I have a friend who recently switched to Mac (he couldn’t resist the Mac Studio), and one of the things I have helped him with is how you uninstall an app. I use and recommend Appcleaner for this purpose.
Apple have never included an uninstaller with macOS, why really? Just drag an app to the trash is not good enough, since there usually is preference files and such. Is there an official reason for why this is? I mean, a right click on the app with “Uninstall” would be good enough.
There’s no “official” reason. But, Mac apps distributed outside the App Store are capable of reading and writing to anywhere on the device. Therefore, there would be no guarantee they’ve removed all the files associated with an application.
The “just” remove all files already occurs for any app from the App Store
I think the official line really is “just drag an app to the trash” to remove it. The preference files generally don’t do anything, and they are so small it’s not really worth worrying about. There’s no registry, no central database, it’s just a few files in the Library that aren’t touched if the app isn’t there. The Mac’s got a long history, conceived as “the computer for the rest of us”, meaning that simplicity was at the heart of the original design. Apple’s philosophy often boils down to “don’t worry about it, let the system handle things”.
Using app uninstallers on the Mac are akin to force quitting all the apps in the App Switcher on an iPhone. The real question is not why doesn’t the Mac have an uninstaller, it’s why should it?
My experience with installations both on the Mac AND the PC is that once you have installed an app, you will end up with some remains of those installations no matter if you are using MacOS or Windows or if you are using an uninstaller or not. What varies is the extent of how much stuff is being left behind, depending on how you try to get rid of apps.
Even with tools like AppDelete or Hazel’s AppSweep or similar products, I have noticed again and again that there potentially is some “crud” being stored somewhere that is being overlooked. That of course does not harm your Mac or MacOS (at least is should not).
On Windows, a proper deinstallation is a must and also something Microsoft wants you to do if you want to delete an app. But even with those uninstallers, an uninstall does not mean that everything is gone. Sometimes even an App folder remains on the system, even if it is empty after the uninstaller has done its work. And the registry for sure has quite a lot of stuff inside that once was added by an app that already is gone - even after an uninstaller has deleted the particular app in question. This is where those nice registry cleaners (3rd party tools comparable to MacOS counterparts like AppDelete and stuff like that) come into play.
On MacOS, Apple is fine with moving the App to the trash (How to uninstall apps on your Mac - Apple Support). Given my experience with the aforementioned tools, I get why this is their policy because some stuff still will be left behind, even with tools. And like @ibuys already has mentioned, those files do not do any harm.
Be it as it may, I still use Hazel’s AppSweep. Less crud is always better, no matter if this means all crud is being wiped or some of it.
No matter what, the app remnants are one of the reasons why any new PC or Mac is a definite reason for a fresh install for me. But that is a personal preference of mine.
The reason this came up is that one of his apps (Hero Lab) suddenly couldn’t start any longer. So I suggested a reinstall, to start over. However, just deleting the app do not delete the preference file/s, and to explain to another being about the hidden LIbrary folder and preference folder, is quite tedious. Hence the need of an uninstaller.
During my career as an IT consultant I have numerous times needed to delete the preference file because they have been corrupted by some reason, so just saying that a file “takes little space and do no harm” is not correct. And to have a clean system without any unnecessary files would be ideal.
I have thought about this many years. Apple could require the developers to mark their files somehow, and with a simple Uninstall all files marked as belonging to a certain app should be deleted. It could be implemented quite easy actually, so my initial question should maybe be paraphrased as “Why don’t they”?
And I would guess, this is pretty much the reason!
While it is technical possible, to installl apps from outside of the AppStore, it is not the way Apple recommend.
And while Apps from the AppStore could be completely removed by just dragging them to the trash, Apple just did not care of the things you do outside their recommendations. So, if an App you install from an other source does not comply with Apples Recommendations, this is totally your problem, and Apple do not care about that at all.
I see that claim but it makes no sense as they also explain how to use the Uninstall Citrix Workspace App that is supplied with the installer .dmg file that you download. Unless Citrix writes to support files that are embedded in the app’s package file, I don’t see how they would accomplish this.