How to uninstall apps on Mac

5 min read
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There often comes a time when you just don’t need to keep an app around. It may be old and unsupported – or maybe you just don’t use it anymore and don’t have a need to keep it around. If that sounds like you, we’ll show you exactly how to uninstall apps on Mac.


With macOS Catalina and later, there are plenty of great reasons to delete apps. If an app is 32-bit, it has to go. Apple made the decision to discontinue support for 32-bit binaries with macOS Catalina, and many app developers didn’t retrofit their apps to be 64-bit as Apple requested. Old 32-bit apps no longer work on macOS.

Some apps may just be unnecessary. If you have apps for managing photos or your music library, you may find the new Photos app that comes with macOS or the new Music app do a great job, so the old software you’d been using is redundant. It’s gotta go!

Whatever the case, there are quick and easy ways to delete apps from your Mac. We’ll walk you through it!

How to delete apps on Mac

One thing to know is deleting an app isn’t the same as uninstalling it. There are two ways to delete apps, though: Finder, and Launchpad.

In Launchpad, you can pressing and holding the app's icon to bring up the wiggly app management feature. Like iOS, app icons start to shake in-place, which allows you to move them around. Third-party apps also have a small ‘x’ icon on the top right of the icon in this mode, which allows you to delete them.

Delete apps from launchpad


Another way to delete apps is from Finder. There, you simply select the app, then right-click and select ‘delete.’ In either Finder or Launchpad, you can drag app icons to the trash bin to delete the apps.

(If you’re on an older version of macOS – or OS X, for the much older versions – and managing apps via iTunes, the process is similar. Select the app, right-click, and select ‘Move to Trash.’)

The classic way to remove apps

Remember when we told you deleting and uninstalling weren’t the same? Deleting is the first step in the process; Apple wants you to do more work!

The completely uninstall an app, follow the instructions for deleting an app above. Then head to your library folder from Finder:

  • Open Finder
  • Select ‘Go’ from menu
  • Hold down ‘option’ key on keyboard; you should see a new option for ‘Library’
  • While holding down the option key, select ‘Library’

A word of caution before you proceed: DO NOT delete files if you’re not sure what they do. Apple hides the Library for a reason: most people shouldn’t go poking through it and deleting files haphazardly. If you don’t know what a file or folder is for, leave it alone.

Library houses files and folders apps need to operate. Sometimes these files or folders are for updating an app, or managing a Safari extension. Again, Library isn’t a toy. Tread lightly!

When you find a file or folder you know doesn’t belong – and is associated with the app you deleted – you can also delete the file by right-clicking and selecting ‘Move to Trash,’ or dragging it to the trash bin.

Delete applications from Finder

Deleting these files completes the deletion of an app. It’s possible those files were doing things necessary for the app that you no longer want, like calling a server or tracking keystrokes. Without the app, those types of features are just spyware.

When you’re done deleting apps and associated files, go ahead and empty your trash bin.

If you’re thinking ‘wow, that all seems sort of scary,’ you’re not wrong. Even seasoned pros get nervous when digging into a computer’s Library file system. There is a better way to uninstall programs from Mac, though!

The best way to uninstall apps on Mac

If the idea of deleting apps and digging into secret libraries on your Mac to remove associated files is daunting, we have a better solution.

CleanMyMacX is a sensational app that helps manage your apps and files, in addition to a ton of other features. For now, we’ll focus on app management.

In the CleanMyMacX menu is an ‘Applications’ section on the left pane. It has three options: Uninstaller, Updater, and Extensions. Updater lets you manage updates for apps you want to keep, and saves you the trouble of digging through the App Store just to update an app.

Extensions helps you manage Safari browser extensions, Spotlight plugins, Internet Plugins, and Preference Panes. It’s the simplest and most straightforward way to manage the add-ons some apps demand, which aren’t always caught when deleting or uninstalling an app. When you find an extension you don’t want, just select it and click the ‘Remove’ button at the bottom of the window.

To uninstall apps on Mac, go to the ‘Uninstaller’ option with CleanMyMacX. Here you’ll see apps in a variety of categories. There’s the ‘all’ category for – you guessed it – all of the apps on your Mac. There’s also a section named ‘unused,’ which shows you which apps you’re not really using often.

Remove apps with CleanMyMac X

The ‘Leftovers’ section makes Apple’s ‘Library’ look silly. In CleanMyMacX, Leftovers automatically finds the files associates with apps you no longer have. Hovering over the file in a list brings up the ‘Show’ option, which gives you precise info on exactly what app the file is associated with. No more fumbling through Library and guessing!

There’s also a section for 32-bit apps (remember, we talked about that!) which shows every app that’s no longer supported for macOS. If you really enjoy the app, we suggest reaching out to the developer to see if they will be making it a 64-bit app. If not, go ahead and delete it; it just won’t work on your Mac.

When you’re ready to uninstall programs from your Mac, select the app in any menu you see it in and click ‘Uninstall’ at the bottom of the screen. It’s that easy!

Conclusion

The main goal when uninstalling an app from macOS is to get rid of it completely: files, folders, the app – everything. We’ll also note that if you plan on never using the app or service again, it’s best to request the app developer remove your profile entirely. The method for this varies, but the app or service’s website should have the answer you need.

It takes a long time to delete an app the Apple way, and it’s just not worth it. Digging through the Library is scary stuff, and one wrong move can have a ripple effect on your entire system. No thanks!

We prefer CleanMyMacX, which takes care of the heavy lifting of deleting an app, then removing associated files to completely uninstall it. With a few clicks, you completely rid yourself of an app you don’t want.

For mobile users, there’s also AnyTrans, available for iOS and Android. AnyTrans is a macOS app that lets you manage backups, apps on your device, and account or cloud content in a much cleaner interface than Apple or Google provide. It’s easy to use, and available for both Android and iOS.

Best of all, AnyTrans as well as CleanMyMacX are available free as part of a seven day trial of Setapp. In addition to these apps, you get access to dozens of other handy macOS apps!

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