A Beginner’s Guide to Uninstalling Apps On Your Mac

New Mac users may have trouble figuring out how to uninstall apps. For most apps, it is just a matter of using LaunchPad. This will allow you to easily and cleanly uninstall apps that you obtained from the Mac App Store. You can also usually just put applications in the trash and delete them like normal files. In some situations you may need to run an uninstaller that came with the original app, or follow some instructions at the official app website. But you should not use any third-party special uninstaller or cleaner apps.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Uninstalling Apps On Your Mac.

If you're new to Mac one of the things you may not know how to do is how to uninstall apps. There are several different ways and it depends upon where you get the app from. Now if you're new to Mac you should be getting most of your apps from the Mac App Store. If you do, then all you need to do is go to Launchpad. Launchpad is not only a great way to launch new apps but it's how you delete apps from your system that you downloaded from the Mac App Store.

The way to do it is to click and hold any app. It doesn't matter which one. Wait a few seconds until everything starts to jiggle. You'll see little x's appear at the upper left hand corner of any app that you can uninstall through Launchpad. So you can swipe through these and select an app, click the x and it will uninstall it.

Now notice that some of these don't have the little x next to it. That means they weren't instilled through the Mac App Store or that they are part of the operating system like you'll notice that some of the default apps like Mail and Contacts can be removed.

So if it's one of those then what you're going to want to do is go to the Applications folder to uninstall it. So go back to the Finder here and we'll do Go and then we'll go to Applications. Now the first thing you want to do with the app that you want to uninstall is to see if there's an Uninstaller app with the main app. For instance, here's Adobe Photoshop and notice that Adobe Photoshop is a folder. I go into it and there's the actual application. There is also an Uninstall link right there.That will launch a part of Photoshop that actually cleanly uninstalls everything. So a lot of pro level software have this uninstaller there. So you want to look for that first.

Now if you don't find that then usually it's perfectly safe to simply delete the application from the Application folder. So you select the application, drag it to the Trash just as you would throw away any other file. Then you can empty the Trash. That's all you need to do.

Now some people say, well but that doesn't get rid of the Preference files. Preference files are really tiny little things and they don't get in the way. Kind of like worrying about the dirt you might track into your car and if the extra weight might actually reduce your gas mileage. These files are so tiny that you don't have to worry about it. If you ever need to bring the app back in the Preferences are still there.

Now that said, if you're having trouble getting rid of an app. Say it's something that is actually a system extension and does all sorts of things, adds extra functionality as you're using your Mac, then you may need to do a custom set of uninstall instructions. The way to find those is to go to the web and search for them. BUT this is kind of a danger zone.

Notice here I'm searching for uninstall better touch tool and I'll come up with some form links which are fine. They may or may not include good information. But I'm also going to come across a lot of websites that claim to tell you how to uninstall things. If you click on these, I won't show you any of them, they are actually going to try and sell you cleaner tools and uninstaller tools and things you don't need. These are things that are just going to do exactly what you can do yourself. Throw away the app, for instance. Or follow a set of instructions to get rid of the app. You don't need to pay for them. You don't need to have this extra piece of junk on your system and I definitely recommend you don't download any of these because they're just trying to get your money and they really don't give you anything extra.

Instead look for the official site for that software. A lot of times you can find it by looking in About This App in the app itself. But you can also search for the official site. If you're sure you are at the official site, like for instance for this BetterTouch Tool here's the official site for it, and sure enough if I go Documentation there's Uninstall and here's a set of uninstall instructions for you. Any good software is going to have a set of uninstall instructions if they're even needed. A lot of times you won't find it because all you need to do is throw the application to the Trash or if you downloaded it from the Mac App Store use Launchpad and delete it that way.

So it's pretty easy. There's no big mystery to it. You just have to do one of those things. If you stick to the Mac App Store it's really easy. Just use Launchpad and uninstall the apps that way.

Comments: 10 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Uninstalling Apps On Your Mac”

    1 year ago

    Thanks for this Gary; very useful info even for someone who isn’t a beginner.

    Simon D Young
    1 year ago

    Thank you for this! I’ve used Macs for years, and never knew how simple is to get rid of unwanted apps. Much appreciated!

    Harold Appel
    1 year ago

    I use the free AppCleaner which removes all that “dust” safely as far as I can tell. Am I dumb?

    1 year ago

    Harold: Unnecessary, You don’t need to use any “app cleaners.”

    1 year ago

    I too use a free AppCleaner from freemacsoft.net and have been happy with it for years as it shows the cruft that it deletes as well as the app.

    Ken Hoyle
    1 year ago

    Hi Gary,
    I Have to disagree. I have often done what you say only to find Folders in Application Support, Launch Agents/ Daemons, caches/ logs as as well as prefs. I have used AppCleaner for years and find it removes 90% of the stuff left behind by your simple method. I have also found that even ‘Uninstallers’ can leave behind Folders and files which are difficult to find by “Newbies” Agree to avoid MacKeeper. Very few Apps come with an Uninstaller and it can be hard to locate!

    Randy Miller
    1 year ago

    I use clean my MAC 3 – Is this an unnecessary piece of software?

    1 year ago

    Randy: In my opinion, yes. I don’t use any “cleaners” at all.

    Mac Carter
    1 year ago

    I also disagree regarding not using certain TRUSTED 3rd party apps to remove the support files stored in various library folders. I too have often done what you say only to find app related folders in Application Support, Launch Agents/ Daemons, caches/ logs, preferences, etc. I have used AppDelete for many years and find it removes 95% of the stuff left behind by your method. I also find that ‘Uninstallers’ leave behind folders full of support files and sometimes do not delete the app itself.

    1 year ago

    I agree with Gary. The so-called “cruft” that these apps remove represents merely an infinitesimal reduction in the content of a Mac’s hard disk, at the risk of removing functions shared with remaining applications. If you read carefully the claims of users boasting reductions of many GBs, it is usually because they have chosen to also remove content which they may later regret having removed. When I do a spotlight search, it quickly turns up valuable relevant data from 10-20 years ago.

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