How to completely uninstall an app on Mac and delete all junk files

How to completely uninstall an app on Mac and delete all junk files

One of the good things about a Mac is that when you want to uninstall a program, it’s much easier than Windows. On Windows, you have to open up the uninstallation part of the program and wait for it to uninstall. On a Mac, you simply have to drag the program to the Trash bin (and enter the administrator password in some cases). This is assuming though that the app in question is not “protected”. Protected apps are unable to be uninstalled as MacOS considers them essential to the smooth running of the system. These would be apps such as Chess, Launchpad, Mission Control, and everything in the Utilities folder.


Although dragging an app to the Trash removes it from your Mac hard drive, it can still leave temporary files and other detritus lying around which can clog up the MacOS pipes in the long term.

Here are two methods to try and delete those needless trash files to free up more space on your Mac, and keep it running smoothly.

Use AppCleaner To Automate The Process

For a thorough cleaning out when uninstalling an app, look no further than the free AppCleaner app. I have been using this for years and it has never let me down once.

The best thing to do is pin the AppCleaner icon to your Dock. Then when you want to uninstall something, drag the app’s icon from Applications down to AppCleaner in the Dock. This will open up AppCleaner and give you a complete list of all the files associated with that app.

appcleaner for completely uninstalling apps on mac

Make sure all of the boxes on the left-hand side are ticked then click “Remove”. For some apps, you may have to confirm this removal with your administrator password. Then the files will be nuked.

You can also remove widgets and plugins directly from AppCleaner. So if you have a particularly annoying plugin that you can’t completely remove from your system, let AppCleaner handle it for you.

removing plugins on appcleaner

Look For Malware & Spam Files With Malwarebytes

Although Windows is more of a higher target when it comes to spam and malware, MacOS is starting to get its fair share too. That’s why if you carelessly install something dodgy (i.e. outside the app store), you might end up with some malware on your system. AppCleaner will likely not catch it so you will have to turn to Malwarebytes.

The program will push you towards a paid premium version but just say no and it will grudgingly give you a 14 day Premium trial period instead. You can easily downgrade to the free version after this has expired. Then give Malwarebytes full disk access to your Mac and start the scan.

malwarebytes for mac

Obviously, it goes without saying that you should never delete something if you are not 100% sure what it does. You may very well end up messing up your computer, necessitating a complete system reset. But using AppCleaner and Malwarebytes removes a lot of the risk. It knows what to remove and does the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

Mac does make things simpler than what you would have needed to do on Windows. But many users still prefer Windows for various reasons. We’ll be covering the process on Windows as well soon enough, but until then, you can check out our recommendations for the best laptops and the best 15-inch laptops. If you want to stick with a Mac, make the most of it with these recommended Mac accessories.

About author

Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill

Mark O'Neill is a freelance writer, editor, and bestselling fiction author. Since 2004, he has written on technology subjects such as MacOS, iOS, cybersecurity, and online privacy. Originally from Scotland, he is now based in Würzburg, Germany, where he lives with his wife and dog. Please direct all email enquiries to [email protected]

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