How to Uninstall Apps on a Mac (6 Easy Methods)

Your responsibility doesn’t stop the moment you bring home a brand new computer. In fact, your “duties” begin when you start using your PC. It’s nothing too serious, but you don’t have to do anything significant. However, you can do things to keep your computer in good health so it will last for many years to come.

Removing apps is part of computer maintenance and keeping your device in good condition. After all, doing so frees up space that you would have wasted otherwise. It helps to keep your Mac running smoothly, especially if you accidentally installed a malicious or malfunctioning app on your computer.

The process to uninstall apps on Mac is pretty simple, but unfortunately, it’s not always obvious. There is an “Add or Remove Programs” utility when you use a Windows machine, whereas there is no such equivalent in macOS.

So, if you’re looking for how to delete apps on Mac, this guide can help you learn all the possible methods.

Deleting vs. Uninstalling Apps from Your Mac

Before we talk about how to uninstall software on Mac, let’s first look at deleting vs. uninstalling applications on Mac computers. The main question you’re probably asking is — what’s the difference?

On Windows machines, you have to navigate to an app’s uninstaller program or the add or remove programs utility to remove apps from your computer. This next fact may seem weird, but on macOS, uninstalling apps can be as simple as deleting them.

Yes — on macOS, deleting an app is equivalent to uninstalling it.

So yes, if you have a Mac, you can pretty much use “delete” and “uninstall” interchangeably. It may feel weird, but you’ll eventually get used to it.

Related reading: How to Close Apps on MacBook: All 4 Methods Step-by-Step

Method 1: Deleting From the Applications Folder

The simplest method to uninstall programs on Mac is to delete them from your Applications folder through your Finder.

  • Open your Finder
  • Click on Applications on the sidebar menu or wherever yours is located
Mac Applications
  • Choose which app you’d like to uninstall
  • Click on the launch icon and drag it to the Trash (it will work if you drag it to the trash can on your Dock)
Drag an app to Trash bin to uninstall it
  • Empty your trash for good measure (and if it won’t let you, force-empty it), and you’re done!

Note: If you want to uninstall an app from your Mac using this method, remember that it only works if you do it from your Mac’s Application Folder.

This method eliminates any and all files that a given app has in the Applications folder. However, not all apps are 100% uninstalled using this method. Some apps leave files in your computer’s library or other locations where an app puts its supporting files.

If you want to ensure that all pertinent files get deleted, try some of the other methods below.

Method 2: Uninstall Using Launchpad

Your mac’s Launchpad will look something like this, and it might remind you of how iPhone or Ipad screens look.

Mac Launchpad

It may not seem like it, but you can actually also uninstall apps through Launchpad — provided the app meets specific requirements. Well, one condition: the app in question must have been downloaded and installed from the Mac App Store.

This method may not be the best when it comes to how to uninstall programs on Mac, but it’s definitely one of the simplest.

  • Open Launchpad and find whichever app you want to uninstall
  • Click and hold on the app’s icon until the apps begin to wiggle (just like on an iPhone or iPad)
  • If If you installed the app you’re trying to delete from the Mac App Store, it will have an “x” button on the top left of its icon
  • Click on the “x” button — and voila!

Again, like deleting apps from your Applications folder, this method won’t eliminate 100% of the files an app may install on your computer. So if you’re wondering how to completely uninstall an app on Mac, check out the following method.

Method 3: Using AppCleaner to Fully Delete Apps

AppCleaner

As we’ve previously mentioned, two things usually happen when you install an app on macOS. First, the app itself will be installed into your Applications folder. And second, additional supporting files can get spread across your system in your library or other locations determined by the app.

Therefore, to delete an app entirely from your system, you need to remove the app from your applications folder and delete all the associated files.

AppCleaner is a free utility that helps you get rid of an app and all the files that are associated with it. Using it is simple.

  • Download and install AppCleaner from this link (don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for anything)
  • Once installed, double click to open AppCleaner to open it. It should look something like the below.
AppCleaner - Drop your apps here

There are two ways you can start uninstalling apps once you have AppCleaner open.

  1. You can drag and drop any application’s launch icon into the AppCleaner window and have it work its magic.
  2. You can click on the list button in the upper right-hand corner of the AppCleaner window to display a list of your currently installed programs.
List icon

Caption/Alt text: Clicking on the list icon will display the apps on your system

AppCleaner search

Clicking on any app listed here will open up a window where the app and all of its associated files are identified, like below:

18 files found by AppCleaner

From here, it’s as simple as clicking the Remove button, and it will get rid of the app and everything related to it. Thanks to how transparent AppCleaner is, you get to see a list of everything that you will delete in the process.

Another great feature that AppCleaner offers is the SmartDelete functionality baked into the app. When you toggle the SmartDelete feature on, AppCleaner will prompt you if you want to delete all associated files when you move any app to the Trash.

To use SmartDelete, simply open AppCleaner and navigate to the Preferences pane through the top menu bar. Once you get the preferences pane open, click on the SmartDelete tab.

SmartDelete option

Then, all you have to do is click the switch to turn it on!

Method 4: Using an App’s Dedicated Installer

Sometimes, apps will come with their own install utility — and a corresponding uninstall utility. These apps have update or helper utilities installed alongside the apps themselves. These utilities can make it difficult to uninstall the apps fully.

Adobe is notorious for making it unnecessarily harder to uninstall everything. Even deleting the app(s) through AppCleaner won’t always eliminate leftover files.

The only way you can 100% remove apps like these is by using the included uninstaller. Here’s how:

  • Open Spotlight by clicking on the magnifying glass on the right-hand side of your top menu bar or by pressing cmd (⌘) + space.
  • Type an app’s name, then “uninstaller”
  • Open the uninstaller and go through the process.

If nothing comes up on your Mac, try searching the internet for an app’s uninstaller. Sometimes, a software company or developer will allow you to download a specific uninstaller so you can make sure everything pertinent is gone from your system.

Method 5: Removing Files Through Your Mac’s Library

If you’re still wondering how to uninstall applications on Mac, you can try the fifth method: deleting files from your Mac’s library. Using this method, you can delete preference files and caches as well.

Before attempting this method, know that it can be dangerous — especially if you’re not sure what you’re doing. You may accidentally delete a file crucial to your system, resulting in crashes, lost data, and a malfunctioning computer.

If you know what you’re doing and which specific files to delete, here’s what you need to do:

  • Navigate to the hidden Library folder by opening Finder
  • Hover your mouse over the “Go” button on your top menu bar while holding down the option (⌥) key
  • Click on “Library”

You can search for any apps or files you want to delete. Move the files to the trash can and empty the trash to delete them permanently!

Method 6: Remove Apps Using Terminal

Where Windows has the CMD/Command Prompt, macOS has Terminal. Terminal is a powerful tool that allows you to do everything yourself instead of using a third-party service or app. Here’s how to remove apps from MacBook using Terminal:

  • Open Terminal using Spotlight or by navigating to Applications > Utilities > Terminal
Terminal window
  • Once open, type the command: sudo uninstall file://
  • Drag any app icon into the Terminal window to auto-populate the app’s path
Uninstall app on Mac using Terminal
  • Press enter, input your password, and Terminal will work its magic

If problems arise, you can use the command sudo rm -rf instead. Add a space at the end of the command, drag an app into Terminal, then press enter. However, be careful if you use sudo rm-rf, as if you make a mistake or use the incorrect path, it may result in data loss.

Wrapping Up: How Do You Uninstall an App on Mac?

The six methods listed above for how to delete an app on Mac should help you completely remove any unwanted program from your system. Make sure that you maintain your computer and remove apps you never use to free up some space and keep your machine performing at its best.

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Chriselle Sy
Chriselle Sy
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Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.

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