How to Uninstall Apps on Mac

We live in the golden age of apps. We are being spammed by the apps forcing us to update, install the latest extension, read some marketing fluff that’s pouring on us from every pop up window. Your best defence is to teach yourself about deleting software properly. And simply dragging apps to the Trash is no way a secure deletion.

Why? Because it leaves behind app parts and pieces. And leaving software only half uninstalled will fill up gigabytes of space on your Mac’s hard drive with useless clutter. And sure you could find a better use for that space. That’s why, until Apple decides to make the right choice and develop a better way to completely uninstall apps on Mac, we’ve prepared some efficient tips and tricks to help you uninstall apps manually and keep the performance of your Mac at its peak, day in and day out.

A complete guide to uninstall software on Mac

In this guide, we’re going to show you how to completely remove apps from your Mac in order to free up space and have your Mac running at full power.

We’ve prepared two ways for deleting apps on Mac. We'll start off by explaining manual ways of deleting apps on Mac.

Did you know: Some apps are hard to delete manually as they consist of many unseen parts. In this case, you'll need a special "app destroyer." The most popular one is CleanMyMac X by MacPaw.

Whichever method you choose, it will help you to correctly remove apps on Mac. You will then have a clean Mac and a lot more free space to store your digital possessions.

What’s more, we’ve also added 2 bonus tips for uninstalling Java and deleting apps via the Terminal:

  1. Bonus 1: Uninstall Java on Mac
  2. Bonus 2: Uninstall apps using Terminal

Sounds good? Now, let’s take out the trash!

1

How to Remove Programs on Mac manually

It’s time for the big reveal. We’re going to show you where to find all the associated app files that remain trapped on your Mac even after you’ve sent an app to the Trash.

But before we proceed, take caution. If you’ve chosen the manual method to remove programs on Mac we admire your determination, but we must also warn you to keep a careful eye on what you’re deleting. You don’t want to end up removing essential files. So, carefully check all the filenames before you begin to uninstall software on Mac and make sure they belong to the app you want to remove.

Sending apps to the Trash

Open your Applications (from the sidebar in Finder).

Select an app and drag it onto the Trash bin. That's it.


What if it doesn't work?

Sometimes, for the mysterious reasons, your Mac would refuse to delete some files. If this happens, reboot your system and try again, after you’ve pressed Command-Option-Esc and made sure the app is not listed as running. If it is, force quit and try again.

The hard truth about leftovers

There’s also the risk of having some app files slip through the cracks of the manual method, if you’re not thorough enough. To illustrate, we've deleted the XCode software by dragging it to the Trash. It ended up leaving 1.9 GB worth of remaining files. It may depend on an app, though.


We'll explain how to eliminate them in a second. But, again, if you'd like to automatically delete these minor app parts, skip to the automatic solution with CleanMyMac X.

Dealing with the remaining parts

Now, let’s gather all strength and begin our manual hunt for app leftovers! To make sure you don’t miss anything and you remove software from your Mac correctly, follow these steps:

Open the Finder

Click on Finder > Go> Go to Folder...

So, to fully remove an app and its leftovers from your Mac you need to check these locations in the Finder.

That was obviously a cumbersome way to delete things. In the next chapter we'll show the much easier method.

Don’t forget to empty the Trash

Once your apps are moved to the Trash bin you need to empty it. Open the Trash bin and click the Empty button to erase its contents.

How to delete Flash player manually

How to delete Mac apps automatically

There is a whole category of app uninstallers for Mac that takes advantage of macOS' inability to remove apps completely. Among the trusted tools, you may check CleanMyMac X by MacPaw. It's notarized by Apple and is the most user-friendly compared to analogous apps.

You may download the free edition of CleanMyMac X here. This app will detect the unseen apps and you can delete many apps at once by simply checking them in the list. The free version that allows you to clean a big portion of junk. This means you can delete a couple of un-deletable apps at no cost. 

If you like it, you’ll be able to upgrade to the paid version and give your Mac a full clean out. You’ll also be able to uninstall apps on Mac correctly at any given time, without limits.

To remove apps from Mac the easy way with CleanMyMac X follow these steps:

As you can see from the screenshot, there is an option to filter out the AppStore apps, the Unused apps, 32-bit ones and more.

Chrome selected in the Uninstaller module in CleanMyMacX

Download Free Version

Uninstall applications using Launchpad

You can use Launchpad to get rid of your apps and widgets.

Now you can click the hovering [X] icon to delete the app.

Delete apps with CleanMyMac X Uninstaller Module

How to completely uninstall Java from your Mac

Java plugin is known to have conflict issues with many apps. Re-installing it helps to get some Mac’s services back to working. But completely removing Java might seem a bit harder than uninstalling normal apps. However, it’s not rocket science. With a few clicks and double-clicks, you’ll be ready to enjoy more space and more speed from your Mac, free from the clutter. Space you can, of course, use to install another Java version if you please.

So here’s how to completely delete Java. Remove one directory and one file (a symlink), as follows:

  1. Click on the Finder icon located in your dock
  2. Click on the Utilities folder
  3. Double-click on the Terminal icon
  4. In the Terminal window Copy and Paste the commands below:

How to delete Java app manually


How to uninstall apps on Mac using Terminal

We've shown you how to remove Java plugin using Terminal. But as one might guess, it works for any other app. This procedure requires 2 commands: 1) Finding the app's location (using the mdfind command) 2) Removing that folder using sudo rm -rf. The latter command may cause damage, so don't use it if you're not sure what you doing).

Okay. Open your Terminal app (you can type its name into the Launchpad)

1. First, we'll find the app's location

Now, paste this command into the Terminal window:

mdfind -name <The name of your app>

For example, the app I'm trying to delete is named "NVU"

Press enter and the Terminal will show you where the app is located on your Mac.

2. Delete that particular path 

To remove the app, paste this command into the Terminal window:

sudo rm -rf <The location you've just found>

In my case it looks like this:

Notesudo rm -rf may break your system if used incorrectly. You may delete your entire user account. If not sure, try other methods described in this article.

Now, enter your password to confirm.

Did it work? Congratulations — you may officially call yourself a geek now. 

How to reset apps without deleting them

Yes, you can do that too. Resetting an app is easily the greatest do-it-yourself trick any Mac user can try. What it does is brings the application to its default state, and most importantly, leaves your user data intact. For example, your apps are out of sync with one another so what the reset does is helps restore the initial app settings. It deletes the app cache that causes lots of software glitches. The App Reset feature is found in the Uninstaller tab in CleanMyMac X.

By the way, you can even reset your Mac's default apps, like Safari if they are broken. Here's me resetting my Safari browser:

Safari reset selected in the Uninstaller module in CMMX

To use these feature, which is really a hidden gem, open the Uninstaller tab in CleanMyMac X (download its free edition here)

  1. Find and click on the Uninstaller tab.
  2. Choose any app in the list
  3. Click on the dropdown menu under the Uninstall button. This reveals the Reset option.

Now you know everything needed to delete apps on Mac the correct way, achieve complete uninstallation and remove annoying quirks and strange apps behaviors. Whether you choose the manual method or opt for the clean up app CleanMyMac X, you can be sure your Mac will be free of unnecessary app files that eat up disk space in vain. Staying safe and clean feels great, right?

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