One of my favourite parts of using a Mac is how easy it is to uninstall a program. On a Windows computer, uninstalling often involves opening up “Programs & Features“, clicking the program, waiting patiently for the program to uninstall, and then having webpages opening up, asking me why I uninstalled the app (where’s the “none of your business” option?).
Today, we will go over the super-simple way of uninstalling a program from your Mac, before moving on to mass uninstallers and bloatware. If you love recovering hard drive space, the fun times are about to start.
The Dead Simple Way
As always, I like to start with the dead simple way, because who doesn’t like easy, right? In fact, this is so easy that you will probably wonder why we even bothered mentioning it.
Say for example you would like to uninstall VLC Player from your Mac — here’s how you would go about it.
Go to the Applications folder and find the VLC icon. This is the installed program. The first thing you would need to check though is whether or not the program is closed. If you have it running, you can’t uninstall it. So close it first.
Then with your mouse or trackpad, drag the program’s icon from Applications to the Trash. Depending on the user permissions you have set for yourself, you may need to enter a password to proceed with the uninstallation. Once the program has been fully moved to the Trash, empty the trash can. Job done!
“But…what about the Registry?!” you may cry out. That’s the nice thing about Macs. They don’t have a Registry! Instead, the preferences for each program are stored in the Preferences folder in the Library section, which you can find by opening a Finder window and pressing command+shift+g. This opens up the “Go To Folder” box, and then in the box, type
Each program has what is called a PList (Property List), which is a text file, containing your preferences. Since each file takes up a couple of kilobytes (if that), then there isn’t any real point removing them. But you can if you want to, for the sake of neatness.
Kernel extensions are necessary for the operation of your Mac, therefore they should not be removed, unless you absolutely know what you are doing. Kernel Extensions are used by other apps to place settings panels within your OS X System Preferences.
If you feel confident, Kernel extensions are located in
/System/Library/Extensions and have the extension .kext. Drag the files you feel need deleting to the desktop which will make a backup copy, then move the original to the trash. Don’t empty the trash yet – reboot and see if the computer is still running smoothly. If not, restore the file.
To make things slightly more of a hassle, there are also hidden files on the system. These have a period (.) in front of the title, and they can be found by typing into Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
then shut down Finder by typing :
sudo killall Finder
If Finder does not restart by itself, type into Terminal :
You will then find the hidden files in their respective folders. But again, only delete if you know what you are doing. To make these hidden folders hidden once more, run the initial “AppleShowAllFiles” command above except change
Mass-Delete Apps From Mac OS X
Now it may be that you are an impatient soul, who needs to uninstall many programs quickly. No problem. Here are some programs that can help out with that.
AppCleaner is a small application which allows you to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. Simply drop an application onto the AppCleaner window. It will find for the related files and you can delete them by clicking the delete button.
AppDelete Lite ($3.99)
AppDelete Lite will help remove not only Applications but also Widgets, Preference Panes, Plugins, and Screensavers along with their associated files. You can drag any item that can be uninstalled onto AppDelete Lite: Applications, Widgets, Preference Panes, Plugins, Screensavers, etc.
Uninstall Using The Command Line
This is probably where the regular guys and girls (like me) get nervous and start looking for a software solution. Something about the command line just seems to get people agitated, as if coughing on it will be enough to start a nuclear missile launch. Relax — I can happily report that using the command line for uninstalling apps is very easy.
Open up Terminal by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Steady now, don’t hyperventilate.
Type the following:
sudo uninstall file://
Next, drag the app icon from Applications to the Terminal window. All this does is insert the path to the file into the Terminal window, so if you wanted to uninstall VLC player it would look like this :
sudo uninstall file:///Applications/vlc.app
Note the third slash before Applications. This is normal. Hit enter to send the command, insert your password and let Terminal do the work.
It isn’t just Windows computers that come complete with bloatware. Macs have bloatware too. So how easy or difficult is it to free up space on a Mac?
It is not recommended to remove Safari. To completely remove it, you will need to remove files which are needed for the Mac to work properly. Removing it is possible, but very risky. However, if you feel the overwhelming urge to get rid of the browser, this page will help you out.
It is much easier to remove GarageBand if you don’t need it, and it’s a great way to recover a few gigabytes of space. To remove it, navigate to the following folders and delete them. It is strongly recommended to make a (Time Machine) backup first in case disaster strikes.
- Macintosh HD/Applications/GarageBand.app (1.16GB)
- Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/GarageBand (995MB)
- Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/Logic (880MB)
- Macintosh HD/Library/Audio/Apple Loops (up to 10GB)
iMovie & iPhoto
These two can apparently be uninstalled using the drag and drop method, mentioned in the first section. Or for a more thorough uninstalling, use one of the software apps mentioned above, such as Appcleaner.
If you take a bit of extra time and do it properly, uninstalling unwanted apps from your Mac is a pretty simple affair.
Do you know of any other methods which would simplify the process even more?
Image Credit: Computer Freak – Shutterstock