How to Uninstall Software on a Mac

By Cam Merritt

Removing software applications from a Macintosh computer is much simpler than removing them from a Windows PC. When Windows installs a program, it places bits and pieces of code throughout the registry in a process so complicated that to undo it, each program needs its own uninstaller. By contrast, uninstalling software on a Mac is as simple as finding an icon and dragging it to the trash. That will get rid of the program itself. To completely remove all traces, there are a couple extra steps you can take, though they're not absolutely necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • User account with administrator privileges

Uninstalling Programs

Step 1

Open your hard drive by double-clicking its icon on the desktop. Or, the Finder, hold "Command" and hit "N" to open a new Finder window.

Step 2

Click the "Applications" tab in the navigation pane on the left side of the window.

Step 3

Select the icon of the application you want to uninstall. If the application icon is housed inside a folder--such as Microsoft Office--just click the folder. If it's a single icon--such as Safari--then click that icon. Application icons in the Mac OS are actually a kind of folder, called an "application bundle," holding files necessary to run the program. Thus, to delete the icon is to delete the program and its related files.

Step 4

Drag the folder or icon to the Trash. Until you empty the Trash, you can recover the program simply by dragging it back to the "Applications" folder on the hard drive.

Removing Associated Files

Step 1

From the Finder window, click your user name in the navigation pane on the left side.

Step 2

Double-click the "Library" folder in the directory window.

Step 3

Double-click the "Application Support" folder. This folder holds plug-ins, scripts and other files used by certain programs. The files take up little hard drive space, and there's really no harm in leaving them in place after deleting their related application, but if you want to be thorough, you might as well get rid of the application's support files.

Step 4

Look for a folder with the name of the application you've just uninstalled. Not all applications will store files in the support folder, so don't worry if you don't see one.

Step 5

Click the folder for your application, if there is one, and drag it to the trash.

Step 6

Click your user name again in the left-hand navigation pane.

Step 7

Double-click the "Library" folder again.

Step 8

Double-click the "Preferences" folder. This folder holds your customized settings for each application. As with the "Application Support" folder, the files are small, and they won't cause problems if you neglect to delete them.

Step 9

Look for a file or folder with the name of the application you deleted. The application name may be part of a larger file name. Safari's preferences file, for example, is ""

Step 10

Click the preferences file or folder and drag it to the Trash.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the application you're uninstalling appears in your Dock, simply drag its icon from the Dock onto your desktop. It disappears in a puff of smoke.
  • To view the contents of an application bundle, hold down "Control," then click the application icon. Select "Show Package Contents."
  • If there's a chance you might reinstall the program in the future, consider leaving its preferences file alone. This will allow the reinstalled application to reflect your old personalized settings.