How to uninstall and delete apps on a Mac

Recently, while teaching our 10.8 Support Essentials courses, my delegates have been frequently asking whether it is possible to remove all files related to an App when it is deleted. (Mainly Windows Users wishing to have similar functionality on the Mac)

By default there are three ways in which to remove an application from your system:

  • To uninstall apps that you have purchased from the Mac App Store, hold the option key, while in Launchpad, and the icons will begin to wiggle. Click an app’s delete button (x) to uninstall the app. If an icon doesn’t have a delete button, that app can’t be uninstalled.
  • To uninstall other apps, drag the app to the Trash, and then choose Finder > Empty Trash. If you change your mind, before emptying the Trash, select the app in the Trash and then choose File > Put Back.
  • On the rare occasion, you may also find your apps come with their own uninstaller. This is only when an app developer deems it necessary to remove files stored outside the app that could be relatively large.

I have been experimenting with several App Deletion Software apps, in order to try and find the best, and most of them seem to work well. I feel that mostly it will turn out to be a personal choice for anyone wishing to delete app cache and preferences etc.

The one I am continuing to use at the moment, is AppCleaner. Like most people I love a good freebie and that is the first attractive feature to the app.

how to uninstall and delete apps from your mac

The interface is pretty clean and you can just simply drag your apps into the application and a list of related files with sizes will be shown. You can then check which you wish to remove and leave others you feel may be useful in the future. As you can see most are relatively small files which is why Apple don’t issue a full uninstaller for apps as most of the data is self contained within a Package. Office for Mac using AppCleaner will remove approx 2GB of data meanwhile dragging this into the trash removes 1.49GB so you can start to see over time this could waste a reasonable amount of space.

The other feature which makes this a useful app is the option to incorporate this into the Trash on your dock. In AppCleaner > Preferences is a Smart Delete feature.

smart delete feature app cleaner

By turning this on, any app you trash manually will offer you the additional files automatically, meaning you can trash as you normally would, without having to remember to run the app. Just select the additional files and click Delete. If you don’t wish to remove any additional files then click Cancel.

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