How To Uninstall A Mac Application (Step-By-Step Guide)

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Looking to quickly learn how to uninstall apps on your Mac and ensure no files are left behind? You’ve got it. From drag-and-drop to deeper cleanouts, our guide demystifies the uninstallation process, offering you peace of mind and a Mac free of unwanted apps.

Discover simple, clear-cut methods to achieve a clean uninstall every time.

Key takeaways

  • Proper uninstallation of Mac applications is crucial to remove all associated files and folders, free up disk space, maintain system organization, and prevent potential software issues or security vulnerabilities.
  • Third-party tools like SpyHunter’s App Uninstaller provide an automatic and efficient method for uninstalling Mac apps and ensuring enhanced privacy and security by thoroughly deleting unwanted residual files.
  • Manual uninstallation methods, including dragging apps to Trash and using Launchpad and Finder, are available but may leave behind residual files.

The importance of proper uninstallation

When you uninstall apps, the goal isn’t just to remove the app icon from sight. You want to obliterate every trace of its existence from your Mac. Why? Because correctly uninstalling Mac apps means:

  • Removing all associated files and folders
  • Freeing up disk space
  • Maintaining a clean and organized Mac
  • Preventing potential system issues

This optimization of system performance makes it easier to install apps and run them without cluttering your system, ensuring a smooth experience with other apps.

a macbook that is flooded with unused applications

On the flip side, not properly uninstalling Mac apps can leave behind associated files and folders, which take up storage space and potentially slow down your Mac.

Outdated apps that aren’t uninstalled can pose security risks if they aren’t updated to fix security vulnerabilities. So, whether you’re using the basic ‘drag to trash’ uninstall or a more advanced method like the Terminal, the goal is always to completely uninstall the app.

Uninstall applications automatically using SpyHunter

While manually uninstalling applications can be effective, it can also be time-consuming and tedious. Third-party tools like SpyHunter’s App Uninstaller allow you to remove apps instantly.

SpyHunter is a leading anti-malware solution that features an app uninstaller tool. It is designed to simplify your life by letting you easily view and manage your applications, making it a breeze to uninstall programs.

uninstall unwanted application using spyhunter's powerful app uninstaller

The app ensures enhanced privacy and security for Mac users by meticulously deleting hidden or leftover files and thoroughly uninstalling undesired applications.

  1. Download SpyHunter for free here and follow the installation instructions.
  2. Click on the App Uninstaller tab. This will initiate an automatic application scan.
  3. Select an app that you wish to delete.
  4. Follow the onscreen instructions provided by SpyHunter to remove the app quickly and effectively.

Methods to remove apps manually

If you prefer hands-on control, manual uninstallation methods offer a direct approach to removing apps.

Dragging app icon to the trash bin on Mac desktop

These methods include dragging apps to the Trash, utilizing the Launchpad for app deletion, and Finder-based uninstallation. Each method has its steps and limitations, which we’ll explore in the following subsections.

Moving applications to the Trash

Dragging an app to the trash icon is the most basic way to delete apps on your Mac. It’s as simple as selecting the app you want to delete and pressing Command + Delete on the keyboard.

But be cautious. This seemingly straightforward method has its limitations. While it removes the main app, it may not remove all the related files and folders, so it doesn’t completely uninstall the app.

After dragging an app to the Trash, it’s necessary to empty it to complete the uninstallation process. Right-click on the Trash icon and choose Empty Trash.

Be careful, though, as deleting the wrong files and apps might make your system unstable. If you accidentally drag an essential app to the Trash, you can restore it quickly. Simply drag it out of the Trash.

Uninstall programs using Launchpad

Launchpad is a user-friendly feature of macOS that provides an efficient method for removing apps. It’s convenient for deleting apps downloaded from the App Store.

  • Open Launchpad by clicking the Launchpad icon in the Dock or using the F4 key.
  • Locate the application you wish to remove. You may use the search feature if you have many apps.
  • Click and hold the app’s icon in Launchpad or press the Option key until the app jiggles and an ‘X’ button appears in its upper-left corner. Only the Mac App Store programs will have an ‘X’ button in the menu bar.
  • Click the delete button next to the app icon to remove the application. Confirm the deletion if prompted.

Launchpad doesn’t have specific limitations when deleting apps, but sometimes, deleted apps still appear in Launchpad even after deletion.

Uninstall apps via Finder

Finder is another tool you can use to uninstall apps on Mac. To do this:

  1. Open a new Finder window and navigate to the Applications folder.
  2. Then select the app you want to delete.
  3. Right-click it and select the Move to Trash option, or press Command + Delete to move it to the Trash.
delete a program from applications using the finder

This method allows you to uninstall apps manually and is particularly useful when you want to uninstall multiple apps simultaneously.

However, as with other manual methods, removing apps through a Finder window may leave residual files and fragments behind. These leftovers can hinder the complete removal of the app from your Mac.

Following up with a cleanup after uninstallation is essential, which we’ll discuss later in this blog post.

Advanced techniques to delete apps

For more tech-savvy users, advanced uninstallation methods provide a more profound control over the uninstallation process. These techniques include using Terminal commands and managing native uninstallers.

They go beyond just deleting the main program files and involve identifying and removing all associated files and directories related to the program.

Let’s delve into these advanced techniques.

Delete apps using Terminal commands

Terminal commands are one of the more advanced ways to uninstall apps on your Mac. Before you start typing commands, follow these steps:

  • Back up your important data.
  • Verify the accuracy of your commands.
  • Be mindful of potentially deleting essential system files.
  • Use the app’s uninstaller or a third-party uninstaller tool, such as SpyHunter, to avoid unintended consequences.

To completely remove apps with Terminal, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Terminal and type the following command sudo rm -rf.
  2. Drag and drop the application you wish to uninstall from Finder into the Terminal window to ensure accuracy. This action will automatically paste the app’s file path into the command line.
  3. Press Enter to execute the command. The Terminal may prompt you for your administrator password. Enter it to proceed with the uninstallation process.
  4. Verifying that the application has been removed is a good practice after executing the command. You can do this by checking the Applications folder and using Finder to search for any remaining associated files.

While this method can lead to increased efficiency, faster performance, and reduced resource consumption, taking specific precautions when using Terminal commands is crucial.

Managing native uninstallers

Some apps come with a built-in uninstaller, also known as native uninstaller. The software developers provide their own uninstallers, enabling users to remove the software and its associated files from their system.

You can typically find the native uninstaller in the Applications folder in Finder on your Mac.

They allow you to choose the files and data linked to an app you wish to remove. So, if you want a more controlled uninstallation method, managing native uninstallers can be a good option.

Dealing with preinstalled and system apps

Preinstalled apps are the software that comes with your Mac right out of the box, while system apps are integral parts of the macOS that keep your Mac running smoothly.

These apps can be tricky to handle when it comes to uninstallation, especially when you need to remove them from your Mac manually.

You can identify system apps on your Mac using the Activity Monitor app. But be cautious. Removing system apps can lead to personal data leakage, security vulnerabilities, and susceptibility to malware or spyware.

Therefore, thinking twice before uninstalling preinstalled and system apps is advisable.

Troubleshooting common uninstallation issues

Uninstallation isn’t always a smooth process. You may encounter a few hiccups along the way, such as being unable to uninstall running apps or dealing with incomplete uninstallation and orphan files.

Let’s look at these common issues and how to troubleshoot them.

Unable to uninstall running apps

One of the common issues Mac users face is being unable to uninstall running apps. This is because an app needs to be completely closed, not just inactive, before it can be uninstalled.

You can check if an app is running using the Activity Monitor app.

screenshot of the activity monitor app on macos

If you cannot quit a running app usually, you can force quit using the Activity Monitor. Locate the app and click the Stop button in the top-left corner. Then, select the Quit option to shut the app down.

Incomplete uninstallation and orphan files

Another common issue is incomplete uninstallation. This happens when the uninstallation process doesn’t remove all the related files of the software, leaving behind what’s known as orphan files.

These residual files can consume unnecessary disk space and potentially corrupt or damage backup data.

To deal with this, you can manually check the directories where the program was installed and delete any leftover files.

This process may involve looking in common locations where applications store data, such as the Applications folder, Library directory, or user-specific application support directories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I delete an app on my Mac?

If you can’t delete an app on your Mac and see a message saying, “The item can’t be moved to the trash because it’s open,” it means the app is still running in the background and needs to be closed first.

Try manually removing the app after force quitting or rebooting your Mac to resolve this. If the app cannot be deleted, it might be a preinstalled app that cannot be removed.

What is the importance of completely uninstalling apps on my Mac?

Completely uninstalling apps on your Mac is essential because it removes all associated files and directories, frees up disk space, maintains a clean and organized Mac, and prevents potential issues.

How can I uninstall apps using third-party tools?

You can uninstall apps using third-party tools like SpyHunter’s App Uninstaller by following the on-screen instructions provided by the tool. It’s an easy and efficient method for app removal.


Uninstalling apps on your Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Whether you manually uninstall apps, use third-party tools, or try advanced techniques, the key is to ensure a complete and thorough uninstallation.

Remember to quit running apps before uninstallation and clean up leftover files afterward. And if you encounter any issues, don’t panic.

Our troubleshooting guide is here to help. With these tools and tips, you can keep your Mac clean, organized, and running smoothly.

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