How to Do What the Mac App Store Doesn’t: Uninstall Apps


So you’ve just installed tons of apps from the Mac App Store, but now you realize you don’t really need that fifth Twitter client. How to uninstall it? Unlike Windows, OS X doesn’t have a “Remove Programs” tool, but the answer is actually simpler than that.

All you have to do is navigate to [Your User Name]/Applications, locate the app you want to remove, and drag it to the Trash icon on your dock. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+Delete. Since Mac applications are all packed into bundles (that’s the icon you drag to the Trash) just deleting the bundle removes the app.

However, there is one catch. A lot of apps leave behind external files, such as preference files, dotted around your system, which don’t get deleted when you send the application bundle to the Trash. You could hunt around and manually delete those files, but it would be very time-consuming and there’s no guarantee you’ll find every one. Luckily, there are some third-party apps that will handle this for you.

AppZapper is one of those apps. When you want to uninstall another app, fire up AppZapper. Instead of dragging the application to the Trash, drag it to the AppZapper window. AppZapper looks through your hard drives for any files related to the app you’re deleting. It presents you with a list, and you can uncheck any items you’re not sure you want to delete before finalizing the process. All files are sent to your Trash bin, too, so if you have second thoughts you can also recover them there.

Version 2.0 of AppZapper introduced a new feature called Hit List which lets you see all your installed apps, and filter them according to when you last used them and how much space they’re taking up on your drive. It’s a great addition for those who’ve neglected their Applications folder for a while and aren’t sure where to start cleaning up.

AppZapper isn’t the only ‘uninstaller’ for the Mac. There are others, such as AppDelete. Whichever you choose, it’s a good idea to use one to make sure your Mac is clear of potential ‘bloat’ left behind from apps you don’t even have any more.

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