This is how to completely delete apps and any residual data off your Mac

Dragging an icon to the trash is one thing. Deleting every trace of it, is something else.
Screenshot of AppCleaner on MacOS deleting apps.
Using an app to delete programs on a Mac will get rid of all those extra files files that linger. Justin Pot

Windows transplants new to the Mac world might notice something weird: there’s nowhere to go in System Settings if you want to uninstall an app. So how do you do it? By finding the application in the Finder and dragging it to the trash.

No, really—it’s that easy. Open the Finder, head to Applications, and drag any program you don’t want anymore to the Trash icon in your dock. The system may ask you to enter your password or touch the fingerprint scanner, but that’s essentially it—the application is uninstalled. And if you’d rather use your keyboard, just use the shortcut Command + Delete.

That’s all you need to do: It’s one of those things that is so simple it’s complicated for new users. But once you adjust to macOS, it makes perfect sense.

How to completely uninstall apps on macOS 

The above method works well for the vast majority of people, but it has one downside: it leaves a few files behind. 

[Related: 5 tasks you can easily automate using MacOS’ Shortcuts app]

When you use an app you probably change the settings from time to time. Your computer stores those settings and other files related to the software in a location buried in your user folder, called Library. Deleting those, in addition to deleting the app itself, is an easy way to free up storage space.

You could, in theory, open that folder, search for any files related to a given application, and then manually delete them. But it’s easier to opt for a tool like AppCleaner: it’s free, easy to use, and widely recommended among Mac professionals. I’ve used this application for years and never had any problem with it. After installing the software you can drag an app to it or click the icon in the top-right to see a list of applications on your Mac.

Select any item on the list and you’ll see a pop-up menu with the app and all of the files in your Library folder related to it.

To delete them, just click Remove. If you want to bulk uninstall software, you can hold the Command button while clicking application names.

[Related: How to reset glitchy Mac apps]

This is a fast and easy way to bulk uninstall apps on a Mac, and it does a very thorough job. App Cleaner will even add up the total heft of the items you’re deleting so that you know exactly the amount of hard drive space you’re liberating. Unfortunately, even with the help of a tool like AppCleaner, you cannot delete the applications that come built into your Mac. This frustrates many people, who would like to remove the Chess app, for example, or prefer software from other manufacturers, but there’s no real way to do this without turning off security features that are best not messed with.