Uninstalling Applications in Mac OS X

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Desktop Black.png Macintosh

This page is part of a category. To see more pages like this, go to the Macintosh index.

Basic Instructions

  • 1: Drag the installed program from the Applications folder to the Trash.
    • If you are trying to reinstall or upgrade a program, please continue with the steps 2-4 below.
  • 2: Go to your Home folder > Library > Application Support. Look for folders named after the application. Drag them to the trash.
  • 3: Go to your Home folder > Library > Preferences. Look for files named after the application. Drag them to the trash.
  • 4: Go to your hard drive > Library > Preferences. Look for files named after the application. Drag them to the trash.

Users can also use Spotlight to search for other support files. Type in the name of the application to search.

Advanced Instructions

In Microsoft Windows, programs are installed and uninstalled through the Add and Remove Programs Control Panel. However, uninstalling applications in Mac OS X is very different. Instead, users must drag application bundles to the Trash icon in the task bar. Unfortunately, sometimes there is more to uninstalling than the drag-and-drop process.

To determine if an icon includes an application bundle, press the control key at the same time you click on the application icon. If you see "SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS," then the application is a bundle. The package contains most of the files needed to run the application. So to uninstall these applications, you only have to drag them to the Trash.

But these applications will still leave behind files not stored in application bundles, such as preferences and any required application support files. Preference files can be safely deleted through the user Library Preference folder, but are usually very small files that take up negligible disk space. If you don't delete these files and reinstall the program later, keeping the preference file means you will still have your original settings.

On the other hand, application support files can take up quite a bit of memory, depending on the application installed. Mail and media programs can take up quite a bit of room. These files are located in the Application Support folder, User Library Application Support.

Before deleting any files, the program should not be running. Remove its icon from the dock to be sure. If you get a puff of smoke, it is not running. When you delete an icon from the dock, you do not do anything to the original program. You are just deleting a shortcut to the program.

If you installed an application through an installer (and not a drag-and-drop of file to the Applications folder), you may be able to uninstall using the installer program. This option sometimes appears as a drop-down menu.