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How to uninstall programs on a Mac

Before we start

Having spent some years coding applications for macOS we’ve created a tool that everybody can use. The all-round problem fixer for Mac.

CleanMyMac X

So here's a tip for you: Download CleanMyMac to quickly solve some of the issues mentioned in this article. But to help you do it all by yourself, we’ve gathered our best ideas and solutions below.

Features described in this article refer to the MacPaw site version of CleanMyMac X.

Quick question – how do you uninstall programs on Mac?

The logic tells us we should simply drag an unwanted app to the Bin. Alas, it is not quite so. Dragging normal files like documents and movies to the Trash works fine. But doing the same for apps leaves tons of leftover junk files on your hard drive.

An app is stored in more than one place Many apps have small “satellite” apps Some apps have unusual locations For example, Steam games are stored in a custom folder, that’s why deleting such apps is a bit harder. We’re going to show you what gets left behind and what you can do to completely uninstall apps from here on out.

How to uninstall on Mac

If you are trying to delete an old application, reinstall a corrupted software or just free up disk space on your Mac, removing all components of the program is important. These include the app, its preferences and support files, and sometimes other hidden files.

To completely uninstall a program on Mac you have to choose one of three options:

Using Trash. Using Launchpad. Using a native uninstaller. The ways mentioned above include navigating your Mac’s in search of the apps you want to remove and then locating their remaining data. The latter can take even more place than the app itself and can be stored anywhere in your folders.

I prefer clearing my Mac from apps using special software made for this particular task - CleanMyMac X. It’s Uninstaller feature, is an app-killer that sweeps away any program you don’t want on your Mac and clears remaining junk.

Now let’s go ahead and delete some apps!

1. Uninstall Mac apps using Trash

Whether you're running macOS Big Sur or an earlier macOS, like Catalina or Mojave, the process of manually uninstalling apps remains relatively similar. Here’s what you need to do:

Open Finder. Go to Applications. Choose the app you want to delete. Press Command + Delete (⌘⌫). Open Trash. Click the Empty button in the upper-right corner of the window. And the app is gone.

Uninstalling apps on macOS Big Sur still requires getting rid of leftovers, despite the fact that it's the latest and the most sophisticated system for Mac. Apple has done such a good job on recent macOS versions but de-installation to this day remains an issue.

To completely remove programs from Mac manually, you have to find all the associated files that come along with the app. That means not just dragging the app icon to the Trash from your Applications folder, but searching the depths of the system files on your Mac.

For example, here's one app storing cache in different places on your Mac: