How to Uninstall Apps on Mac: A Comprehensive Guide


Over time, as you use your Mac, you accumulate various applications to help you work, play, and organize your digital life. While these apps are undoubtedly useful, there comes a time when you may need to uninstall some of them. Perhaps you want to free up storage space, declutter your Mac, or simply remove an app you no longer use. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various methods for uninstalling apps on your Mac, delve into related tips and considerations, and even touch upon third-party uninstaller applications.

Understanding the Basics: Uninstalling vs. Deleting Apps

Before we dive into the methods, it’s crucial to distinguish between uninstalling and deleting apps on your Mac. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different actions:

  1. Uninstalling Apps: This process removes the application and all associated files, including preferences, cache, and support files. Uninstalling an app ensures that no remnants of it are left behind.
  2. Deleting Apps: When you delete an app, you’re essentially removing its icon from the Applications folder. However, many related files, such as preferences and cache, may still linger on your Mac.

To maintain a clean and optimized system, it’s best to uninstall apps rather than simply deleting them. Now, let’s explore the various methods for uninstalling apps on your Mac:

Method 1: Uninstalling Apps Using Finder

One of the simplest methods for uninstalling apps is to use Finder. Here’s how:

  1. Open Finder: Click on the Finder icon in your dock or press Command (⌘) + Spacebar to open Spotlight Search, then type “Finder” and press Enter.
  2. Locate Applications: In the Finder window, navigate to the “Applications” folder. You can usually find it in the sidebar under “Favorites.”
  3. Find the App: Scroll through the list of installed apps to find the one you want to uninstall. Alternatively, you can use the Search bar in the upper-right corner to search for the app by name.
  4. Drag to Trash: Click and drag the app’s icon from the Applications folder to the Trash icon in your dock. Alternatively, you can right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash.”
  5. Empty Trash: To complete the uninstallation, right-click on the Trash icon and choose “Empty Trash.” Confirm the action in the dialog box that appears.

This method is suitable for most apps, especially those you’ve downloaded from the Mac App Store or installed manually. However, some apps may require additional steps for complete removal.

Method 2: Uninstalling Apps via Launchpad

Launchpad is another built-in tool that allows you to manage and uninstall apps, particularly those downloaded from the Mac App Store. Here’s how:

  1. Open Launchpad: Click on the Launchpad icon in your dock, which resembles a rocket.
  2. Find the App: Scroll through the grid of app icons to locate the one you want to uninstall. You can also use the Search bar at the top to search for the app by name.
  3. Delete the App: Click and hold the app’s icon until it starts shaking or shows an “X” icon in the corner.
  4. Uninstall: Click the “X” icon on the app you want to uninstall. A confirmation dialog will appear.
  5. Confirm: Click “Delete” or “OK” in the confirmation dialog to uninstall the app. Launchpad will remove the app, including any associated files.

Method 3: Uninstalling Apps with App Uninstallers (Third-Party)

While the methods mentioned above work for most apps, some applications may leave behind residual files even after using these built-in methods. To ensure complete and thorough uninstallation, you can consider using third-party uninstaller apps. These tools are specifically designed to remove not only the app but also its associated files, preferences, and caches. Some popular third-party uninstaller apps for Mac include:

  • AppCleaner: AppCleaner is a free and user-friendly uninstaller that helps you remove applications and their associated files with ease.
  • CleanMyMac X: CleanMyMac X is a comprehensive optimization tool that includes an uninstaller feature. It can help you uninstall apps and perform various maintenance tasks.
  • iTrash: iTrash is another dedicated uninstaller that ensures a thorough removal of applications and their leftovers.

When using third-party uninstaller apps, follow the specific instructions provided by the tool to uninstall apps effectively.

Method 4: Uninstalling Built-in and System Apps

Uninstalling built-in apps or system apps on macOS can be a bit trickier than regular third-party apps. Apple restricts the removal of some system apps to prevent potential issues. However, you can still disable them from appearing in your Applications folder or dock. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open Finder: Launch Finder by clicking on its icon in the dock or using Spotlight Search (Command + Spacebar).
  2. Navigate to Applications: Go to the “Applications” folder in Finder.
  3. Find the App: Locate the built-in or system app you want to disable. For example, if you want to disable the Calculator app, find it in the Applications folder.
  4. Right-Click and Move to a Different Folder: Right-click on the app and select “Make Alias.” This creates a shortcut to the app. You can then move this shortcut to a different folder or location outside the Applications folder.
  5. Hide from Dock: If the app is in your dock, right-click on its icon in the dock and select “Options” > “Remove from Dock.”

Please note that while this method hides the app from your view and prevents accidental use, it doesn’t fully uninstall the app or free up storage space.

Tips and Considerations for Uninstalling Apps on Mac

Now that you know how to uninstall apps on your Mac, here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind:

1. Check for App-Provided Uninstallers

Before resorting to third-party uninstaller apps, check if the app you want to uninstall provides its own uninstallation tool. Some apps, especially larger or more complex ones, include their own uninstallers that ensure a complete removal.

2. Back Up Important Data

Before uninstalling any app, consider backing up important data associated with it, such as documents, settings, or configurations. This ensures you don’t accidentally lose valuable information.

3. Be Cautious with System Apps

As mentioned earlier, be cautious when attempting to uninstall or disable built-in or system apps. Removing or altering these apps can lead to unexpected issues, and Apple typically restricts their removal.

4. Use a Reliable Third-Party Uninstaller

If you decide to use a third-party uninstaller app, choose one from a reputable source. Be cautious of apps that claim to be uninstallers but may contain malware or adware.

5. Regularly Review and Uninstall Unused Apps

To keep your Mac running smoothly and efficiently, make it a habit to review and uninstall apps you no longer use or need. This helps free up storage space and reduces clutter.

6. Restart Your Mac

After uninstalling apps, consider restarting your Mac. This can help ensure that any changes take effect, and it can refresh your system.

Conclusion: How to Uninstall Apps on Mac

Uninstalling apps on your Mac is a straightforward process, whether you’re using built-in methods like Finder or Launchpad or employing third-party uninstaller apps for more thorough removals. By mastering this skill, you can keep your Mac organized, optimize storage space, and maintain a clean and efficient system. Just remember to exercise caution when dealing with system apps and to back up important data before uninstalling any application. With these tips and considerations in mind, you’ll be able to manage your Mac’s applications with confidence.

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