How To Uninstall Programs on Mac Properly

Uninstall Mac AppsTheoretically uninstalling on a Mac is as easy as finding the application, dragging it to the thrash can and you’re done. But applications usually store more information elsewhere on the hard drive, most notably they store some preferences and they can also store support files in the library folder. To completely delete a program from your Mac you have to find these files and remove them.

Look for Left Over Files

The first place you have to look for leftover files after you uninstalled the program is the Library folder contained in your user folder. Here, the files you are looking for will most likely be in the Application Support folder. After you spot the files you drag them to the thrash can as well. Now we have to do the same for the Library folder on the system level and also check the Application Support folder of other users that may be using the machine.

Remove Program Preferences

Next, in the user Library folder, we will find a Preferences folder. Here we are going to find only files that retained small amounts of information like the positioning you liked for your windows or what the options for the program were, so chances are you probably skipped this step if all you were after was freeing up some hard drive space.

Now look for files with names that somehow match the application you deleted and remove them also. However, some applications go beyond this and create folders containing many files so you want to search for these also and remove them completely. If you created an alias to the application anywhere you want to get rid of that as well. You can do a search for the application and it will usually come up with any other aliases or maybe some extra file somewhere that you didn’t find.

You can also use spotlight to search for documents created by the application. If it was a standard type of application like a word processor you probably wouldn’t want to get rid of your documents but if it was a very specific type of application like a game that created a certain type of files you might want to search for that type of game files.

You might find that you have some in your documents folder that you no longer want around so you can delete those as well. If you don’t want to go through all this trouble yourself there are many freeware applications that will allow you to do this very quickly and easy.

This guest post is by David Ritchie. David is a technical writer with over a decade of professional experience. He is currently interested in speeding up Mac OS X solutions.

This post was published by on June 26, 2011

About the Author: Thilak Rao works as a Social Media Expert. He is one of the first professional bloggers from India, and he loves to write, travel and click photos. Follow him on Twitter @thilak

  • Zim Wells

    AppZapper does a good job of stripping stuff out of the system and doing a “proper” uninstall. It’s not free, but from memory it’s fairly inexpensive. Some apps leave a mountain of junk in the ~/Library/Application Support/ folder which is pretty annoying.

  • Thilak Rao


  • Techmug

    I think no one can recover deleted files in MAC
    What you think?

  • Thilak Rao

    I haven’t been in a situation where I had to undelete any file on my Macbook Pro. I don’t clean my trash every now and then like how most people do. Perhaps, that’s the reason.
    Just for my information, what do you use to undelete files on your OS X?