How to Completely Uninstall Apps on Your Mac

You’ve probably downloaded a variety of apps on your Mac over time—some from the App Store and others from various corners of the internet. But what happens when these apps outlive their usefulness, or they have stopped responding, or you simply just need to free up some much-needed space on your Mac? The answer might seem straightforward: just delete them. However, the process of uninstalling apps on a Mac is not as simple as dragging an icon to the trash bin. Leftover files often lurk in hidden folders, silently consuming storage space. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, offering step-by-step methods to uninstall apps and delete those pesky leftover files completely. Whether you’re a Mac newbie or a seasoned user, this article is your go-to resource for cleaning up your Applications folder and reclaiming your storage space.

Why Do You Want to Uninstall Apps on Your Mac?

The reasons for wanting to uninstall apps on your Mac can vary widely among users. For some, it’s a matter of decluttering the digital workspace and improving system performance. Unused or rarely used apps can take up valuable storage space and even slow down your Mac over time. For others, it may be about security concerns; outdated apps can become targets for malware or other security threats. Additionally, you might simply want to make room for new apps that better suit your current needs or lifestyle. Whatever the reason, understanding how to uninstall apps properly is crucial for maintaining an efficient and secure Mac system.

What Happens When You Delete Apps on Mac?

Deleting an app on your Mac might seem like a straightforward process, but it’s not always as simple as it appears. When you delete an app, especially by dragging it to the trash, you’re often only removing the application itself and not the additional files that came with it. These “leftover files” can include settings, cache data, and other support files stored in various folders on your Mac. Over time, these remnants can accumulate, taking up storage space and potentially affecting your Mac’s performance. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how to uninstall apps to ensure that no leftover files remain completely.

How to Use Launchpad to Uninstall Apps?

Launchpad is a convenient way to uninstall apps downloaded from the App Store. To use Launchpad, open it and find the app you want to uninstall. Press and hold the app icon until it starts to jiggle, then click the “X” to delete the app. However, this method may not completely remove all associated files.

Is Finder the Best Way to Uninstall Apps on a Mac?

Finder is often considered the go-to method for uninstalling apps on a Mac, primarily because it’s built into the macOS and is readily accessible. Using Finder, you can navigate to the Applications folder and simply move the app to the trash. However, this method has its limitations. While it removes the main application, it often leaves behind associated files and folders, which can clutter your system. For a more thorough removal, third-party uninstallers or specialized software might be more effective. So, while Finder is convenient and user-friendly, it may not be the best for a complete uninstall.

What Are Uninstallers and How Do They Work on Mac?

Uninstallers are third-party apps designed to uninstall apps and their associated files completely. These uninstallers for Mac can be downloaded from the App Store or trusted websites. Once downloaded, open the uninstaller and follow the onscreen instructions to remove the app and its related files.

How to Delete Apps Downloaded from the App Store?

To delete apps downloaded from the Mac App Store, you can use either Launchpad or Finder. Both methods are effective but may not completely uninstall an app and its leftover files.

How to Remove an App Using macOS Settings?

Starting with macOS Catalina and extending to macOS Ventura, you can also uninstall apps via the System Preferences. Navigate to the “Apps” section, select the app you want to remove, and click “Uninstall.”

What About Apps Downloaded from the Internet?

Apps downloaded from the internet can be a bit trickier to uninstall compared to those obtained from the Mac App Store. These apps often come with their own uninstallers, but not always. If they don’t, using Finder to delete the app might leave behind associated files, just like with App Store apps. Moreover, some of these internet-downloaded apps may install additional components in system folders, making them harder to remove completely. Therefore, for a thorough uninstallation, you might want to consider third-party uninstallers that can dig deep into your system to remove all traces of the app.

Are There Any Third-Party Uninstallers for Mac?

Yes, there are several third-party uninstallers for Macs available on the App Store or from trusted websites. These uninstallers aim to completely uninstall apps and their related files, ensuring that no leftover files remain on your Mac.

Apple Support: What Does It Say About Deleting Apps?

According to Apple Support, the recommended way to delete apps on a Mac is to use Finder or the built-in uninstall feature in macOS settings. However, for apps downloaded from the internet, it’s advised to use the app’s own uninstaller if available. Read more here.


The process of uninstalling apps on a Mac serves as a reminder that not all deletions are created equal. While the Mac operating system is designed for user-friendliness, it also has layers of complexity that require a more nuanced approach to app management. By understanding the intricacies of how apps are stored and what happens when you try to remove them, you empower yourself to maintain a cleaner, faster, and more efficient system. This isn’t just about reclaiming disk space; it’s about taking control of your digital environment. So the next time you decide to download that trendy new app, you’ll do so with the confidence that you can remove it—completely and efficiently—whenever you choose.
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