How to Uninstall Software on a Mac

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.

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Uninstalling Programs

Step

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

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

Step

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

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

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

Step

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

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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

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.

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

Step

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

Step

Double-click the "Library" folder again.

Step

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

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 "com.apple.safari.plist."

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