How to Uninstall Apps on Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Uninstall Apps on Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Luca Fanicchia

To uninstall apps on a Mac might seem like a straightforward task, but it can be a bit confusing for beginners. Whether you need to free up disk space or remove an application you no longer use, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the various methods to uninstall apps on your Mac.

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Method 1: Using the Trash Can

The Trash Can method is the most common and straightforward way to uninstall apps on a Mac. It’s suitable for most applications, whether they were downloaded from the App Store or installed from other sources.

  • Open Finder: To get started, click on the Finder icon in your Dock or press Command (⌘) + Spacebar to open Spotlight Search, then type “Finder” and hit Enter.
  • Navigate to Applications: In the Finder window, you’ll find a list of folders on the left sidebar. Select “Applications.” This is where all your installed applications are located.
  • Drag and Drop: Now, scroll through the list of applications until you find the one you want to uninstall. To remove it, simply drag and drop its icon into the Trash icon in your Dock. Alternatively, you can right-click on the app’s icon and select “Move to Trash.”
  • Empty the Trash: To complete the uninstallation process, right-click on the Trash icon in your Dock and choose “Empty Trash.” You’ll be prompted to confirm the action. Once confirmed, the app and its associated files will be permanently deleted from your Mac.

This method ensures that both the app and its related files are removed from your system.

Method 2: Using Launchpad

If you prefer a more visual approach to uninstalling apps, you can use Launchpad, which offers an interface similar to iOS app management.

  • Open Launchpad: Click on the Launchpad icon in your Dock or use a pinch-to-zoom gesture on your trackpad to open Launchpad.
  • Find the App: Scroll through the grid of app icons or use the search bar at the top to find the application you want to uninstall.
  • Hold and Click: Click and hold the app’s icon until it starts to jiggle, and an “x” icon appears in the upper-left corner of the app’s icon.
  • Click the “x” Icon: Click the “x” icon to uninstall the app. If the app was downloaded from the App Store, it will be uninstalled immediately. For non-App Store apps, you will be prompted to confirm the removal.

This method is user-friendly and suitable for those who prefer a more visual way of managing their applications.

Method 3: Using the App’s Uninstaller

Some applications come with their uninstaller utility, which ensures a more thorough removal process, including deleting related files.

  • Open the Application Folder: Start by following the steps from Method 1 to open the Applications folder.
  • Find the App’s Uninstaller: Look for an uninstaller utility that came with the application. It may be located within the application folder itself or in a separate folder with the app’s name. The uninstaller might have the app’s name followed by “Uninstaller.”
  • Run the Uninstaller: Double-click on the uninstaller and follow the on-screen instructions. Keep in mind that the uninstallation process may vary from app to app, so be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by the application’s uninstaller.

Using the app’s built-in uninstaller ensures that all associated files are removed, providing a more thorough uninstallation.

Method 4: Using Third-Party Uninstaller Apps

For advanced users or those looking for a more comprehensive cleaning solution, third-party uninstaller apps can be a valuable tool. They go beyond the built-in methods to provide deeper cleaning options.

  • Download and Install: Start by downloading and installing a reputable third-party uninstaller app, such as AppCleaner, CleanMyMac, or AppZapper. Follow the installation instructions provided by the app.
  • Open the App: Launch the third-party uninstaller app you installed.
  • Select the App: From the list of installed applications provided by the app, select the one you want to uninstall.
  • Uninstall: Follow the prompts and instructions provided by the third-party app to uninstall the selected application and its associated files. These apps often provide additional cleaning features and can be especially useful when dealing with complex or stubborn applications.

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Recommended Third-Party Uninstallers for macOS

While macOS offers built-in methods for uninstalling applications, third-party uninstaller apps can provide more extensive cleaning capabilities and help you maintain a clutter-free system. Here’s a detailed list of some highly regarded third-party uninstaller apps you can consider:

1. CleanMyMac X

CleanMyMac X is an all-encompassing utility that offers an array of features beyond uninstallation. These include:

  • Comprehensive Uninstallation: CleanMyMac X excels in removing applications and ensuring that all related files, such as caches, preferences, and support files, are completely wiped from your Mac.
  • System Cleanup: It scans your system for unnecessary files, system junk, and other clutter that accumulates over time and can occupy valuable storage space.
  • Malware Protection: CleanMyMac X includes a malware removal tool that helps safeguard your Mac from potential threats by identifying and eliminating malware.
  • Performance Optimization: The app offers tools to optimize your Mac’s performance, including managing startup items, handling extensions, and improving overall system speed.
  • User-Friendly Interface: CleanMyMac X features an intuitive interface that caters to both beginners and advanced users. Navigating through its various functions is a breeze.
  • Frequent Updates: It’s known for providing regular updates to ensure compatibility with the latest macOS versions.
  • Why Choose It: CleanMyMac X is a comprehensive all-in-one solution that goes beyond app removal. It ensures thorough cleanup and system optimization, making it a powerful tool for maintaining a healthy and efficient Mac.

2. AppCleaner

AppCleaner is a straightforward application removal tool with a focus on simplicity. Its features include:

  • Efficient Uninstallation: AppCleaner provides a drag-and-drop interface for uninstalling applications, making the process quick and straightforward.
  • Associated File Cleanup: It detects and removes associated files, ensuring that no leftover data remains on your system.
  • User-Friendly: AppCleaner is known for its user-friendly approach, making it an excellent choice for users who prefer simplicity and efficiency.
  • Why Choose It: If you’re looking for a no-nonsense uninstaller that gets the job done without unnecessary complexities, AppCleaner’s ease of use and efficiency make it an excellent choice.

3. AppZapper

AppZapper is designed for easy app removal with additional features for user convenience, such as:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Its interface is designed to be intuitive, making it easy for users to navigate.
  • Preview Feature: AppZapper provides a preview of the files and components that will be removed, allowing users to confirm and control the uninstallation process.
  • Thorough Removal: It ensures that both the application and associated files are removed, preventing any remnants from cluttering your system.
  • Why Choose It: AppZapper simplifies the uninstallation process while offering control and a preview feature. This makes it an ideal choice for users who want to ensure a clean removal.

4. Hazel

Hazel is unique among these recommendations as it is an automation tool for managing files, but it can handle app removal as part of its functionality. Key features include:

  • Automation: Hazel allows you to automate file management tasks as well as including uninstallation, based on custom rules and conditions.
  • File Organization: You can set up rules for organizing and cleaning up files in specific folders, helping you maintain a clutter-free system.
  • Why Choose It: Hazel is an excellent choice for users who prefer automation and also want to streamline their file management processes. It’s not just an uninstaller but a versatile tool for maintaining an organized Mac.

5. iTrash

iTrash is a dedicated uninstaller application with a primary focus on thorough application removal. Its features include:

  • Focused Uninstallation: iTrash is designed specifically for uninstalling applications and ensuring that all associated files are deleted.
  • User-Friendly: It offers a user-friendly interface that simplifies the uninstallation process, making it accessible for all users.
  • Efficient Cleanup: iTrash is efficient in removing both applications and associated files, preventing clutter on your Mac.
  • Why Choose It: If you’re seeking a straightforward and efficient uninstaller that specializes in app removal, iTrash offers a focused solution for keeping your Mac clean and organized.

When selecting a third-party uninstaller for your macOS system, consider factors such as your specific needs, ease of use, compatibility with your macOS version, and user reviews. While some of these apps may offer free trials, access to their full feature sets may require a paid subscription or a one-time purchase. Additionally, stay informed about software updates and any changes in features and functionality to ensure that the app continues to meet your requirements effectively.

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Uninstalling apps on your Mac is a straightforward process, but it’s essential to choose the method that best suits your needs and preferences. Whether you opt for the classic Trash method, the visual approach of Launchpad, the precision of using the app’s uninstaller, or the advanced features of a third-party uninstaller, keeping your Mac organized and efficient is just a few clicks away. Remember that periodically removing unused apps can help improve your Mac’s performance and free up valuable storage space.