Hunting down and erasing application leftovers scattered all over your Mac’s drive is time-consuming and downright frustrating. An average uninstaller is simply not fit for the job.
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If you are reading up on this topic, it is safe to assume that you have asked yourself that question once or twice already. Removing apps on Mac is not a baffling task by any means. In fact, it is so straightforward that it is almost too good to be true. The only condition for you to meet to uninstall programs from your Mac is that your account – the one you use to log in to your Mac – needs to have admin rights. Check whether you have the required rights by clicking on Apple Menu > System Preferences, and selecting Users & Groups, find your account on the left and make sure the box next to ‘Allow user to administer this computer’ is checked. You are good to go! With that out of the way, here is how you remove apps from your Mac.
Mac applications come in self-contained packages. All app files are usually located within a single folder hidden behind a dedicated icon in the Applications folder on your Mac. If you are curious what is inside, then right-click (or control-click) the icon and hit ‘Show Package Contents’. In order to uninstall an app of your choice simply drag the icon/folder to Trash (or hit command + delete after selecting the app) and enter admin password. That is it. Empty Trash and the app is forever deleted off your system.
There is one more way to remove apps, which you have downloaded off App Store. To get rid of an app, open up Launchpad, then click-and-hold any app until all icons start jiggling. You will notice that some apps - the ones you installed from the App Store - have ‘X’ buttons in the top left corner. Hit the ‘X’ to remove the app.
While removing apps takes almost no effort at all, it is important to know that in most cases you are not removing the entire app from your Mac. In reality, many files are getting left behind. These files store user data, preferred settings, etc. in order to run the app just the way you wanted it in case you choose to reinstall it in the future. On one hand, such application fragments do not take up much space or harm your system (yet). On the other hand though, why would anyone want to keep something they are never going to use again? These remaining application files can be removed manually if you have extra time at hand, but are best delete using Apple cleaning software to save time and prevent unintenional mistakes.
Uninstalling built-in applications that you do not use may seem very tempting at times, especially if you like to keep things tidy and on-point on your Apple computer. However, it is altogether not worth it. Take the built-in Chess app for example. You may not be a chess person, so removing it may seem like a logical thing to do. When attempting to delete the app you will run into a system message ‘Chess cannot be modified or deleted because it’s required by MacOS’. Bummer. You may now be wondering – and you are not alone – ‘how in the world is Chess required by the system?’ All pre-installed apps are integrated in the
system – they are called ‘built-in’ for a reason after all – and are interlinked with one another. Safari links with iTunes and App Store for example. Calendar and Mail apps have some kind of connection too. Regardless, system apps take hardly any space – the Chess app is only 8.7 Mb – which makes hardly any difference on modern drives. If you are looking to delete something to get more space, consider removing GarageBand Sound Library (if you do not use it of course), which takes a ton of space.
Exceptions happen to almost all kinds of rules – some apps do not follow the usual (easy) pattern of uninstallation. For instance, security and anti-virus programs, device sync software, apps from Adobe and Microsoft may install components beyond their dedicated folder. In addition to the application itself, preferences and support items, and sometimes hidden files or kernel extensions are installed to your system. This can make the process of removal quite a bit more tedious. Software of this kind is supposed to come with its own uninstaller, which you will need to run to fully delete the app from your Mac. For Adobe software for example, you will need to open up Adobe Creative Cloud from your menu bar, choose ‘Apps’, click the ‘Settings’ icon next to the Adobe app you want to remove, and select ‘Uninstall’. If you are running into trouble when deleting a particular app, your best shot is Googling for an app-specific guide to deal with the issues.
You found yourself switching software often and the feeling of leftover app data makes you uncomfortable? Here is how to locate files that have been left behind and delete them from your Mac once and for all. In order to do that, get to /Library on your hard drive and look for files and folders that contain app or vendor name of the program you are planning to remove (e.g. Photoshop, Excel, or Adobe, Microsoft). Select the files and delete them. In case you are unsure, whether the files are safe to delete, do not Empty Trash just yet. Try running other applications from that same vendor to see if nothing had been corrupted. If you run into errors that have not been there before, then simply recover the files from Trash. After dealing with the main /Library folder move onto checking for unwanted files in all of the following locations:
Note, that some locations may not have any files associated with the app you are removing. Once you are done going through the list, follow the same steps to clear User Library inside your Home folder:
You will not need to delete anything else for a vast majority of the applications out there.
Tracking down all the junk that some applications leave behind is already frustrating enough. What makes it worse is that some applications install Hidden files (name starts with a period (.)), which are not displayed in the Finder by default. You will need to use Terminal in chosen locations to bring up those files to be able to delete them. Hunting down the junk on your drive becomes even more of a challenge when you are trying to recall which apps you have deleted in the past. An overall easier and faster way of cleaning up your Mac’s drive is downloading uninstaller software. MacFly Pro, for instance, makes tracking and erasing junk a breeze. Open MacFly Pro and select Leftovers, hit Scan to find files left behind by various applications. Review Files after the scan is finished and make sure you have all the unneeded junk selected. Click Clean Now — easy. You can also use MacFly Pro to completely uninstall apps along with their additional files. Choose Apps and click on Scan. Review the results and pick applications to uninstall, hit Uninstall Selected. The apps you have selected are now safely and fully removed from your Mac.