Application Uninstallers

So when I first got my Mac I learned about the ease of uninstalling applications by simply dragging the it out of my application folder and into my trash. Since then I have discovered there are apps that either have included uninstallers or most likely aren’t fully removed as there are now various files strewn throughout your computer. While I don’y have a lot of applications on my computer I do have some that I test out in trial after they come highly recommended by the Mac community that I want to remove but am hesitant because I don’t want unneeded files just lingering on my computer.

What is everyone’s thoughts on removing applications from their Mac. Do you just do the simple drag and drop method or do you employ some sort of uninstaller app? Additionally how good is using Terminal to remove applications at actually ensuring everything is removed. While not 100% confident in using it I have used it enough to try this method if worthwhile.

I don’t think it is a huge problem… You could go through ~/Library once in a while and delete leftovers if you see them, but in general Hazel does a good job on suggesting to delete all the application leftovers when you delete the *.app. There are other similar tools, but I can’t remember the names. Maybe someone can help on that?

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It’s nothing like the mess I rememer on Windows, but things do get left behind.
They only issue I’ve had in my 4-5 years on Mac is actually from iStat Menus. I’ve installed and uninstalled it a few times (seems good, but I don’t really use it). One time I uninstalled it and noticd it still popping up in Activity Monitor. I loaded up CleanMyMac, which asked if I wanted to completely remove 3 apps, including iStatMenus, and the issue went away.

Short version: they’re not critical, but I like running an uninstaller like CleanMyMac.

I think it’s not usually worth worrying about.

If an app really needs an uninstaller for some reason, there’s a good chance that the developer either provides one, or explains how to uninstall it on their website.

For the vast majority of apps, the stuff they leave behind are small text files like preferences. Because there is no behemoth “registry” like Windows, there’s no downside to keeping these around. The amount of disk-space they use is minimal, and they don’t interfere with other apps, so I tend to just delete the app and leave that be it.


If you want something to do generalized cleanup of those files, Hazel has a feature built-in called “App Sweep” (see the “Trash” tab in Hazel’s window).

If you move an app to the trash when Hazel is running (and Hazel should always be running), it will notice, and offer to move related files to the trash as well. If you move the app out of the trash, Hazel will offer to restore the files that it had moved to the trash.

I use that feature pretty much because I’m already using Hazel, and I can either choose yes or no when it asks me if I want to remove the related files. I probably leave them about 50% of the time, unless I’m absolutely sure that I’m never going to use the app ever again.


Personally, I like to use App Uninstaller. At work, I test different software. Simply moving software to trash left preference files in multiple library directories. It ended up leaving a bunch of files I don’t need. Even though those files are small, I prefer to keep things neat.

I have two tools. AppZapper and Hazel. AppZapper does one thing and it does well. Just delete all the files related to a software you want to trash. I prefer to use AppZapper to delete multiple software at once. I go over every 6 months or so to check if I can get rid of anything. It can find and delete things from Software, Widget, System Preference, and Plugins. I believe you can try it for free.

If you have Hazel as most of the listeners of this podcast, it removes all the preference files too. Hazel is a plus because it does more than just delete files. You just need one software to do the job.

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My first 3 applications to install on a fresh Mac are 1Password, App Cleaner, and Alfred. App cleaner makes it ridiculously easy to delete applications completely and it’s free.

+1 for AppCleaner.

Free, simple, and easy to use.

A couple of years ago a comparison test with AppZapper and one or two other similar apps found that AppDelete was best at removing cruft from apps as you delete them. Later I read another shootout in which iTrash beat all the major Mac uninstaller apps.

I’ve used AppDelete for several years, but will probably move on soon, as the developer Reggie Ashcroft died in a car crash in 2017. His friend Hans Tuchel is said to be continuing support of the app but I do not recall any recent updates. Still it works extremely well right now.

I also have installed CleanMyMac X, an excellent utility that has a built-in uninstaller. Dragging an app into the trash can, if you like, cause CMMX to be automatically invoked and give a pop-up offering to scan the system for related, soon-to-be-orphaned files for the app. Seems to work very well, and I use other features in the app on a regular, daily basis.

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CleanMyMac X works well for me. It is a part of the SetApp subscription. Make sure you quit any menu bar apps before trying to uninstall.

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Not positive, but I think this 2016 shootout is the one I remember. AppDelete vs iTrash vs CleanMyMac, and iTrash won (in 2016, at least):

+1 for app cleaner

A couple months in and I want to say AppCleaner has been great. Helped me clean out a lot of junk I no longer needed. While I had a ton of available space on my HDD, its nice to get rid of the dead weight in an efficient manner.

Just stumbled upon this thread, @bowline, and am now curious as to which features in CleanMyMac X you end up using on a daily basis! I use CMM 3, and find it very handy, but don’t need it more than once a month or so and so am intrigued.

I mainly use the menubar part of the app several times a day. It replaces 2-3 menubar utilities I’d previously used.

For one thing I’ll often have dozens of browser windows open at a time which sucks up a lot of RAM, so if I’m about to also open another app that uses RAM, like Lightoom or Ableton Live, and I don’t want to close out the browser I’ll use CleanMyMac to free up RAM. For example right now I have about 40 browser tabs open, in two different browsers, plus a half dozen apps and two dozen menubar utilities, and I have 40Gb RAM installed:

Image on 2020-06-22 10.36.30 AM

Freeing up RAM kills the browser RAM caches (and caches in other apps, and perhaps even the system[?]). It makes some individual pages have to reload but I’m fine with that. After freeing up RAM:

Image on 2020-06-22 10.44.27 AM

(I do know that if I wanted I could employ an extension like this one to ‘suspend’ tabs and automatically free up RAM, but I prefer to suspend the RAM only as-needed, and that extension only frees up RAM from whatever browser it’s installed on.)

I also use it to empty the Trash without having to interact with the trash icon by revealing the dock followed by a press-choose-confirm. And I use it to check the machine’s temp and CPU load as well as the network speed.

I run the CleanMyMacX app itself maybe once a month. Maybe.

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