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How to completely uninstall annoying macOS apps

9 min read

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 Player.app. 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. 

How to delete apps on Mac easily using the Bin

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 Bin or use a shortcut ⌘ + Delete

delete apps mac bin

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! 

The best way 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 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 of 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

uninstall apps CleanMyMac X Mac

Now all the selected apps and their files are gone from your system, creating lots of free space. On any macOS, remove default apps and third-party apps with CleanMyMac X to uninstall them completely. 

Uninstall apps using Finder

There are two basic methods of uninstalling apps, according to Apple. You can either uninstall from Finder or Launchpad. Both are equivalent to moving the app to the Bin, so you can choose the one that’s more convenient for you. But, once again, note that deleting apps through Finder or Launchpad might leave some associated files behind.  

Here’s how to uninstall apps using Finder: 

  1. In Finder, choose Applications and locate the app you want to delete
  2. Select the app > File > Move to Bin or simply drag it to the Bin
  3. Enter your admin password if prompted 
  4. In the Finder’s menu, click Empty Bin. 

uninstall apps finder

Remove Apple apps using Launchpad 

If you tend to access your apps through Launchpad, it might be easier for you to delete them through Launchpad, too. Here’s how you can do it: 

  1. Open Launchpad from the Dock 
  2. Locate the app you want to delete 
  3. Hold the Option key until you see the X buttons appear 
  4. Click the X button on the app you want to delete
  5. Confirm that you’re deleting the app. 

remove apps launchpad

Note that Launchpad won’t let you delete the apps that weren’t downloaded from the App Store. To delete those apps, use the Finder method. 

Delete apps on Mac with app uninstallers

As we’ve mentioned before, some third-party apps come with a self-destroying uninstaller that helps remove the traces of the app from your Mac after you’ve deleted it. These uninstallers can be found in the Applications folder: if you open Finder > Applications and find your third-party app that looks like a folder, click on it, and you’ll find the uninstaller within the folder. 

App uninstallers are usually named something like “Uninstall [app name]” or “[app name] Uninstaller.” Unfortunately, very few apps come with such native uninstallers. To delete 90% of software from Mac, you’ll still need the assistance of CleanMyMac X Uninstaller

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 don’t recommend doing that because it can rid you of some important data, or worse, get your Mac infected with malware. 

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

CleanMyMa X mail attachments delete Mac

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

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. 

Disk Drill recover hard drive Mac

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.

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

Get Backup Pro settings Mac

How to delete Mac apps that won’t delete 

As you see, there are many methods to uninstall apps. However, the question of how to delete system apps on Mac still remains. This is because even the most powerful uninstallers such as CleanMyMac X can’t delete system apps — that’s impossible. What CleanMyMac X can do, though, is delete every file associated with that system app. And in most cases that’s the best way to go.

Here’s how to delete files associated with system apps: 

  1. In the CleanMyMac X menu, choose Preferences 
  2. Open Ignore List 
  3. Uncheck the box next to “Ignore system applications” 
  4. In CleanMyMac X, go to Uninstaller and choose your system app
  5. Click the Show button to view the associated files
  6. Select the files and click Reset. 

cmm uninstall app

Tip: If you want to uninstall system apps because they eat up too much CPU, don’t rush into it. Sometimes, all you need is to quit all background apps you don’t use so they stop putting pressure on the CPU. Quit All is the perfect solution. 

quit all app

Now you know lots of ways 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! 

CleanMyMac X, Disk Drill, Quit All, and Get Backup Pro are available to you absolutely free for seven days with the trial of Setapp, a groundbreaking platform with over 230 Mac and iPhone 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.

FAQ about uninstalling macOS apps

Let’s finish up answering the top frequently asked questions. 

What apps can I delete on Mac?

You can delete all third-party apps you’ve installed through the App Store, Setapp, or directly from the developer’s website. CleanMyMac X will help you completely remove the traces of these apps from your Mac. 

As for how to uninstall default apps on Mac, you can uninstall some of them simply by moving them to the Bin. However, there are system apps such Safari that can’t be removed — use CleanMyMac X to reset them and delete their associated files, it will help free up some space. 

How to delete an app on Mac that says it’s open

Quit the app first, then proceed uninstalling it. If you’re uninstalling multiple apps with CleanMyMac X, you’ll be prompted to quit them first. You can also use Quit All to quit every app you have open on Mac, including the background apps, in one click. 

How to delete an app and all its data on Mac

The surefire way to completely uninstall apps is to use CleanMyMac X for the job. It removes all the app logs, caches, and even associated system files that you can’t delete manually. In some cases, third-party apps have uninstallers which you can find in Finder > Applications > app folder. 

How to delete an app on Mac without Trash?

Moving the app to the Trash (Bin) helps uninstall some apps. If you want to bypass this method, you can delete apps through Finder or Launchpad. This action is equivalent to dragging the app to the Bin. 

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