How to Uninstall Apps on macOS

If you're anything like us, you install loads of apps on your Mac, always trying to find the best tool for the job and keen to try out new ones.

That, inevitably, means you have a hard drive or SSD full of applications you never use and which are sitting there taking up disk space.

How to Uninstall Applications on a Mac

Important: Don't just drag apps to the Trash, please.

The most popular misconception about removing apps on Mac is that it's enough to move the app icon into the Trash bin. For images, videos, and files that is enough but that is not the case with apps. Applications store lots of files in various places on your Mac, things like storing preferences and user data. To remove an app completely, you need to remove all of those files too.

Manual cleanup is not a a safe (or easy) procedure to perform, so you might want to opt for a ready app uninstaller.

For instance, there's an app called CleanMyMac on Setapp app collection that can quickly uninstall apps. You can use it for 30-day free with a Setapp account. It has a set of tools for cleanup and system polishing, including a professional Uninstaller. It's safer than manual cleanup and way faster.

How to completely delete an app manually (the hard way)

We started this article by telling you it's not enough to drag the app to the Trash but it's how you begin. 

So, step 1: Drag the app icon or folder to the Trash bin. Here's what you need to do next: hunt for preferences and other files associated with it. First of all, check your user Library. To find that, go to the Finder and click on the Go menu, choose Go To Folder. In the window that opens, type '~/Library' and click Go.

You're now in your user Library. Go to Preferences and scroll down, looking for any files with the same name as the application. Drag any you find to the Trash. Next, go to the Application Support folder and do the same.

Once you're sure you've got all the files in your user Library, click on the Go menu again and choose Computer. Click on your startup drive in the window that opens and then click on Library. Repeat the steps above – search Preferences and Application support for files with the name of the app and delete them.

Preferences

Here's a list of all places you should look for files:

  1. Application support files are located in ~/Library/Application
  2. Support Caches can be found in /Library/Caches/ and ~/Library/Caches
  3. Plugins are located in ~/Library/Address Book Plug-Ins/
  4. Library can be found in ~/Library/
  5. App preferences are located in ~/Library/Preferences/
  6. Crashes are found in ~/Library/Application Support/CrashReporter/
  7. App saved states are located in ~/Library/Saved Application State/
  8. Binary and dock icons are located in /Applications/

Repeat for every app you want to delete

Once you've deleted one app like that, you can go through the same process again for every app you no longer want on your Mac.

The easy way to completely delete apps from your Mac (the automated method)

Thankfully, that's not the only way to uninstall apps on your Mac. There is a much easier way, using an app that will do all the hard work for you. We recommend CleanMyMac. It will scan your Mac for all the files associated with any app you choose and delete them all at the press of a button.

Completely remove app

Open Setapp and run CleanMyMac. When it's launched, look on the side bar for the Utilities section and click Uninstaller. You'll see the window fill up with all the apps on your Mac. If you don't see the one you want to uninstall, search for it. When you find it, click on the box next to its name. You'll see all the files associated with the app listed in the window. To uninstall the entire app, click Uninstall at the bottom of the window.

You can remove multiple apps at once, including corresponding files and preferences.

You don't have to uninstall one app at a time. Now you know how it works, you can click on the checkbox next to every app you want to remove and when you're done, click Uninstall. They'll all be removed at once.

Completely remove app with CleanMyMac Uninstaller

How to uninstall plugins and extensions

CleanMyMac is also good at finding and grouping all your plugins and add-ons in every browser. Instead of going through settings and extensions in every browser, you can just open Extensions tab in CleanMyMac and remove everything you don't need.

Delete plugins and extensions with CleanMyMac

How to remove Java and Flash

If for some reason you experience the need to remove Java from your Mac, we'll help you take care of it. There is a manual way to do it but it's unsafe and strictly not recommended so we won't introduce it here. Instead, you can use CleanMyMac, it's completely free for 30 days with a Setapp subscription.

To remove Java, Flash Player or any preference pane or browser extension, click on the Extensions module in CleanMyMac. Click View all Extensions then navigate to the category you need – e.g. Flash is in Preferences panes. Click on it and click Select All then Remove.

Delete Java and Flash faster and easier

Dealing with heavy apps without deleting

There are quite a few apps that brutally abuse your drive space with cache files. Xcode, Sketch, Final Cut, modeling and architecture software, you name it. For instance, Xcode generates junk even when you don't use it. To see if one of your apps is being greedy space-wise, you can use CleanMyMac. Open the app and run a general system scan. Then go to Review Results and you'll see apps with overgrown cache files ready for cleanup. Select them, click Clean and have one less problem on your Mac.

Get rid of apps cache

Reset a faulty app instead of uninstalling

There are a couple of reasons to reset apps rather than delete: the app is buggy and crashes but you still need it or the app is a system utility.

System utilities are impossible to delete but it doesn't mean they can't cause trouble and misbehave. In this case, you can reset them.

There is a reset option in CleanMyMac. Go to the Uninstaller tab, choose the app in question and click Application reset near the top panel.

This will remove all the additional files associated with the app and just leave the main file in your Applications folder. That will reset the app back to the state it was in when you first downloaded it. Application reset also helps with apps that have started to accumulate too many resources. You can check on that using iStat Menus app. But keep in mind that all app data gets purged in a reset so you'll lose preferences and usage history if it was stored on your Mac.

Detect and delete difficult apps, malware, and bloatware

In case you encounter an app that acts like malware/bloatware or simply refuses to be deleted in an ordinary fashion, there's also a way to get rid of it with CleanMyMac.

Malware and bloatware are different. While malware is deliberately harmful, bloatware is simply unnecessarily large, occupies RAM and space, and thus overloads your Mac.

You can detect bloatware with iStat Menus. When you install it and let it monitor your Mac for a while to see RAM cycles and processor load, you'll be able to view exact apps and processes that seem to put pressure on your Mac. These apps might be bloatware-like. Use the Uninstaller in CleanMyMac to remove them if you believe it's necessary.

How to restore an app on mac you deleted on accident

It's actually pretty easy with the right tools. The are two options, depending on whether your apps come from Setapp or not.

  1. If your apps come from Setapp collection. This is definitely the easiest possible option, you simply open Setapp, find an app you've removed and install it again.
  2. If you need to restore an app from elsewhere. You can re-download it from the vendor website or the Mac App Store if you found it there. In case that's hard or impossible for some reason, you can recreate the app on your drive. Disk Drill is an app that can look into your drive, find the memory bit where the app used to be and, if you haven't done too many actions since you've deleted the app, restore it in full. It's also on Setapp collection by the way, and it's pretty easy to use. Simply open Disk Drill, search for the app you've deleted, and click Recover.

That's about it concerning app removal and the tools you might need for that. We hope this guide has been of use to you. Have a nice day, cheers.


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