How to Completely Uninstall Applications On Your Mac

How to Completely Uninstall Applications On Your Mac

Many users who have come across from competing operating systems, may be unaware of how simple it is to actually remove an application in OS X.

Some applications will still install components all over your system. With that in mind these applications will usually include an un-installer utility. Generally, the developer should have a link to an un-installer utility on their website. Depending on how you purchased the application, a un-installer utility may be on the optical disc or within the original compressed packet file.

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Deleting Applications

The majority of applications will uninstall as easily as they were installed. This means you can simply go to your Applications folder, and move the application to the Trash. Emptying the Trash will then delete the application from your system. This method can be used for applications purchased via the Mac App Store, or downloaded from the developer’s website.

The reason you can do this is because the application you are clicking and dragging to the Trash is actually a folder. Just one you don’t have immediate access to. Within this folder contains all the information and associated files for the application to run and operate correctly on your Mac.

If you use the Mac App Store exclusively, you will also be able to delete any apps downloaded via the service within Launchpad. Simply click and hold an app until they jiggle and present with an “x” in the top left hand corner of the icon. When you click the “x”, you will be presented with the following warning message:

Pressing delete will permanently remove the app from your Mac. It will not put the app the in Trash. The good news is the Mac App Store will allow users to re-download purchased apps.

Just make sure you have made a backup of any paid applications, (that have been purchased outside of the Mac App Store), and their registration code prior to deleting. You may not wish to use them at this point in time, but if things change it would be disappointing to have to re-purchase them.

Advanced: Finishing The Job

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To ensure you have removed all traces of an app from your Mac, after dragging the icon to the trash, select the Finder icon in your Dock. Then, click the Go menu in the menu bar, and navigate to the Application Support in your user Library folder (/users/your user name/Library/). Find the folder for the developer of your app (in some cases, the folder will be named after the app itself), and drag it to the trash as well. Repeat the process in the System Library Folder (/Library/Application Support) to ensure that all remnants are removed.*

Note: Be sure to delete ONLY the folder associated with your application. Deleting anything you shouldn’t delete in the system or user Library folder could compromise or crash your Mac. Proceed at your own risk.

  1. TRSHD says:

    There are apps that will actually go through this process automatically. There’s even a free one: AppTrap. I’ve been using for years.

    1. Yup. I’m quite aware of several of them. But I wanted to show people how to do it without a 3rd-party app.

      1. David Morell says:

        A good article nonetheless.

        It’s always refreshing to see these things. Sometimes you forget.

        1. Thank you very much, kind sir.

  2. Jack says:

    Please remove “completely” from the article title, until you can provide a solution that includes all relevant files. You are overlooking cache, plist, log and other files.

  3. Humphrey Benfufay says:

    Why not use App Cleaner? No need to look for the dependents, it will find it for you.

    1. I wanted to show how it’s done without third-party software. I am aware that there are many paid and free apps out there.

      1. Humphrey Benfufay says:

        OK, understood & approved,

        But with all due respect, the solution of looking manually for dependents is a bit awkward, especially considering the risk of trashing something unrelated. Nevertheless, thanks for the article.

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