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Need to know how to uninstall programs on a Mac?

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How to Delete Programs on a Mac

Compared to Windows, uninstalling from a Mac is a little more difficult. It may seem that, to delete an app, you just need to drag its icon to the Trash and then empty the Trash. However, applications uninstalled in this way frequently leave behind unwanted files that accumulate on your hard disk, using up valuable storage space and slowing your computer down. Also, certain pre-installed Mac OS X applications that have no icons (Safari, Mail, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and a few others) can’t be deleted in this fashion.

There are several ways to completely uninstall software on a Mac, including the use of an effective and safe app removal tool like Movavi Mac Cleaner. The cleaner will help you automatically delete all files associated with the uninstalled programs in just a couple of clicks. We’ve described these ways in more detail below.

Removing Programs Using the Applications Folder

With most apps, you can simply select Applications in the Finder window, add their icons to the Trash, and then empty it.

However, there may be difficulties with this approach:

  • Some programs may ask for a password, so the user has to have administrator rights.
  • If you try deleting pre-installed apps, you will get a message indicating that this can’t be done (see the items below for more information on dealing with this problem).
  • Apps with no icons in this folder can’t be removed.
  • Most programs leave behind unused files that you’ll have to delete manually.

Deleting Pre-Installed Apps

Before uninstalling anything using this method, please note that we don’t recommend it because the app deletion process is complete and irreversible and may result in damage to your system’s integrity. Proceed with the utmost caution, and don’t forget to create a backup beforehand.

In the /Applications/Utilities/ folder, locate and run the Terminal. To delete any such programs off your Mac, carefully type one of the following commands.

  • Deleting Safari:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/Safari.app

  • Deleting Mail:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/Mail.app

  • Deleting FaceTime:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/FaceTime.app

  • Deleting PhotoBooth:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/Photo\ Booth.app

  • Deleting QuickTime Player:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/QuickTime\ Player.app

  • Deleting Stickies:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/Stickies.app

  • Deleting Chess:

    sudo rm -rf /Applications/Chess.app

This method only works on OS X 10.10 Yosemite and earlier. On later versions, such as OS X 10.11 El Capitan, you’ll first have to disable System Integrity Protection – a security feature that limits what the root user can do, thus protecting your system from malware. Again, this is not recommended because it exposes your system to potential virus attacks.

A much safer and easier way is to use a special app remover like Movavi Mac Cleaner. See below for more details.

Uninstalling Apps with No Icons from the Applications Folder

Unlike Windows, there is no separate uninstaller in Mac OS X. If you want to delete a specific program that has no icon in the Applications folder, you have to look for the appropriate instructions on the Web. Also note that certain apps have uninstallers of their own.

Deleting App Files Manually

To clean up leftover files associated with unwanted apps, go to Library located in the user’s name folder. Search the subfolders for files with similar names to the apps you want to remove or containing the name of a related company:

/Library/Application Support/

/Library/Preferences/

/Library/PreferencePanes

/Library/LaunchAgents

/Library/LaunchDaemons

/Library/StartupItems

/Library/Caches/

/Library/Saved Application State/

/Library/Address Book Plug-Ins/

/Library/Application Support/CrashReporter/

Delete all the things you want from your system and empty the Trash afterwards.
Note that some programs can also have kernel extensions – these are files with the extension “.kext” needed for the correct operation of your Mac and located in /System/Library/Extensions. Delete these files only if you’re absolutely sure that you no longer need the related programs.

Some apps can have hidden files, many of which are located in your Home folder. To delete these, you’ll need to access the Terminal and display the full contents of the directories.

Be very careful not to remove any important system files. If you’re in any doubt, it’s best to download our cleaning utility to do this task – see below for more details.

Using Movavi Mac Cleaner

To uninstall programs on a Mac in the easiest way possible, use Movavi Mac Cleaner. It’s going to save you a lot of time and will safely clean up all unwanted apps and files associated with them on your Apple computer – whether it’s an iMac, Macbook Pro, or Mac Air.

Just download Movavi Mac Cleaner and follow these simple instructions on how to remove programs from a Mac.

Step-by-Step Guide

  • 1. Install the App Remover

    Open the installation file and follow the instructions on your screen.

  • 2. Review the Overall Condition of Your Mac

    When it’s first launched, Mac Cleaner will do a quick check of your hard drive and show you the total number of junk files on your computer. If you want, you can click Start Cleaning to delete these files and free up disk space right away. If you don’t need to remove junk files at this time, simply move on to the next step.

  • 3. Completely Uninstall Applications

    Go to the Uninstaller menu and wait for Mac Cleaner to identify all the applications on your Mac. Once that’s done, you’ll see three submenus above the list of apps: User Apps, OS X Apps, and Leftovers.

    To remove no longer needed applications that you’ve installed yourself, click User Apps, locate the programs, check the boxes next to the icons in the list for the programs you want to uninstall, and click Remove.

    If you want to uninstall pre-installed applications (Safari, FaceTime, Mail, etc.), go to the OS X Apps submenu. The uninstall procedure is the same as for User Apps above.

    To remove stuff left behind by certain apps, click Leftovers and follow the same steps as above; just check the relevant boxes and click Remove. That’s all there is to it!


Movavi Mac Cleaner

The best cleanup tool for every Mac user!

  • Delete junk files to free up hard drive space
  • Completely uninstall unnecessary apps
  • Protect your Mac against cyberthreats
  • Speed up system performance

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