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How to uninstall apps on macOS as Apple recommends

When switching from Windows to macOS, one of the recurring questions is How are installed applications uninstalled? The doubt emanates from an option that Microsoft's system has but not Apple's, such as the option to 'Uninstall' from 'Settings', or the old 'Add or remove programs'.

Today we are going to review the different ways that exist to uninstall applications in macOS Big Sur, although it is fully applicable to older systems. Before continuing, of course, we must point out that we will talk about uninstalling applications that do not come with an uninstaller, because, in that case, it is appropriate to use them. Adobe, for example, copies an uninstaller when installing its package, but Office currently does not. We will see the case applicable to the Microsoft suite.

How to uninstall applications installed from the App Store


On a dedicated website, Apple is very clear: "To uninstall apps that you have downloaded from the App Store, use Launchpad." Launchpad is that grid menu where the system adds the applications that we are installing. And in it, uninstalling the applications can be a confusing process, because at first glance the option to uninstall is not offered.

Pixelmator Pro

In that sense, it must be said that works the same as uninstalling iOS apps on an iPhone: if we long click on an app icon, the icons will start to move. Those applications installed from the App Store will show a cross icon (X) which is on which we have to click to uninstall the application. In doing so we will see this in the image below. And that's it.

Pixelmator Uninstall

How to uninstall apps installed outside of the App Store


Official instructions from Apple to uninstall applications without an uninstaller.

Before the arrival of the Mac App Store, the most normal thing when installing applications was to copy the executable file to the 'Applications' folder of the system. This is how today, for example, VLC is installed. Another common way was to install via installation packages (usually in .pkg format). This other way is the one used to install Chrome, Edge or Office.

In this case, Apple recommends that, if the applications do not have an uninstaller, as is the case with all those mentioned, the process to follow is to drag the executable to the trash from the 'Applications' folder. With Office, Microsoft recommends the same, manually dragging applications to the trash.

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However, and here comes the problem, With this procedure that Apple advises, many of the Library files that the applications copy for their operation will not be eliminated.. In addition to taking up some space, these files make system folders dirty, which can lead to malfunctions in the long run. Therefore, in this case, our recommendation is to use applications dedicated to uninstallation. Our favorite, for its simplicity and free is AppCleaner, which is updated to Big Sur.

Uninstall macos apps

Its operation after installing it is as straightforward as selecting the application to uninstall from the list, or drag it to your drawer from the Applications folder, and click on 'Delete'. Previously, we can have to choose which files we want to eliminate from said application beyond its executable.