How to Completely Uninstall Applications on MacBook (Ultimate Solution)

Uninstalling an app on a Mac OS may seem elementary – move an app from the Applications folder to the Trash, clear the Trash, and then forget about it. But traces and remnants of the uninstalled app can still hang around out of sight, out of mind in several recesses of your Mac.

While these residual files are generally harmless (assuming that the app is a legitimate and trusted software), getting rid of residual files can prove useful if you are:

  • Needing more space on your MacBook. If you amass a substantial amount of leftover files, it could contribute to a scantiness of disk space on your Mac.
  • Trying to remedy a corrupt installation. Deleting all files and components associated with an aberrant app can give you a fresh start.
  • Bidding an application goodbye forever. Some applications can leave extensions and files on your MacBook for marketing purposes, to remind you that your business would still be welcome should you change your mind.

Where do these Residual Files Usually Dwell?

It can vary for each application but these are the common locations that you’d probably have to scour after uninstalling an app:

  • /Library
  • /Library/Application Support
  • /Library/LaunchAgents
  • /Library/LaunchDaemons
  • /Library/Preferences
  • /Library/PreferencePanes
  • /Library/StartupItems
  • ~/Library/
  • ~/Library/Application Support
  • ~/Library/LaunchAgents
  • ~/Library/Preferences
  • ~/Library/PreferencePanes
  • ~/Library/StartupItems

And that may not be all. Applications that are not sandboxed, those that need to operate in your Mac at a system-level like third-party security tools (antivirus, VPN clients, firewalls, etc.), do not play by the same rules as apps from the App Store when it comes to storing files.

MacOS dictates the areas that sandboxed or App Store applications can access to mitigate the risk of them causing harm to your Mac. Unsandboxed applications, however, need to have more freedom than that so that they can augment the native capabilities of your Mac.

They can, therefore, store files in locations different from the usual storage spots of sandboxed applications and some of the files are hidden to prevent accidental deletion. This can make finding and deleting residual files more difficult.

So How To Completely Uninstall an Application on MacBook Pro or Air?

If you are unfazed by the arduous task that lies ahead, you can do it manually. But if you want to give your Mac a rigorous cleaning the easy way, you can employ a cleaning utility such as CleanmyMac X to get the job done.

Before you begin any of these, make sure you back up anything of importance and then exit the application you wish to uninstall.

Method 1: Manually uninstall the app and delete its preferences and supporting files.

  1. Click on Finderand select Application.
  2. Look for the app you want to uninstall and then move or drag it to the Trash.
  3. You will now need to access the Library folder to look for the preferences file and other supporting files. By default, the Library folder is hidden and with good reason.

Deleting files from the Library requires an understanding of the files/folder directory system. Getting rid of the wrong ones can spell trouble, so caution has to be exercised in removing only the files related to the uninstalled app.

To access the Library folder, click on the Go button in the menu bar and select Go to Folder. Type in ~/Library and then click Go.

Alternatively, you can individually copy and paste the paths we specified in the previous section into the Go to Folder window.

  1. Look for items/files named similarly to the application you just uninstalled and move them to the Trash.

In the Application Support folder, for example, you will find a folder that matches the name of the uninstalled app or it could also say, “com.<application name>”.

Another example would be the app’s preferences file which is stored in ~/Library/Preferences and its name format would be “com.<application name>.plist”.

  1. Empty the Trash.

Method 2: Uninstall the app using its dedicated uninstaller.

Some applications have their own uninstaller which is either already built into the app or is downloadable from the developer’s site. A Google search would tell you if there’s one available. Once you’ve downloaded it, just do the following:

  1. Launch the Finderand click on Application on the left-hand side menu.
  2. Open the app’s uninstaller application.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to uninstall the app.

If it offers you the option to delete all files associated with the app, go ahead and select that. You may have to manually delete remnant files just like in the first method if it does not give you that choice.

Method 3: Uninstall the application with CleanMyMac X.

If removing the leftovers yourself sounds a bit risky, not to mention taxing, CleanMyMac X can perform a safe and clean sweep of these files for you.

  1. Launch CleanMyMac X.
  2. Click on Uninstalleron the left-hand panel.
  3. Select All Applications.
  4. Tick the apps that you’d want to uninstall.
  5. Hit the Uninstall

And that’s it. CleanMyMac X will spare you from the intricacies of dealing with leftovers.

If you’re planning to uninstall an app because it’s been misbehaving, it would be news to you that CleanMyMac X offers the ability for you to reset the app to its default state by deleting the app cache. With that, you can keep your user data and you don’t have to start from scratch.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Open CleanMyMac X and navigate to Uninstaller.
  2. Select the app you wish to reset.
  3. Click the box next to it and choose Reset
  4. Hit the Reset

Final Words

There are other ways to completely remove apps in a MacBook such as performing a manual terminal uninstall and none of them are easier than the methods that we discussed.

Manually deleting files that were once tied to the uninstalled app would be perfect for anyone who has adequate knowledge and time. If you want to remove an application from your Mac six ways from Sunday, utilizing CleanMyMac X would be a good direction to head to.