Here’s how to delete programs on Mac

6 min read

Knowing how to delete apps on a Mac correctly is essential for keeping your device optimized and running smoothly. 

Not everyone realizes that the process of removing apps varies depending on whether you downloaded them from the App Store or the internet. Don't worry; it's simple enough — we'll cover all the methods right here, so let's get started.

How to uninstall App Store apps on a Mac

To delete an application that you downloaded from the App Store, follow these simple steps:

Uninstall apps from Mac

  1. Open Launchpad.

  2. Select and hold the app icon until they start to move.

  3. Click the X top left.

  4. Confirm you want to delete it by clicking Delete.

Confirming uninstalling the app

If the application you wanted to remove doesn't have the X button, you likely downloaded this app from the internet, and you'll need a different method. Jump to the next section.

How to uninstall programs on Mac via Trash 

Another simple way to remove apps is by using the Trash or Bin method; here's how:

  1. Open a new Finder window.

  2. Select Applications from the sidebar.

  3. Locate the app you want to remove and drag it to your Trash.

  4. Empty your Trash afterward.

Although this method is popular and seems relatively quick and easy, many users don't realize that it doesn't guarantee to remove every single trace of the app entirely. 

Digital debris like support files is often left behind in hard-to-reach places, which can consume valuable space and clog up your Mac.

Instead, use a dedicated uninstaller that can safely remove all app traces, jump to the next section, and I'll show you how.

How to uninstall applications using an uninstaller

If you want to thoroughly and safely remove all traces of applications, then a third-party tool like CleanMyMac X is exactly what you need. This powerful tool comes with an Uninstaller Module that removes apps and their files altogether. It also sorts your data into categories, including unused, leftovers, vendors, and stores, to help you quickly find the app you want to remove.

I find this level of detail handy, and it's surprising what you have installed on your device when you see your apps categorized like this.

Here's how to remove your apps the smart way:

All apps selected in the Uninstaller module of CMMX

  1. Open the app — download the free version here.

  2. Select Uninstaller from the sidebar and click View Applications.

  3. Browse through the categories and select the apps you want to delete.

  4. Click Uninstall.

In my opinion, this is by far the easiest and safest way to delete applications. It saves time and removes all of that leftover digital debris.

If you're not a big fan of third-party tools, no problem. I've got a few more tips for you below on uninstalling programs on your Mac.

How to delete apps with native uninstallers

Not all, but some applications come with built-in native uninstallers. You'll most likely find these on apps that you've downloaded via the internet. 

To find these, open the Finder and select Applications from the sidebar.

For example, in the picture below, my application Team Drive has a folder within Applications, and its native uninstaller tool is available there.

Team Drive native uninstaller

You would now just need to double-click the uninstaller to launch it and follow the on-screen instructions to remove the app.

If the app you're trying to remove doesn't have a native uninstaller, no problem; jump to the next section for more tips.

How to manually delete app-related files from Library 

Application resources are files that our apps need to function correctly. These are located and stored in a hidden Library folder. 

When you delete an application from your Mac using the Launchpad or Trash methods, these files often remain behind. It's the digital clutter that I mentioned earlier in the article taking up valuable space on your drive.

It is possible to remove this clutter manually but take caution when deleting items from the Library folder. You can cause serious issues to your macOS if you delete the wrong thing.

Here's how to manually delete app-related files:

Library folder

  1. Open the Finder, hold down your Option key, and select Go from the top menu.

  2. Select Library.

  3. In the top search bar, enter the name of the app you want to delete, then select the Library filter to ensure it searches for files in the right location.

  4. When you locate all the related files, move them to the Trash.

That will remove all the app traces. If you don't feel comfortable poking around in your Library folder, use the third-party uninstaller method from earlier in the article.

Uninstall apps on a Mac using Terminal

Another way to delete apps on a Mac is by using Terminal, and contrary to popular belief, it's pretty simple. Here's how:

Terminal window

1. Open Finder > Applications > Utlitlies > Terminal.

2. Type in the below command

sudo uninstall file://

3. Now, simply drag the app icon into Terminal, automatically updating the path.

4. Press Return and input your admin password when requested.

How to reset a misbehaving app 

Occasionally, apps refuse to be uninstalled. This is a particularly annoying yet common issue. There can be several reasons why this happens, from corrupt files to outdated software. The best way to solve this annoying issue is to reset the app.

You can use the application I mentioned earlier, CleanMyMac X, to reset misbehaving applications via its Uninstaller module. Here's how:

Safari reset selected in the Uninstaller module in CMMX

  1. Open the application and select Uninstaller.

  2. Click View All Applications.

  3. Locate the troublesome app in the list and select it.

  4. Now select Reset from the dropdown next to its name.

  5. Click Reset.

If you've still got questions about app removal, jump to the step below.


Let's close up this article by taking a look at some common app removal questions.

Which apps should I remove?

Depending on what you need your apps for, consider removing the following if they apply to you:

  • Applications downloaded from suspicious or untrustworthy sites.

  • Apps that consume too much RAM.

  • Apps you no longer use.

How often should I remove apps?

To keep your Mac fully optimized, it's worth checking the applications you have installed on your Mac regularly. This way, you can remove programs you no longer use that simply take up space and keep your Mac running smoothly. 

Is it safe to remove default Apple apps?

Some of Apple's pre-installed applications, like iMovie, can be removed safely, just like any other app, using the methods mentioned in this article. You can always reinstall them from the App Store at a later date.

However, many default Apple applications like Mail and Safari are protected from deletion as they are integral to your macOS. 

This can be overwritten via Terminal — read this great article here

What to do If I delete an app accidentally?

You've got two options here. If you've accidentally removed an app you originally downloaded from the App Store, you can simply reinstall it.

The other option is to recover your app from Trash: open Trash and right-click the app you want to restore. Then, click Put Back.

So, here we are. We've reached the end. Now you know exactly how to delete Apps on a Mac and the answers to commonly asked questions about app removal. Remember to keep a regular eye on what apps you've installed on your Mac to keep your device fully optimized. 

See you again soon for more great Mac tricks and tips!

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