For many Android users, the common way of checking all the available apps in their smartphones is to open the app drawer. Simply swipe from the bottom of the home screen, then the app drawer appears. However, some apps may not be found in the drawer. Some may be deliberately hidden in your phone for shady reasons.
Check all apps (hidden or not) via Settings
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to list all the apps. It’s via the Apps (or Applications) section of Settings, which is listed as an app itself in the app drawer. Note that the steps to get to this part of the Settings may vary depending on your Android version and the phone manufacturer’s customizations. But generally, the Apps section should be prominently listed in the Settings.
Once you’re in the Apps section, you should already find a comprehensive app list. If not, look for a “See All Apps” option and tap it. Every app, hidden or not, should be listed here. But in some other devices, you must first find a filter button or a three dots menu where you need to enable the display of hidden apps, including system apps.
Not all hidden apps are malware
Note that not all hidden apps are malicious in nature. Some may be legitimate processes that are working in the background to ensure Android is running smoothly. If you find any unfamiliar hidden apps, it’s best to find more details about it first before you decide to shut it down and uninstall. Accidentally disrupting an important app or process may cause instability and issues to your phone.
Use malware scanners
If you don’t want to manually uncover hidden apps, let a security app do it for you. They can also automatically remove anything that’s outright illegal. Google’s own Play Store already has a built-in scanner known as Play Protect that regularly checks installed apps in your phone, regardless of whether these apps were downloaded from the Play Store or third-party sources. You can also manually initiate a Play Protect scan: launch the Play Store app, tap your profile icon at the upper-right corner, select Play Protect, and then tap the Scan button.
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For third-party scanners, try Avast Mobile Security, Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus, or McAfee Mobile Security. Many of these third-party options yield better detection and protection rates than Play Protect. In a July 2021 report by AV-Test, Play Protect only worked against 68.8 percent of the 2910 sample malware used, far below the 97.8 percent industry average.
You can manually hide apps from the app drawer yourself
App drawers are often customized as part of the phone’s launcher. One common customization among different launchers is to give you the ability to hide apps from the app drawer yourself. To do this in Samsung Galaxy devices, for instance, just go to Settings > Home Screen > Hide Apps. Select the apps you want to be excluded from the app drawer, then tap Done.
Third-party launchers with the option to hide apps from the app drawer are available at the Google Play Store if your phone’s default launcher doesn’t support it. But make sure you get one that’s trusted, as malware can often sneak in the app store and disguise itself as legitimate software. Two known and trusted third-party launchers are the Nova Launcher and Microsoft Launcher.
Note that this option is only useful as a way to organize your app drawer. If you truly need to keep an app private and away from prying eyes, consider using apps that let you have a private encrypted vault for confidential data.