Apple unveils a new MacBook Air during an Apple launch event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Oct. 30, 2018 in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Difficult to delete Mac apps. Experienced Mac users can use the command-line to seek out and remove unwanted fragments. A slightly less dangerous way is with a graphical file.

Removing programs from a Macintosh can be very easy. In many cases, all you have to do is drag the application's icon to the Trash. Sometimes, though, applications store the files they need to run in other locations on your computer's hard drive, and finding them can take some detective work. If you are used to the uninstall option in Windows, you have a little culture shock — macOS does not have this feature built in.

Why would you want to uninstall a program? For the same reason you occasionally tidy your office or clean your garage. Clutter breeds inefficiency. Applications take up space on your hard disk and can slow your computer. Also, a new version of a program may not work correctly unless you get rid of the old one [source: Ritchie].



Most of the time, uninstalling is this simple:

  1. Exit the program you want to delete.
  2. Open the Applications folder, which you'll find by opening a new window in the Finder, or clicking on the hard disk icon.
  3. Drag the icon of the program you want to uninstall to the Trash.
  4. Empty the Trash.

When files for the application you want to delete are all stored in one location, dragging the icon to the Trash will take care of most of the work. In Mac talk, apps like this are 'bundled.' To see the files in an application's bundle, click on its icon while holding down the Control key. You should see an option that says, 'show package contents.' Uninstalling applications downloaded from the Mac App Store is even easier — just delete the application from the Applications Folder and its accompanying folder in UserLibraryContainers [source: Tanous].

Install Uninstall Apps

For some other programs, removal is more complicated. When installed, these programs create files in several locations, often in the System Folder. The first step in removing them is to check the program's documentation to see if there is an uninstall utility. If your program has an uninstall utility associated with it, it may have been installed with the program or included on the disk that came with it. If you downloaded a disk image to install the software, sometimes you'll find an uninstaller there. Running an uninstall utility can make removing a program much easier.

You should be aware that removing an unbundled program by moving it into the Trash can leave behind orphan files on your computer. Preferencefiles are usually small and you might want to ignore them if you're just trying to free up disk space. Background files or support files can be larger, especially for multimedia programs like GarageBand [source: MacRumors]. These files are likely to reside in Library folders in your hard drive or Home folder. They will usually be labeled with the name of the program, like Office or Acrobat, or the developer, such as Microsoft or Adobe. You can search for the relevant names using Spotlight, which is included with the Mac OS. Drag the files you find to the trash to get rid of them [source: Tanous]. .

Check out the next page for tips to make your uninstallation go even more smoothly.


If searching through obscure corners of your computer for what could be hundreds of files sounds like something a machine could do better than you, you're right. There are plenty of software programs that do just that. They're usually your best bet for really cleaning an app off your Mac, and some of them are free. Popular examples include AppTrap, Appcleaner, and AppZapper.

Some of the files that a program might create on your hard disk are invisible. It may be tempting, especially for neat freaks, to find and delete these files. But some files are deliberately hidden because they are essential to the computer's operating system. Deleting the wrong file could land you in deep trouble [source: Landau]. The best advice is not to go where even experienced techies fear to tread. Uninstall utilities can search out and destroy these files, but doing so on your own invites trouble.



Another important thing to do is empty your Trash when you're finished uninstalling. Moving a program's icon to the Trash doesn't actually remove the files from your hard disk or clear up any space. Only when you empty the Trash is the application really gone.

Install uninstall apps

Here are some other important tips:

  • When you install a program, check to see how to uninstall it. Make a note if it has its own uninstall utility or instructions.
  • Before you begin any uninstalling process, check to make sure your Trash is empty or contains nothing you might want to save.
  • Log on as your computer's administrator whenever you uninstall. If you're uninstalling at work and don't have administrator privileges, you'll have to consult with your tech people [source: Ritchie].
  • If you opt for a third-party uninstall utility, look at the features. Some developers charge for their software, but you may not need the bells and whistles. Free utilities may work fine.
  • It often makes sense to leave preference files alone. If you ever reinstall the same software, you won't have to set the preferences.
  • Suites of software from a developer, such as the Office suite from Microsoft, often share files. Removing the files of one component may affect the others, so it's good to be cautious with these [source: The X Lab].
  • If, after you remove a program, the icon is still in your dock, you can get rid of it by simply dragging it off the dock and letting it go [source: Tech-FAQ].

Removing software from your Mac is a lot less of a hassle than cleaning your office or garage. But clearing away computer clutter and making space on your hard disk can be just as satisfying.

Uninstall Apps On Mac Os

Originally Published: Aug 8, 2011


Related Articles


  • Landau, Ted. 'Tutorial: Now you see 'em, now you don't: Invisible files in Mac OS X,', May 19, 2004. (Feb. 14, 2019)
  • FacRumors. 'Uninstalling Applications in Mac OS X,' (Feb. 16, 2019)
  • Ritchie, David. 'How to Uninstall Mac Programs,' October 13, 2010. (Feb. 16, 2019)
  • Tanous, Jim. 'How to Uninstall & Remove Mac OS X Programs and Applications,' The Mac Observer. Feb. 1, 2013. (Feb. 16, 2019)
  • Tech-FAQ. 'How to Uninstall Programs on a Mac,' (Feb. 16, 2019)
  • The X Lab. 'Uninstalling applications,' (Feb. 16, 2019)
System cleanup in one click
Make your Mac fast and secure with CleanMyMac X.

Your Mac is a perfect Jobs-To-Be-Done machine if it has the right software on it. Unfortunately, this is never the case with a new Mac that comes with tons of obsolete programs like DVD Seriously, who needs a DVD player if modern Macs don’t even have DVD drives anymore?

This is why the first thing you do is replacing native programs with your favorite apps. After all, the point of the Mac App Store and third-party developers is to improve on the apps that Apple provides as defaults or even create new possibilities outright.

It’s not a good idea to put the new software over the defaults, though. You might notice that your Mac’s performance has taken a hit or that it’s become too hard to find the app you’re looking for amidst all this mess. Naturally, to remedy the situation you need to learn how to uninstall native applications on Mac. There’s no easy way to do it, but we know the workarounds.

Let CMM X delete the clutter

Download CleanMyMac X — along with 170 other tools on Setapp — and remove unneeded applications in seconds.

How To Delete Apps On Mac Easily

Good news is that most apps are located in your Mac’s Applications folder and are super easy to delete:

  1. Open the Applications folder by navigating to your menu bar and then selecting Go ➙ Applications or using a shortcut ⌘ + Shift + A

  2. Select the app or utility you want to delete

  3. Go to File ➙ Move to Trash or use a shortcut ⌘ + Delete

This method should work for 80% of all the apps out there. But some apps are more expansive and feature various folders and files throughout your system, which won’t get deleted if you simply get rid of a single file in Applications.

In this case, good developers usually leave a readme.txt file that specifies how to uninstall program on Mac correctly or include a special Mac uninstall application that you can run to do all the work for you.

If none of the above works as a solution for how to uninstall from Mac for you, we need to dive deeper into, for example, how to delete apps on Mac that won't delete. Read on!

Best ways to delete apps on Mac

As lots of programs leave their support files all over your Mac (and it’s hard to tell which ones do or don’t), it’s important to uninstall applications on Mac completely and not just delete them from the Applications folder. To do that, you need a software like CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X is one of the best optimization utilities for Mac in the world. It’s able to rid your Mac off any unneeded files and fix all the settings to bring it to its speedy brand new state. It’s also proficient in the problem of how to uninstall apps on Mac, deleting the app itself and any files associated with it throughout your system:

  1. In the sidebar, navigate to the Uninstaller

  2. Click View Applications

  3. Filter apps by Vendors, Stores, or type (e.g. it’s now safe to delete any 32-bit apps since they don’t even launch on macOS Catalina and later)

  4. Select the apps you don’t want anymore and hit Uninstall

Now all the selected apps and their files are completely gone from your system, creating lots of free space. You might notice though that CleanMyMac X doesn’t show you any apps installed on your Mac by default, so you might wonder how to uninstall apps that have been on your Mac right from the start?

Get rid of default Mac apps

While default Apple apps are fine for beginners, with time you discover more and more third-party software that suits you better. And when that’s the case, why keep all those default apps around stealing precious space?

Some pre-installed apps — GarageBand or iMovie — can be deleted just like any other app and then recovered from the App Store in case you ever need them again.

Some other apps, however, are crucial to your macOS and won’t go away after a simple ⌘ + Delete. For example, Mail or Notes or Books. So how to uninstall Mail on Mac? Or, more generally, how to delete apps on Mac that won't delete?

If you’re tech savvy, you might think that using Terminal might help you, by using its remove command. But no. Since macOS El Capitan, all those apps are under the System Integrity Protection, and that’s what you need to disable to delete them.

We’re now getting into a tricky territory that’s not easy to recover from, so proceed only if you truly hate those built-in apps:

  1. Restart your Mac in Recovery Mode by pressing ⌘ + R

  2. Once the machine boots up, click Utilities ➙ Terminal

  3. In Terminal, type csrutil disable

  4. Restart your Mac

  5. Navigate to the Applications folder and delete any apps you absolutely don’t need

  6. Restart the Mac in Recovery Mode and type csrutil enable in Terminal and restart once more

Apple Terminal App

If you happen to delete a default app that you need to use again, you will unfortunately have to reinstall your macOS, since there’s no way to simply download those apps from anywhere.

Sometimes, you don’t need to delete your apps completely to free up space. It’s possible that if you’re searching for how to uninstall Mail on Mac, what you really need is to simply delete all the mail attachments that got downloaded to your Mac over time. This is very easy to do with CleanMyMac X:

  1. Navigate to Mail Attachments in the sidebar

  2. Click Scan ➙ Review Details

  3. Uncheck any files you want to keep

  4. Hit Clean

Now that your Mail is just a fraction of its size after purging all the attachments, maybe you don’t need to delete it after all.

Recover deleted apps and files on Mac

So if reinstalling macOS is how you get all the deleted default apps back, is there a way to recover an accidentally removed third-party app or its associated files? Luckily, yes!

Disk Drill is an essential recovery utility that has saved terabytes of data from being gone forever. It’s strongly recommended to always keep it handy on your Mac and launch it as soon as you notice an important app or file missing and then click Recover next to the appropriate hard drive.

The sooner you try to recover your files the better your chances are for doing so successfully. But the most foolproof way of never losing anything important is doing regular backups.

Frequently back up your Mac

When you delete something on your Mac it gets cut into thousands of little pieces, which in turn get quickly overwritten by other apps and files. So putting it all together again is hard work that’s never even guaranteed.

Instead, if you only had a solid backup from that day, you can just roll back to that exact state quickly without losing any data whatsoever. That’s why regular backups are crucial.

Keep your data safe, always

While removing the clutter, make sure you never delete anything important. Install Get Backup Pro and always have a fresh data backup.

Get Backup Pro is one of the most versatile and powerful backup managers on the market. It lets you pick the kind of backup you want (copy, clone, incremental, or versioned) and schedule it at the right interval. Plus, you don’t have to back up your whole Mac — you can just choose the most important files, folders, and apps.

To start backing up files with Get Backup Pro:

  1. Navigate to the Backup tab within the app on the left

  2. Click the plus (+) icon below to create a new backup

  3. Use the gear icon to set the correct schedule

  4. Add files you want to back up with File+

  5. Hit the play icon when you’re ready to start the backup process

Completely Uninstall Application Mac Terminal

Now you know lots of ways for how to uninstall apps on Mac. In addition, you have the exact toolset for slimming down your Mail app and recovering accidentally deleted files. And if you configure your backup process, you don’t have to worry about messing up your Mac ever again!

Best of all, CleanMyMac X, Disk Drill, and Get Backup Pro are available to you absolutely free for seven days with the trial of Setapp, a groundbreaking platform with over 150 Mac apps across all categories that you can get on demand, only when you need them, without using up your drive. The perfect solution for all the storage-conscious Mac users.

Setapp lives on Mac and iOS. Please come back from another device.

Meantime, prepare for all the awesome things you can do with Setapp.

Read on

Sign Up

Setapp uses cookies to personalize your experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our cookie policy.

Uninstall Apps On Mac Terminal