Removing an application on macOS can be quite easy, and complicated as well. It all depends on which programs you want to get rid of. Sometimes a simple drag-and-drop to Trash is enough, while other times you’ll need more efforts to completely uninstall them.
Today we’re going to show you four different methods to permanently delete apps you no longer need. Some methods may be more efficient than others, we’ll also explain their best use cases.
What Can You Get from Uninstalling Mac Apps?
Getting rid of unused or unneeded programs helps you regain more free disk space as well as enhance the overall performance of your Mac. A clean Mac is better than a cluttered one.
Perhaps you’ve installed trials of commercial software, and you are not ready to buy it when the trial ends, or you installed a game and never got time to play it again. Chances are those inactive Mac apps are not being patched and kept up to date, which also means your Mac may be left more vulnerable to be exploited. Even worse, if those apps have been set to auto startup when your Mac boots up — they are slowing down Mac startup time.
Also, malware and adware are not uncommon on Mac machines. Many download sites (other than the Mac App Store) bundle third-party plugins or programs to the freeware you download and install on your Mac. It turns out those plugins start to inject sneaky ads into your web browsers, hurting your internet surfing experience.
Removing those third-party programs and services will help make your Mac much secure and faster. In addition, you get more storage space to save stuff you love, e.g. pictures, videos, documents, etc.
How to Uninstall Programs on Mac
Method 1: Manually Uninstall Mac Apps
Best to use when: you only have a few apps to remove, and they are downloaded from the App Store or their official websites.
For apps downloaded from the Mac App Store, just go to Launchpad by clicking the icon in the Dock or pinching the thumb and three fingers together on the Trackpad. Find the app you want to remove, hold down its icon until you see it jiggles, then hit the “X” button to delete it.
For apps downloaded from other websites, on your desktop, click Go > Applications, find the programs you want to remove, drag them to the Trash (or use Command + Del). Then open Trash and hit Empty Trash option. That’s it.
Next, clean their remnant files and folders. Some programs may have created additional files or folders when you installed them. It’s best to clean them as well. To do so, click Go > Library. Here find the items related to these programs and remove them all. Be sure to look up the ~/Library/, ~/Library/Application Support/ and ~/Library/Preferences/ folders.
Note: if you want to remove applications that were installed using the Mac package installers (on a .pkg format), you’ll be prompted to enter the user password before they are moved to the Trash.
Method 2: Use CleanMyMac Uninstaller
Best to use when: you have a list of apps to uninstall and you’ve no idea what they are. Also, you don’t the time to remove them one by one.
We recommend using CleanMyMac, an app that’s originally designed to clean up Mac drive but also has a nice utility called Uninstaller (see screenshot below) that can be used to quickly scan your Mac for a list of apps, then you just select those you want to delete, and hit the Uninstall button in one go. It’s a lot easier. The app can also detect and remove bundled plugins as well.
Not only deleting unwanted programs, CleanMyMac also allows you to deep clean other unnecessary files and items that you probably don’t need. Our team uses this app on a regular basis and is quite happy about it.
Method 3: Uninstall Specific Apps That Are Hard to Be Removed
Best to use when: you have problems removing a specific app using normal methods.
Some apps may not be easily uninstalled due to reasons like software crashes or errors. In this case, you can perform a quick search on Google: “uninstaller for [name of the app]”, most likely you’ll find relevant uninstaller or uninstallation instructions provided by the official developer.
For example, to get rid of Adobe Flash on Mac, Adobe actually offers a special uninstaller for Mac users. Another example, since Oracle Java has always been security holes, a quick search would bring you to this page, where a helpful guide can be found on how to uninstall Java using the Terminal (command line).
Unfortunately, not all software developers are like Adobe and Oracle, you may not be able to find such information for certain apps.
Method 4: Remove Adware and Malware
Best to use when: your Mac has adware or other third-party malicious apps.
What we like MacBooster most is that not only it provides an Uninstaller that can be used to remove apps thoroughly and quickly, but it also has an anti-malware feature that keeps your Mac away from spyware, virus, adware, malware and other kinds of threats. Besides, it does a fantastic job in system cleaning — to boost Mac performance (like its name indicates).
If you love your Mac, it’s a good habit to regularly organize your Mac files and uninstall apps you no longer use. Unlike Windows 10, Apple macOS does provide a more intuitive way for us to quickly remove third-party programs. However, the ways apps are designed and developed can be complicated, it’s sometimes hard to completely get rid of an app manually — especially those annoying crapware or adware. Fortunately, there are solutions to solve problems.
We hope you find the techniques we introduced above helpful. Don’t forget to let us know if you have any issues applying them, or if you get to know a new solution.
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.