How To Delete Applications On Mac

A common complaint among personal computer users has always been about how difficult it can be to uninstall applications. This is typically true of PCs, even when an Uninstall application has been supplied for use. However, most computer users find themselves pleasantly surprised, and even shocked, when they learn how to delete applications on Mac computers. The process can be done in a few different ways, and each method is incredibly simple and effective.

What Are Applications on Mac?

graphic illustration depicting Mac application window
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Macintosh, or Mac, computers are a brand of personal computers that have been on the market since the 1980s. The brand is manufactured by Apple and has been a standard choice among graphic designers and educators. In the past two decades, Macs have become popular among regular computer users as well, and they are the main competition of Windows-based personal computers.

The applications on a Mac are similar to those on a PC. Each Mac comes with several applications that are standard with the operating system, including the App Store, Safari, GarageBand, iBooks, iMovie, and iTunes, among many other basic computer apps. In addition to the standard apps, a user can download applications from the App Store (some are free, and some have a price), or a user can download/install apps from a software developer’s website. Examples of software that one might purchase from a third-party might be the Microsoft Office Suite or Adobe Creative Suite.

Why Delete Applications on a Mac?

Someone might decide to delete applications from their Mac for any myriad of reasons. Perhaps the user grew tired of using a program and wanted to create more room on the Mac for other applications and files. Maybe the user downloaded the wrong program by mistake, or they downloaded a program and realized afterward that it was not the program for their specific needs. Whatever the case may be, when removing a program from any computer, the user wants to make sure all supporting files and elements are deleted along with the main application.

When learning how to delete applications on Mac computers, it might be helpful to understand why the process is so different from a Windows PC. The way that Windows machines are structured has forced software developers to create installer wizards that install fragmented data in several locations on the hard drive. Due to the complicated nature of program installation, uninstalling the programs can be challenging because so many parts are scattered in different places. Therefore, most Windows users know to use an application’s companion Uninstaller program to most effectively remove a program.

Applications on a Mac are organized a bit differently. Modern Macs are based on the Unix operating system’s method of storing complete programs inside the Applications folder. While there might be preferences and support files in other locations on the Mac, an application itself can be entirely deleted all at one time. This eliminates the need for a separate Uninstaller application in most instances, and it makes the process super simple for the user. In most cases, an application can simply be removed by throwing it away. We will get into the steps for how to delete applications on Mac computers next.

How to Delete Applications on Mac

In general, the Mac operating system is the easiest from which to remove applications. In most cases, it can be done with a few intuitive clicks and maneuvers. There are a few different methods, and we’ll cover those here.

How to Delete Applications on Mac Using the Trash

trash icon, one of the easiest way to remove applications on computer
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Many users who are accustomed to uninstalling programs in Windows find it hard to believe that, on a Mac, all they have to do is just throw the application in the trash and then empty the trash. This has been the standard method for deleting Mac applications since the operating system was first introduced, and it remains an effective way to do so even today. We will break it down in some overly simplified steps below.

  • Open Finder by clicking on the icon on the dock (it is a two-tone blue smiley face)
  • Click on the Applications folder on the left side of the Finder window
  • Inside the Applications folder, find and select the program that needs to be deleted (if the application is housed inside a folder along with an Uninstall file, please stop here and see the below section on using an Uninstaller)
  • Place the application into the Trash on the Desktop (there are four ways to do this: drag and drop, use the key command “Command-Delete,” select “Move to Trash” from the File menu, or right click on the application and select “Move to Trash”)
  • Empty the Trash (there are three ways to do this: use the key command “Command-Shift-Delete,” right click on the Trash icon to select “Empty Trash,” or choose “Empty Trash” from the File menu)
  • There are times when a password might be requested; if so, enter your password

How to Delete Applications on Mac Using Launchpad

Using Launchpad to delete applications has been a feature since Mac introduced it on the Lion and Mountain Lion operating systems. It might not be as simple as throwing the application in the Trash, but it might be more intuitive to those users who are used to removing apps from Apple’s iOS on the iPhone. Launchpad can only be used to delete applications that have been downloaded from the App Store. We will break the process down below.

  • Open Launchpad by clicking on the icon on the dock (it looks like a rocket ship inside a circle)
  • Once the list of installed applications appears, scroll left or right to locate the application that needs to be deleted
  • Click on the application’s icon, hold, and wait for the application to start shaking
  • If an “X” appears on the upper left corner of the application’s icon, the “X” can be clicked to delete the app (if there is no “X,” it means that this particular application was not obtained from the App Store and cannot be deleted using Launchpad)
  • Once the “X” has been clicked, a prompt will appear asking the user if they are sure they want to delete; confirm “Delete.”

How to Delete Applications on Mac Using an Uninstaller

While using an Uninstaller application is fairly routine on Windows, it is not a common occurrence on Macs. However, some more heavy-duty applications from software brands like Adobe and Microsoft do typically come with their own Uninstall files. This is because when these applications are originally installed, they will also install additional helper applications and files in other spots on the computer.

When deleting complex programs like these, the user can choose to manually find and move all the program’s components to the Trash; however, it is a safer bet to just use the official Uninstaller app because it has been programmed specifically to do all the work for the user.

  • Open Finder by clicking on the icon on the dock (it is a two-tone blue smiley face)
  • Click on the Applications folder on the left side of the Finder window
  • Inside the Applications folder, locate and select the application that needs to be deleted (it will be inside a folder, along with its own Uninstaller application)
  • Double click the Uninstaller application to launch it
  • Follow the on-screen instructions (note that these instructions will vary from one Uninstaller to another)

Removing Application Library Files, Preferences, and Caches

When deleting some more complex applications as we discussed in the “How to Delete Applications on Mac Using an Uninstaller” section, if the user chooses to do so manually, there might be remaining components left in various locations on the computer. These left-behind caches and preference files are usually harmless, but if the user wishes to remove them all, they just need to locate them and move them to the Trash for deletion. To simplify the process, one can use a utility such as AppCleaner, which will remove the application and all of its support files.

Below, we will list some common hiding places for stray application files.

  • Application support files can be found here: ~/Library/Application Support/(App Name)
  • Preferences can be found here: ~/Library/Preferences/(App Name)
  • Caches can be found here: ~/Library/Caches/(App Name)


mac computer showing dock where you can find the trash, one of the ways to resolve issue on how to delete applications on mac
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In short, deleting applications from a Mac computer is an easy and intuitive process. The user can choose to accomplish this in a few different ways. The most common and easiest route is simply placing the application’s icon into the Trash and then emptying the Trash. The process is straightforward, and it works for the majority of apps on a Mac.

Using Launchpad is another easy route which has a look and feel that is nearly identical to deleting apps from the iPhone iOS, so some users might be more inclined to use this process. Mac programs are not immune to needing their own Uninstaller apps, but this is a rare occurrence, and when it does happen, the process is easily followed using on-screen prompts. We are confident that most users should find deleting applications on Mac computers a simple task that they can easily perform in a few seconds.

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