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The Best Way to Completely Uninstall Mac Apps

The Apple way of deleting applications leaves residue—parts of the installation and other miscellaneous files will remain on your system. 

TL;DR There’s a great free utility that does a better job deleting an Application and all of its traces from your Mac. It’s called App Cleaner from

The Apple default for deleting Mac apps

On deleting Applications: Apple has a specific technote for deleting applications in their fantastic dedication to documentation. They suggest deleting it via Launch Pad (like on iOS) or just putting the Application in the trash.

This method does delete the Application. However, it leaves all the other pieces still installed. This can be a good thing – and it makes sense from a digital hoarder’s point of view. If you ever decide to re-install that Application it in the future, it will try to pick up where it left off. 

Except it’s leaving traces of the application on your System. In many cases, this is mostly harmless. These pieces are smaller, usually under 100 Megabytes. But over time, even that adds up. If you’re deleting an Application, you’re likely done with it. And having those extra pieces of cruft is a waste of space on your SSD.

Want to see some of what’s taking up space? In the Finder, use the Go menu. Choose Library. Everything you’re looking at in this folder/director are hidden reference items (library items, get it?) for your personal User on your Mac. 

This is where all your preferences, caches, autosave information, and many other hidden items are for each Application. There’s an additional separate library for your System – where elements like fonts and serial numbers are stored..

But, just deleting an Application leaves all this cruft. 

Enter App Cleaner

That’s where App Cleaner from FreeMacsoft comes into play. It analyzes the Application and helps you delete all the extra pieces. It does this using the same rules Apple tells a developer to use when creating applications. 

Drag the Applications you want to remove to the App Cleaner window. Alternatively, App Cleaner can list the installed Applications. After a short analysis, it shows you what’s available to delete. No harm yet. Then you can actually say delete it with the Remove button.

An example: I put in an Application (Tomates Lite), and App Cleaner shows all these extra pieces, ready for deletion.

A list of elements that are wasting space. Items from Application Support, Containers, the BOM – Bill of Materials (what was installed where), and even the preferences are now available to be deleted.  If you want, you can uncheck any part of this. 

When you choose “Remove,” you may get asked to put in your password – as some of these elements require higher permission to be moved. 

An oft-repeated warning: Have a complete backup of your system. Please. Ideally, more than just a Time Machine. I’m not responsible if using this gives you problems. Despite the warning, I’ve been using App Cleaner for over a decade.

If you open the preferences inside App Cleaner, you’ll see that it’s already protecting default apps and other apps can be set be protected. It’s also possible to turn on a “Smart Delete” feature that automatically performs this scan if you do a manual delete. And that’s it.


App Cleaner is a better way to delete unused Apps on your Mac. Just drag an Application to its window. It’ll remove the Application and all the tiny parts left on your system. 

This one is part of my must-install apps for every Mac I’ve ever used. As always, feel free to ask questions or reach out here. Hope you found this helpful. 

Jeff Greenberg
the authorJeff Greenberg
Jeff Greenberg is an Editor/Colorist/Consultant in post. An early adopter, he sent his first email in the 80s. He chairs conferences and is a Master Trainer (teaches the “Train the trainer” classes for the major NLEs.) Most of all, he’s a Dad and Filmgeek. And hates being defined by fifty words. Just like you.
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  • I posted this before, but does no show, so I am posting it again:

    It is not “App Cleaner” from FreeMacsoft; it is “AppCleaner”. App Cleaner is other application from other developer. That may lead to confusion.

  • My post did not show, so I am reposting again without links:

    Is such App Cleaner from FreeMacSoft
    better than App Cleaner & Uninstaller from Nektony
    which is also included in MacCleaner Pro? I do not mean cheaper; I mean better. Which is the best Mac uninstaller application of all available?

    • MeX, I honestly don’t know.

      I’ve been using App cleaner for what feels like more than a decade, donated (as it’s donationware). If someone wanted to pay me to do a comparison between different application uninstallers on the mac, I’m happy to do so. What I have here is a well-established tool that’s easy to use, functional and part of my daily kit.

  • Have been using AppCleaner for years and it has never given any problems. An excellent app.

  • Re grading App Cleaner, what’s the catch? How can this be free unless there is some personal data being captured by the App and then sold by the developer. It costs money to develop and distribute apps, so there must be some hidden agenda going on.

    • Fred, I appreciate the cynicism. Nevertheless, as having been around the block, there’s a long-standing set of freeware, shareware, and donationware. This falls into the latter category. He asks for a donation if you find it useful. Sometimes people program utilities for themselves and share them with others.

    • I’m new to macOS but in the ChromeOS, Linux, and Windows world there are outstanding apps that are free for personal use but offer site-wide licensing or support packages for corporate users.

      Bitwarden password manager is one of those that I adore. I’m not affiliated with them, just a satisfied user. I’m going to check out this AppCleaner program to see if it falls in the same category.

      • I hear great things about Bitwarden.

        I’ve been a Lastpass user for probably a decade. What is most important (to me) is that you’re using a password manager! I generally don’t care which password managers users pick – just as long as they use good, secure passwords!

  • I’ve experienced only limited success with AppCleaner.

    It will often report that it cannot delete an app because it is “protected”. The apps I am trying to delete are not from Apple, but ones I have installed myself.

    • Bob, I’d need a little more detail before I could give you any thoughts/advice. App Cleaner definitely asks me about granting permissions. Have you contacted the good people at freemacsoft?