Mac Performance

How to Uninstall Apps on Mac

Uninstalling Mac apps should be as easy as dragging their icons to the Trash. Alas, it’s often not quite that straightforward. If you uninstall apps on your Mac incorrectly, the installation files and other data can remain on your hard disk, occupying valuable storage space.

 

Yes, apps with a convenient automatic uninstaller do exist, but these things aren’t always provided. In most cases, you need to take a few extra steps to remove an app from your Mac completely. Our guide will show you how.

 

 

Before we start

 

MacKeeper includes an advanced Smart Uninstaller tool that helps you get rid of unused apps, widgets, plugins, browser extensions, and more.

 

To completely uninstall multiple apps in one swoop:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Go to the Smart Uninstaller tab.
  3. Click Start Scan.
  4. Go to Applications and select the ones you don't use.
  5. Click Remove Selected.

That’s all it takes to completely remove an app from your machine. You can enjoy a one-time app cleanup for free without activating the full version.

Should you uninstall apps on Mac?

Before we look at how to erase apps on Mac, let’s look at why you might want to do it in the first place. Here are a few top reasons:

  • Clear disk space on your Mac.
  • Stop unwanted apps running in the background and slowing down your machine.
  • Get rid of apps that may contain malware.
  • Take away games or apps that ruin your productivity.
  • Tidy your Applications folder.
  • Remove apps that don’t work or cause incompatibility issues.
  • Clear out expired trial and subscription apps.
  • Remove Apple Silicon (M1, M2, etc.) apps that don’t work on your Intel Mac.

Note that when you remove apps from Dock, they’re still installed on your Mac.

How to delete apps from MacBook

Correctly uninstalling a Mac app not only frees up space on your hard drive, but it also improves your Mac’s performance and speed. We’ll show you how to manually uninstall your Mac apps:

1. Uninstall Mac apps using Trash

The default way to uninstall applications on Mac is to send them to the macOS Trash (known as the Bin in some regions). Emptying the Trash will then delete apps permanently.

How to remove a program using Trash most effectively

Follow these steps to erase apps using your Mac’s built-in Trash feature:

  1. Go to your Applications folder in Finder. Find the app you want to delete, then click and drag it to the Trash icon in your Dock.
  2. Alternatively, right the app and select Send to Trash. Or select it and press Cmd + Backspace.
  3. Right-click the Trash and select Empty Trash. You can also press Cmd + Shift + Backspace.
  4. Click Empty Trash.
You can delete apps from your Mac by dragging them to your Trash or Bin in your Dock. You will still need to empty your Trash.
Step 1. Drag the app to Trash
You can also delete applications on your Mac by right-clicking them and then selecting 'Move to Trash' or 'Move to Bin'.
Step 2. Use the context menu
Once you've sent an app to your Trash or Bin, you need to empty it out to delete the app permanently. Right-click your Trash and select 'Empty Trash'.
Step 3. Empty the Trash
To confirm the removal of files in your Trash, click the 'Empty Bin' button. You won't be able to recover these files, so make sure you're certain.
Step 4. Confirm deletion

2. Remove apps from a Mac using Launchpad

Launchpad allows you to find, organize, and open the apps on your Mac. It also lets you uninstall programs. This is only available for applications that were downloaded from the App Store — that is, those that are officially recommended for installation on Mac devices.

How to uninstall an app from a Mac with Launchpad

When you uninstall programs using Launchpad, it not only sends them to the Trash, but it also deletes all their additional files from your Mac. To remove an app with the help of Launchpad:

  1. Open Launchpad through the Dock, through a Mac search, using the F4 key, or by pinching all your fingers together if you use a trackpad.
  2. Hold down the Opt key. When the icons begin to move, a small cross may appear in the corner of some apps. If the cross is there, click on it.
  3. Click Delete to confirm.
Launchpad lets you do various things including managing and deleting apps that have been installed through the Mac App Store.
Step 1. Open Launchpad
Press and the Opt key on your keyboard and the Launchpad icons will all start to shake. Click the X icon if you see one.
Step 2. Hold down Opt
To confirm that you want to remove an app, click the Delete button. This will skip the Trash, so you will have to download the app again if you want it back.
Step 3. Confirm removal

3. Delete apps on a Mac using Finder

Finder is a utility that displays folders, files, and apps on a Mac. This also includes the data stored on iCloud Drive and even on external devices. Finder lets you organize the entire array of files on your computer, including cleaning data storage, and you can also use it to uninstall software on your Mac. Using advanced search, you can locate the program that you want to delete, and the files associated with it.

How to use Finder to uninstall apps

Using Finder, you can quickly locate apps and leftover files, which you can then delete:

  1. In Finder, use the search bar in the top right to find the app you want to remove. Send it to Trash and empty your Trash.
  2. Next, in Finder, select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar, type ~/Library/, and hit click Go. Search for any folders with the same name as the app you deleted.
  3. To delete the folder with leftovers, control-click on its name and select Move to Trash from the drop-down menu, then open Bin and empty it.
In Finder, select Go > Go to Folder in the menu bar. From there, navigate to your Library folder, where you can find leftover files.
Step 1. Go to Folder
Look through the Library folder for anything that has your deleted app's name in it. You can then delete these too, like any other kind of files.
Step 2. Find leftover in your Library
Send files left over from deleted to your Mac's Trash, then empty the trash. This will enable to fully remove apps from your system.
Step 3. Delete leftover files

4. Delete apps using Terminal

Terminal is the macOS command-line tool. That means you can enter text commands to control all kinds of features of your Mac, view information about your hardware and software, and much more. Among Terminal’s many uses, it can remove apps from your Mac.

How to use Terminal to uninstall apps

To delete programs using Terminal, follow these steps:

  1. To open Terminal, go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Type rm -r into the command line.
  3. Go to the Applications folder in Finder and drag the icon of the app that you wish to uninstall into the Terminal window — it'll automatically paste itself. Hit Enter to delete the app.
Open the Terminal app from the Utilities folder
Step 1. Open Terminal
In the Terminal window, drag the application to the Terminal window
Step 2. Move app to Terminal
In the Terminal window, type in the Type rm -r command
Step 3. Type rm -r command

Why is it so hard to uninstall programs on Mac?

With many apps, basic removal on Macs is fairly easy. You drag the app to your Trash, empty your Trash, and the deleted app never rears its head again. However, there are some situations where properly removing apps can be difficult:

  1. Apps often create data and files, which they store in other parts of your Mac. These traces can be hard to find and get rid of.
  2. Sometimes, apps and their associated files may be locked, making them harder to delete.
  3. Malware may hide apps or make them difficult to remove fully.
  4. If your Mac is infected with ransomware, it can lock files and prevent them from being uninstalled.
  5. Some software will come with widgets, browser add-ons, and startup items. These sometimes get left behind, even after you delete an app.
  6. Built-in apps that come preinstalled with macOS can’t be removed in the normal way. It’s possible to delete default apps, but to maintain the health of your Mac, be careful when doing it.
  7. If you’re not the Mac’s owner or system admin, you may not be allowed to uninstall or install apps. In such a situation, only system managers can make these changes.

How to uninstall applications automatically

Macintosh apps have a habit of leaving behind old data, including caches, settings, and more. You can search for these manually and then delete them, but it’s a time-consuming and laborious process—those leftover files could be anywhere.

 

You can save yourself a lot of trouble by using dedicated apps that can automatically erase apps and their associated files.

Use a dedicated uninstaller

Whether you have an iMac, MacBook Air, or Mac mini, a dedicated app deleter is a handy tool to have in your arsenal.

 

Note that uninstaller tools will scan your Mac’s storage, so you should use a trusted solution to protect your privacy. You’ll be glad to hear MacKeeper is notarized by Apple, so it’s malware-free and safe to use. Its advanced Smart Uninstaller tool helps you get rid of unused apps, browser extensions, and more.

How to get rid of apps using MacKeeper

Here’s how to use its Smart Uninstaller to permanently remove apps from your Mac desktop or laptop, while also getting rid of unwanted leftovers:

  1. Open MacKeeper, and select Smart Uninstaller from the sidebar.
  2. Click Start Scan.
  3. When the scan is finished, select the app or apps you want to delete. Click Remove Selected.
  4. Click Remove to confirm.
  5. When MacKeeper is finished, it will show a summary of how much space you’ve saved.
Open MacKeeper, then choose Smart Uninstaller from the sidebar. From there, you'll be able to quickly remove apps you don't want.
Step 1. Open Smart Uninstaller
Click the 'Start Scan' button. MacKeeper's Smart Uninstaller will search your Mac for apps that can be safely removed.
Step 2. Click Start Scan
MacKeeper will present you with a list of apps that you can remove from you Mac. Select the ones you want to delete and click 'Remove Selected'.
Step 3. Select apps to remove
To confirm that you want to remove the app or apps from your Mac, click the 'Remove' button that appears on screen.
Step 4. Confirm removal
When Smart Uninstaller has finished deleting the app or apps, it will show you a summary, including how space you've saved.
Step 5. See how much space you've saved

Hint from our team:

 

If you’re a visual learner—click and watch our YouTube tutorial!

FAQ

1. What programs need to be removed?

This is determined by what software is installed on your Mac and what tasks you need to perform. We recommend deleting:

  • Apps downloaded from untrustworthy websites
  • Apps that take up too much RAM
  • Apps you aren’t using
  • Apps that have the same functions as other installed apps
  • Games, social media, and other distractions that get in the way of your work
  • Old trials and subscriptions that have expired
  • Unsupported apps made for other versions of macOS—a Ventura app may not work on Monterey, Catalina, High Sierra, Big Sur, Mojave, El Capitan, Yosemite, or Sonoma.

2. Why can't you uninstall a program on your Mac?

Usually, there should be no issue when uninstalling apps on Mac. Sometimes, you may find you can remove a program. Common reasons include:

  • The app is a default, built-in app required by macOS.
  • You don’t have permission to remove apps.
  • Malware is preventing you from making changes.
  • An uninstalled app is still running login items or background processes.
  • Files may be locked, preventing the removal of apps.

3. How do you force-delete on a Mac?

You can use Terminal to uninstall an app on Mac that is stuck or delete files completely:

  1. Open Terminal in Applications > Utilities.
  2. Use the command rm -r.
  3. Drag the app into the Terminal window to paste it into the file path.
  4. Press Enter.

4. What to do if you accidentally delete an application?

First, check your Trash. If you haven’t emptied it, your deleted files may be in there, letting you quickly restore them.

 

If you’re unable to get your app back that way, it's possible to restore it from a Time Machine backup. Of course, that only works if you’ve actually set up a Time Machine.

Apps and files downloaded from the internet and official Apple sources (i.e., the App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple Books) are usually available to download again.

 

If the removed app was part of macOS, then you can reset the operating system to get the app back.

5. Do you need uninstallers for specific apps if you have a special cleaning program installed?

Some apps offer special utilities you can use to totally uninstall them, performing system storage cleanup and removing all the system files at the same time. You don’t normally need to use these unless the methods we described above fail to uninstall your app.

 

If this is the case, our advice is to download the proper utility from the developers’ website to erase apps. It’s probably best to do this right away—don’t keep the “undeletable” application, even if it seems for now that it doesn’t influence the operation of your Mac in any way. Otherwise, you may run into a sudden storage shortage later, and it’ll be harder to figure out what’s causing it.

 

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