Galaxy S3 – Change the Default SMS App to Prevent Images Showing as Slideshows [ROOT]

Sense Style with Avatars

A few months ago, I ditched my iPhone and jumped on the Android bandwagon with the purchase of a Samsung Galaxy S3. As a geek and technology junkie, I absolutely love the S3. It’s powerful, yet lightweight. It has a huge screen, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome or unnatural when you’re using it. Not to mention that it has more sensors than your local Radio Shack. Since I started using my S3, I’ve only had a few minor complaints. The thing that bugged me the most is how the S3 displays all MMS messages as “slideshows”, which is not only clunky, but prevents you from zooming or panning images. The good news is that if you’ve rooted your phone you can fix this problem in about five minutes.

Samsung SMS app vs. Android SMS app

The MMS-as-slideshow “feature” was implemented exclusively by Samsung, and is not a native Android feature. I’ve not seen or heard of another non-Samsung Android device that uses this functionality. That being the case, to fix this problem all we have to do is replace the Samsung SMS app with one of the native Android SMS apps.

Before you get started…

I’ve only found one drawback to replacing the Samsung SMS app: the “Direct Call” motion will no longer work from inside of a text message (bringing the phone to your ear to automatically call the person you’re messaging). I never really used this feature, so it wasn’t a problem for me.

What You Need

  • A rooted Galaxy S3
  • A file explorer app with root access — Try ES File Explorer or Root Browser.
  • One of the native Android SMS apps to use as a replacement (see below)

Step 1 – Download a new SMS App

All of the following apps are basically the same. They only vary in how they look, and the features they include (timestamps, avatars, etc). Choose the one you like best.

  1. Download the style you want to use from the links below. Open the zip file and extract system/app/Mms.apk to your computer.
  2. Copy Mms.apk to your phone (either to the internal SD card, or an external card)

ICS - Blue on Black

ICS Blue on Black

This theme was made to match the default Ice Cream Sandwich theme. It includes user avatars and message timestamps.

Download ICS Blue on Black

Sense Style with Avatars

Sense Style with Avatars

This is the theme that I decided to use. It’s a clone of the HTC Sense MMS style, and includes user avatars and message timestamps.

Download Sense Style with Avatars

Iphone Style

iPhone Style

If, for some strange reason, you want your text messages to look like an iPhone’s, then this theme is for you. It has timestamps, but no user avatars.

Download iPhone Style with Timestamps

Step 2 – Locate and Backup the default SMS App

  1. Open your file explorer app and navigate to: /system/app
  2. Find SecMms.apk and rename it to something like SecMms.BAK.apk.
  3. Look for a file named SecMms.odex (it may not exist if you’re not using a stock rom). If this file exists, delete it.

Step 3 – Replace the Default SMS App

  1. Copy the new Mms.apk from your SD card to the /system/app directory
  2. Rename it to SecMms.apk
  3. Change the permissions on SecMms.apk to match rw-r-r-
    note: You might get some errors about force closing the MMS app. This is normal, and nothing to worry about.
  4. Reboot your phone for the new MMS app to take effect


Mike Everhart

Mike Everhart is a programmer, web developer, and owner of PlasticBrain Media LLC. He has a passion for startups and creating web-based applications to help them analyze, streamline, and automate their business processes. Mike has nearly 15 years of experience, and specializes in standards-based web design, programming, SEO, and SaaS.

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