How to uninstall apps on Mac (macOS Big Sur or later)

How to uninstall apps on a Mac

Your Mac might have multiple apps that you no longer use and want to get rid of. But there are multiple ways of uninstalling apps on Mac depending on how you installed them.

For instance, if you’ve downloaded it from the App Store, uninstalling it is straightforward, but it gets a little tricky if you’ve installed it from other sources. Some apps come with uninstallers, while others don’t!

Read on this step-by-step guide to learn how to uninstall apps on Mac running macOS Big Sur or later.

Note: It is not possible to delete a running app. Ensure you quit the app before uninstalling it.

How to uninstall Mac apps: For App Store apps

  1. Open Launchpad. You may also press command + space bar and type Launchpad.
  2. Press and hold the option key.
  3. Click x on the app icon’s top.
  4. Finally, click Delete.Delete Mac apps via Launchpad

Tip: You may also drag an app from Launchpad into the Trash to delete it.

If you cannot delete an app using the above method, follow the steps below. It works for almost all apps (except the core apps like Safari, Mail, etc.).

Uninstall Mac apps using Finder: For other apps

  1. Open Finder and click Applications from the left Sidebar.
  2. Right-click an app. You may also press the control key and click.
  3. Click Move to Trash.
  4. If you see a popup to enter your Mac’s password, please do that.Delete Mac app using Finder
  5. Finally, right-click the Trash icon from the Dock and empty it.Empty Trash on Mac

How to completely uninstall an app on Mac

When you delete a Mac app via the above two methods, chances are some application folders and files may be left behind on your Mac. Only the actual .app file and some of its data are erased. I have listed two methods below to properly uninstall an app on Mac.

Using third-party apps

You can use an uninstaller app like AppCleaner or CleanMyMac. It deep scans and helps you locate and remove those files that the standard uninstallation process would usually leave behind. I have used AppCleaner for the example (the tool I have been using for several years now).

  1. Download and install the compatible version of AppCleaner.
  2. Open AppCleaner and click the four lines icon at the top right.
  3. Click the app you wish to delete. Let it complete searching files and folders.
  4. You can manually check files or folders in the search result if not checked by default. Next, click Remove and authenticate using Mac’s password.
  5. Finally, empty Mac’s Trash.Use AppCleaner to delete Mac apps and their associated files and folders

The steps will differ if you use some other tool for this. But most uninstaller apps make the experience effortless.

Using the native uninstaller

Some apps (most likely from big companies like Adobe and Microsoft) may come with an uninstaller bundled in. This helps you get a clean uninstallation without following any of the methods mentioned above.

You will find the uninstaller file in the FinderApplicationsapplication folder (most likely). Open it and launch the uninstaller file. Next, follow the simple on-screen prompts to delete the said app.

What to do when Mac apps won’t delete?

At times, you might see the popup saying the app you are trying to delete is open and, thus, can’t be removed. In AppCleaner, you might see some locked apps.

When you come across this, quit the app. For this, right-click the open app icon in the Dock and choose Quit.

However, sometimes even after quitting, you may continue to see this popup. Look at the top Menu Bar and ensure the app has no icons. If yes, click it, and most likely, you will see the Settings icon that will have the ‘Quit’ option.

Secondly, you may press command + option + esc for the Force Quit menu. Now, select the app and click Force Quit.

If nothing works, restart the Mac. This will close the app, following which you can delete it. (Make sure the said app is not set to open automatically on startup.)

Locations from where you can manually delete app data

After deleting an app, you may also manually eliminate the support files, cache, cookies, preferences list, etc. Below are the locations where you would find those files. To go to these locations, open Finder → click Go at the top Menu Bar → Select Go to Folder → copy-paste the location listed below.

Once done, see if you find folders and files that have the app name you just deleted. Once you locate those unnecessary files, right-click and choose Move to Trash.

Note: Options below might seem similar, but they all open different folders.

  • /Library
  • ~/Library/
  • /Library/Caches
  • ~/Library/Caches
  • /Library/Application Support
  • ~/Library/Application Support
  • /Library/Preferences
  • ~/Library/Preferences
  • /Library/LaunchAgents
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  • /Library/PreferencePanes
  • ~/Library/PreferencePanes
  • /Library/LaunchDaemonsDelete App Cache on Mac

Mac app successfully deleted!

I believe now you know a little more about uninstalling apps on your Mac. My preferred (and most used) method is AppCleaner. Which one do you find more straightforward? Let us know in the comments below.

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