-installed apps by following the same procedure as uninstalling system apps. However, we haven’t listed it under the user-installed apps section because these apps can be easily uninstalled from the Settings menu. Therefore, there is no need to use the longer ADB method. We conclude this guide on that note. Please feel free to comment below with any questions you may have.

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