Deleting or removing an application from a Mac can be both deceptively simple and surprisingly complex. Many applications can be deleted by simply dragging them to the Trash. However, this method will often leave small, related files tucked into various folders on the Mac. Thus, it is useful to know about some other ways to uninstall a Mac application. This article covers a couple of options.
Option 1: Some applications come with their own uninstallers.
As an example, the installer for CrashPlan, a backup application, includes an uninstaller. Adobe’s Creative Suite applications are notorious for installing many related files in many folders scattered around a Mac’s hard drive. Consequently, when a Creative Suite application is installed, it also installs a custom uninstaller that can be used to remove Creative Suite and all related files. The customer uninstaller is typically placed in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Installers).
Option 2: Use a third-party uninstaller.
AppCleaner is a free uninstaller that is easy to use. Simply open AppCleaner and drag an application from the Mac’s Application folder into the AppCleaner window, then click the Delete button. AppCleaner will do its best to remove the selected application and all related files. In my experience it does a good job at this. Lifehacker reviews AppCleaner and some other well-respected application uninstallers. In particular, read the review of CleanApp, $15. CleanApp is the most expensive of the application uninstallers, but it also has the most features, which go beyond simply removing applications. If, like me, you continually install applications to test them, then need to remove them a week later, it can be helpful to have CleanApp installed ahead of time since it’ll monitor exactly what pieces are installed and make sure they can be removed later on. CleanApp also has some hard drive clean-up functions. Like OmniDisksweeper, it can help you clean-up your hard drive and free up space on it. It has a function to help you find duplicate files, but I haven’t tested this feature. If you’re interested in CleanApp, you could also check out this MacNews review of it.
Here are my bottom line recommendations. Whenever possible, use the application’s own uninstaller. When this isn’t an option, use AppCleaner. If you like to install and remove a lot of applications, consider investing in CleanApp. Before you delete an application, make sure you have backed up your Mac using Time Machine so you can undo the uninstall if the need arises.