Deleting an app from your smartphone takes mere seconds, but you need to do more than just uninstall the app if you’re trying to remove your data or stop it from accessing other accounts—which some apps continue to do long after they’ve left your phone. To prevent this, make sure you delete/unlink your account and any data that it might contain before uninstalling an app. Here are some tips to make sure you make a clean break from apps you no longer want to use.
Delete extra personal data
Deleting your data before deleting your account and uninstalling an app has become less of a requirement in light of recent legislative changes around the world regarding data privacy, but it’s still important to double-check you’re not overlooking any fine print.
While it’s rare, some companies do hold onto personal data even after you’ve deleted your account, especially if your app account and “identity” within a service are handled separately—for example, if you sign in with your Google or Facebook accounts and the two services share data with each other.
Look up how your data is collected and stored by the app to confirm that any extra steps are necessary.
Look for menus in the app labelled “privacy,” “security,” or “account,” and dig through them and look for options that let you delete “account data,” “stored personal data,” “use history,” or the like.
You should also revoke the app’s access to any linked accounts if necessary. Some services have been caught accessing Gmail or Facebook likes even after users deleted their accounts or removed the app. You’ll need to sign in to the linked account(s) and check your settings to find out which apps Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. share data with, and delete any you no longer use.
Deleting your account
Once you’ve deleted your data and/or confirmed it will no longer have access to other accounts, you can now delete your app’s account. Again, these steps are going to differ between apps, but you’ll probably be able to find the option by digging through the app’s settings. Here are some suggestions:
Look in “account” or “privacy” settings first.
Always scroll through the entire menu and read all available options or links—some apps like to make the deletion option less obvious.
Keep an eye out for secondary menus or sidebars where other settings may be hiding.
If you check every menu in the app and still can’t find it, try logging into your account on desktop (if available) and seeing if the option exists there.
A quick internet search should also help you find the deletion tools you’re looking for.
Special note: If you’re trying to leave a financial institution or stop a service like your phone coverage or the internet, you need to call and/or meet in person and go through the proper cancellation steps in order to cancel your account.
When you’ve found how to delete your account, make sure you read through the steps very carefully. Make sure any options to delete your data or revoke access to linked accounts are properly enabled, and make sure to read through any notes or caveats about extra steps you may need to take to confirm your account deletion. Only finalise your account deletion when you’re absolutely sure your data is going to be removed and no ties remain to other services you use.
Once your data is wiped and your account is deleted, now you can go ahead and uninstall the app from your phone.