Last updated: Apr. 5, 2017
Removing an application on macOS (also called Mac OS X previously) can be quite easy, and complicated as well. It all depends on which programs you want to get rid of. Sometimes a simple drag-and-drop to Trash is enough, while other times you'll need more efforts to completely uninstall them.
Today we're going to share with you four different methods you can use right away, when it comes to permanently delete apps you no longer need. Some methods may be more efficient than others, depending on how much time you'd like to input and whether you are comfortable handling technical stuff.
Anyway, we show all of them to you.
Why do I need to completely uninstall programs on Mac?
Simply put, getting rid of unused or unneeded programs helps you regain more free hard disk space and enhance overall system performance. A clean Mac is surely better than a cluttered one.
Perhaps you've installed trials of commercial software, and you are not ready to buy it when the trial ends, or you installed a game and never got time to play it again. Chances are those inactive Mac apps are not being patched and kept up to date, which also means your Mac may be left more vulnerable to be exploited. Even worse, if those applications have been added to the Login Items — they're probably slowing down your Mac startup.
Also, malware and adware are not uncommon on Mac machines. Many download sites (other than App Store) bundle third-party plugins or processes to freeware you download. It turns out those plugins start to inject sneaky ads into your web browsers, hurting your internet surfing experience.
Removing those programs and services will help make your Mac secure and faster. Plus, you get more storage space to save stuff you love, e.g. pictures, videos, documents, etc.
Okay, now you've learned the necessity. Let's jump into the topic about how to get the job done. We're going to show you four different ways to permanently remove apps on macOS.
1. Manually Uninstall Most Mac Programs
Best to use when: you only have a few apps to remove, and they are downloaded from App Store or other websites.
Most of the time, you'll just need a few steps to complete.
- For apps downloaded from the Mac App Store, just go to Launchpad by clicking the icon in the Dock or pinching the thumb and three fingers together on the Trackpad. Find the app you want to remove, hold down its icon until you see it jiggles, then hit the "X" button to delete it.
- For apps downloaded from other websites or transferred from discs, on your desktop, click Go > Applications > look for the programs you want to uninstall, drag them to the Trash (or use Command + Del). Then open Trash and hit Empty Trash option. That's it.
- Next, clean remnant files and folders. Some programs may have created additional files or folders when you installed them. It's best to clean them as well. To do so, click Go > Library. Here find the items related to these programs and remove them all. Be sure to look up the ~/Library/, ~/Library/Application Support/ and ~/Library/Preferences/ folders.
Note: if you want to remove applications that were installed using the Mac package installers (on a .pkg format), you'll be prompted to enter the user password before they are moved to the Trash.
2. Use CleanMyMac Uninstaller Utility
Best to use when: you have a list of apps to uninstall and you've no idea what they are. Also, you don't want to remove them one by one manually.
Originally designed to clean up Mac hard drive, CleanMyMac also has a nice utility called Uninstaller (see screenshot below) — which can be used to quickly scan your Mac for a list of apps, then you just select those you want to delete, and hit the Uninstall button in one go. It's a lot easier. Best of all, it detects and removes bundled plugins as well.
By the way, we use this software regularly not only for app uninstalling, but for other system cleaning purposes. We're quite happy about the app and the coolness it brings to our Macs.
3. Search Uninstaller for a Specific App
Best to use when: you have problems removing a specific app using normal methods.
Some apps may not be easily uninstalled due to many reasons like software crash or errors. In this case, you can perform a quick search on Google: "uninstaller for [name of the app]", most likely you'll find relevant uninstaller or uninstallation instructions provided by the official developer.
For example, to get rid of Adobe Flash on Mac, Adobe actually offers a special uninstaller for we macOS users. Check here for more. Another example, since Oracle Java has always been security holes, a quick search would bring you to this page, where a helpful guide can be found on how to uninstall Java using the Terminal (command line).
Unfortunately, not all software developers are like Adobe and Oracle, you may not be able to find such information for certain apps.
4. Remove Adware and Malware with MacBooster
Best to use when: your Mac has adware or other third-party malicious apps.
What we like IObit MacBooster most is that not only it provides an Uninstaller like CleanMyMac does to remove apps thoroughly and quickly, but it also has an anti-malware feature that keeps your Mac away from spyware, virus, adware, malware and other kind of threats. Besides, it does a fantastic job in system cleaning — to boost Mac performance (like its name indicates). Here's a holistic review on MacBooster.
Bottom line — it's an one-stop Mac maintenance app that you can use to do many things.
Wrap it up
The benefits of regularly installing apps you no longer use are enormous. And unlike Windows, Apple macOS does provide a more intuitive way for us to quickly remove programs. However, due to the different ways apps can be designed and developed, it's sometimes hard to completely get rid of an app manually — especially those annoying crapware or adware. Fortunately, there are always solutions to solve problems.
Hope you find the techniques we've introduced above helpful. Don't forget to let us know if you have any issues applying them, or if you get to know a new solution. Feel free to share with us.
Andreas is an Apple and Microsoft fanboy who works with his Mac and lives with a PC at home. While he is not reading technology journals, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends or hiking in the wild.