How to Uninstall Apps on a Mac

Have you ever wondered how to uninstall an app on a Mac? If you’ve used a Windows device before, you may be used to uninstalling a program from Control Panel. Unfortunately, there’s no such option in macOS. Uninstalling an app is a bit easier, but not that obvious on a Mac.

The easiest method is to just delete the program or the app from the Applications folder. But more often than not, the app leaves some remnants behind. Take a look at the options below to learn how to uninstall apps on a Mac using several methods.

Uninstalling vs. Deleting Apps on a Mac

Uninstalling an app on macOS usually involves deleting it from the Applications folder. That may sound strange if you’re coming in from a Windows PC, but deleting an app on macOS won’t break anything. So whether you plan to “uninstall” or “delete” an app, you need to follow the same procedures below.

Option 1. Move Apps to the Trash

The simplest way to uninstall a program or app from your Mac is to drag the application to the Trash. Note that you must do this from the Applications folder in Finder; you can’t uninstall an app by dragging the app’s icon from the Dock to the Trash. Then, Control-click on the Trash icon in the Dock and select Empty Trash to delete the app permanently. If you can’t empty the Trash, make sure the application isn’t running in the background first.

This method removes all the app’s files from the Applications folder, which can sometimes be more than just the app itself. To see the contents of an app, Control-click on it and choose Show Package Contents.

While most apps will completely uninstall using this method, other apps might leave behind library or other related files. To get rid of everything from a given app, use the next method instead.

Option 2. Use AppCleaner to Fully Delete Apps

macOS deals with app files in two separate ways. In addition to the application itself, there are associated files spread across the file system. These can be in the Library folder, or in an associated folder in an entirely different location. To completely uninstall an app, you need to delete associated (junk) files as well. This will help you save storage space on your Mac and will also help your system run more smoothly.

AppCleaner is a free utility that helps you delete all associated files from an app. After opening AppCleaner, you’ll see a blank area where you can drop any app you want to uninstall. You can also use AppCleaner to delete unwanted apps that shipped with your Mac, such as iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, and more.

The best part about AppCleaner is the transparency it brings to the uninstallation process. Click on an app’s name, and you’ll see a list of all its associated files. The app will automatically select related files that are safe to delete.

You can also set up AppCleaner to automatically delete any associated Library files when you delete an app. To do this, open AppCleaner’s Preferences pane and switch to the SmartDelete tab. Then, toggle the switch to ON. Now, when you move an app to the Trash, you’ll see a popup asking if you want to move associated files to Trash as well. Just uncheck the items you don’t want to delete and select Remove.

Option 3. Use Dedicated App Uninstallers

When you download apps from certain companies, they come with their own installers. These apps install their own helper and update utilities, which makes it much harder to completely uninstall them down the line.

Adobe, in particular, makes the process unnecessarily complex. Even if you delete an Adobe app, the helper utility and menu bar app will still say put. Even using an app like AppCleaner won’t be helpful in these cases.

The only way to get rid of apps like this is to use their own uninstaller. First, open Spotlight (or Finder search), and search for the app name followed by “uninstaller.” If you find one, open it and start the uninstallation process. In this case, you can use Adobe Creative Cloud to help you delete different apps.

If you can’t find it on your Mac, do a Google search. Some apps will let you download an app-specific uninstaller to remove them.

Application resources are stored in the Library folder. These are files that an app requires to function properly. When you delete an app on your Mac, the related, or associated, files in the Library folder usually stay put, unless you’re using App Cleaner.

Messing around with Library files can be dangerous. If you delete a file that’s crucial to macOS, it can result in crashes and data loss. But if you know what you’re doing, and you only want to delete specific files related to an app, follow the steps below:

  1. The Library folder is hidden by default. To unhide it, open Finder and click on the Go button in the menu bar while holding the Option key. From the dropdown, click on Library.
  2. Now click on the Search button and enter the name of the app or the file you’re looking for. Click on the Library button to narrow down the search to the Library folder.
  3. When you find a related file, select it and move it to Trash. Once you’ve emptied the Trash, you’ll remove the file from your system.

Option 5. Uninstall Mac Apps Using the Terminal

Terminal is a powerful tool for taking matters into your own hands. Instead of downloading and trusting a third-party app, you can get the job done with just a command. Even if you’re brand new to Terminal, you can still use a simple command to uninstall an app. Just open Terminal from Applications > Utilities and type the following command:

sudo uninstall file://

Next, drag the application icon to the Terminal window and it will automatically enter the path of the app. Like so (the third slash before Applications is normal):

sudo uninstall file:///Applications/

Press Enter, input your password, and Terminal will uninstall the app for you. If you run into any trouble, use the following command instead:

sudo rm -rf 

Add a single space to the end of the command and drag the app into Terminal to input the path before pressing Enter. As an example:

sudo rm -rf /Applications/

Use caution while running the sudo rm -rf command. Inserting an incorrect path can lead to data loss.

Uninstalling an App on Your Mac Is Easy

Now you know how to uninstall apps on a Mac in every way imaginable. Usually, deleting an app will result in the app and all its data being completely removed from your Mac. But in the rare case that some data does remain, you can use any of the methods above to remove it from your Mac.

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