November 27, 2014

Rooted Users & System Apps: What To Do When They Get Updated

There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding what to do when system apps get updated while using a custom ROM.  Recently Google’s Youtube app was updated with a slick new version, but many people on XDA forums & other similar communities are having issues with their rooted devices.  They will get notified about an update in the market, but the installation will be unsuccessful.  The same goes for the popular Adobe Flash Player.  Here is a quick run down of what to do in this scenario.

It will require a third party app, typically a file explorer that can access the system partition is required.  This can also be done using using the popular Titanium Backup application.   Root Explorer & Estrongs File Explorer both have this capability depending on the device configuration.  Estrongs takes a little extra config & may only work on CM6 variants.  In settings there is an option to enable root explorer & also to mount the /system & /data directories as writable.  The Root Explorer app can do this “out of the box” on a rooted device.  Browse to the directory of the .apk file & enable R/W access to this path.   Titanium Backup simply lets you uninstall these apps.

If you choose to use one of the file explorer methods, browse to the /system/app directory & remove the .apk you are wishing to update.  In the case of Youtube,  you will see a youtube.apk file.  Delete this file from the directory.  Reboot the device.  Now head to the market to download & install the updated version.  Again, the same goes for the Adobe Flash Player or any other system app you wish to update.

I hope this helps some of the confusion regarding unsuccessful updates of system apps.  Now get out there & update that new Google Youtube app everyone is raving about!



  • Shane

    Excellent post, I also saw the confusion amongst the communities members that were new to this. Excellent explanation.

  • staciedaisy

    Great post! Thanks a bunches!

  • Mathieu

    The best solution is to put new APK in place of the old APK in the system partition to avoid loosing space in the user partition.

    For example, to move the new YouTube app from the user partition to the system partition:
    adb shell mv /data/app/com.google.android.youtube-1.apk /system/app/YouTube.apk

    • http://www.twitter.com/drdrewdown drdrewdown

      yes i agree & thanks for the input Mathieu. I left the whole ADB scenario out of the post, with the idea that if a user is knowledgeable enough to use ADB they will already know the information provided in the article. Directed more at the new>intermediate android users with rooted devices.

      thanks again tho!

    • Dredd

      Pardon my newbism, but even after the comments I’m still confused. Are you suggesting that the partition size will adjust itself since a file is removed? Thanks, in advance, for any hand holding provided hereafter. :)

  • Nathan

    I would suggest renaming the apk to .bak or somehing similar instead of deleting the file.

    • jxk

      Or copying the original to /sdcard/ so there’s not 2 .apk’s taking up system space.

  • pwnvds

    I tried uninstalling using titanium backup, which worked, but the download from market is still failing.

    • http://www.twitter.com/drdrewdown drdrewdown

      @pwnvds: did you reboot the device after uninstalling?

      • zippyioa

        I used Titanium Backup to uninstall YouTube, rebooted, then went to market, clicked install on YouTube, but I still get “Installation Unsuccessful” message :(

  • Barwin

    Worked on Earth 1.1 as well.
    Couldn’t install it on rooted Desire but with the ‘Titanium-method’ I now have version 1.1 installed…
    Thnx.

  • lolobabes

    wow! been wondering about this for weeks now, thank you finally! ahihihihi