6 Ways to Correctly Delete Applications

Have you ever deleted an application from your Mac by simply dragging it to the trash? It turns out there’s more to most applications than what you see in the “Applications” folder. Many apps spread system files all over your hard drive that can be a pain to track down. This means when you simply throw an app in the trash, you’re leaving behind associated content that unnecessarily eats up space on your Mac.

Fortunately, there are several third party solutions that save you the work of hunting down and deleting all these stranded files. Here’s a quick rundown of six of them, let us know which ones you use!




Amnesia is a feature rich solution that uninstalls applications, screen savers, dashboard widgets and preferences panes and their associated system files. It also comes with a built-in backup function that lets you restore any files that you may have deleted accidentally and lets you create a list of “Untouchables” that the application will warn you about before deleting.

Amnesia features a drag and drop interface as well as the option to view all installed applications, widgets, etc. in a list within the application.

Price: $9.95
Developer: Koingosw
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later




AppCleaner is one of the best uninstall solutions out there. Simple drag and drop interface will take care of applications, widgets, plugins, and preferences along with their associated files with a smooth rotating cube animation.

Turning the SmartDelete option on will allow you to simply drag applications to the trash to receive an option to eliminate all associated files. Additional features include built-in lists to sort through your apps, automatic updates, and a customizable protected applications list. Best of all, it’s completely free.

Price: Free
Developer: Free Mac Soft
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later




Though not as refined as AppCleaner, AppDelete is a great utility that effortlessly deletes applications, widgets, plugins, and preferences and any associated files. Drag and drop or select from list, hidden file support, auto detect apps thrown in the trash (if AppDelete is open), history logs, and undo delete.

Price: $5
Developer: Reggie Ashworth
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later




AppTrap seeks to be a seamless solution for deleting apps in OS X. Instead of a standalone application, AppTrap is a preference panel that runs in the background. When you throw away an app, you get a simple dialogue asking if you want to delete the associated system files as well. If you’re looking for full integration and minimal effort, this is your best bet.

Price: Free
Developer: Markus Magnuson
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later




AppZapper “zaps” your applications into oblivion with an easy to use drag and drop interface. After dragging an app to the window, you’ll see a list of associated files. Simply uncheck any you wish to keep and hit the zap button. Additional features include a log of all zapped files and the ability to keep certain apps safe from zapping. The best feature? It plays a (very) cool laser sound effect when you delete an app.

Price: $12.95
Developer: Austin Sarner and Brian Ball
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later



CleanApp 3

CleanApp is by far the most advanced uninstall application I found. As soon as you open CleanApp it begins searching your Mac for applications, preference panes, and archives. It then organizes these files into searchable, categorized lists.

Like the other apps listed above, you can drag and drop an unwanted application into the interface and delete it along with any associated system files. If “logging” is turned on, CleanApp will track any new files created by a given app and include those in the delete menu along with the system files.

DeleteApp has several other options for keeping your Mac clean as well. It can analyze a specified directory for disk usage statistics, identify old files (those that haven’t been used in a while) on your Mac that you might not need, search for bulky cache files, and eliminate unnecessary language files and universal binaries from a specified application.

CleanApp even comes with a handy dashboard widget with similar functionality. Finally, CleanApp gives you the option to archive any deleted apps in case you wish to reinstall them at a later time.

Price: $13
Developer: Synium Software
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later



Extra: CleanMyMac

Not sure how we missed this one the first time around! Take a look at our review.

If you’re suffering from a sluggish Mac or a lack of hard drive space, CleanMyMac is definitely worth looking into. It’s capable of freeing up space through slimming Universal Binaries, removing unnecessary language files, deleting old caches and logs, and various other miscellaneous files.

At the very least, it’s worth downloading the trial to see how much space could be freed up.

Price: $29.95
Developer: MacPaw
Requires: Mac OS 10.4 or later


After briefly using all of the applications listed above, I have two personal favorites. If you like lots of features and don’t mind dropping a few bucks, I recommend CleanApp. It goes way beyond simply deleting apps to an all-in-one way to keep you Mac trim and tidy.

If you’re looking for functional and free, I recommend AppCleaner. It’s a great app that runs smoothly and gets the job done whether you prefer to drag apps into the interface or straight to the trash can.

Two additional applications that you might want to check out are uApp and Yank. uApp is no longer in development and Yank isn’t yet compatible with Leopard. For these reasons I did not include them in the above list.


Add Yours
  • I been reading this blog since the first post. I have learned so much, I just can’t wait to get myself a mac. All of these helpful tips will be very useful in the future to me. Thanks so much guys.

  • HAZEL from http://www.noodlesoft.com/ has a similar function built in. And it does a LOT of other cool stuff with you files. Definitely worth checking out!

  • I’m an AppDelete fan, and it does everything I want it to. Mostly though, I like supporting Reggie, and as a developper myself, I find his approach to building and releasing AppDelete very appealing.

  • I use AppZapper at the office but was unaware of all these other alternatives, and some free ones at that! Thanks.

  • Hazel is a killer

  • Great list, I will take your recommendation. Thanks =)

  • CleanApp’s website was a complete turn off for me. It looks like utter crap. Usually I take the recommendations on this site, but I just can’t bring myself to buy CleanApp (which you said was the best) when their website looks like it was put together by a 12 year old.

    Especially for a company putting out software, and even more so to Mac users, aesthetics and a good website are a big deal. If they ignore that, what else did they ignore?

    • Maybe it’s because they spend more time actually making their products work than worrying about pleasing design nit-pickers like you. Just sayin…

      • You hire a Design & Development firm, you communicate to them your company values. You provide content (much of which is pre-existing or can be written by the firm). You wait a few weeks, and bam; a brand new smashing website that does the product justice. An online presence for a software developer is pretty important wouldn’t you say? An aesthetically pleasing online presence is pretty important for a software developer targeting mac users wouldn’t you say?

        To ignore those 2 points is to ignore the demographic their product is for, which SHOULD make you wonder what else is disregarded.

        I’m not saying it’s a bad product, i’ve never used it, and probably wont because the impression i get is way below par; but if it is infact a good product, they should pay attention to things stated here.

      • I think Shade is used to working with Microsoft products. You can polish crap all you want but bling a good product does not make. I’ll take results over presentation any day.

    • Hello,

      I’m a 12 year old, and am specialized into minimal websites. So, how can you say that 12 year olds can’t make great-looking websites?

  • Any recommendation for an app that can look for files associated with already-deleted apps? I wouldn’t mind removing any preference files (or any other file) associated with a long-deleted application.

    • CleanApp has a feature that looks for “old files” on your Mac. Any files associated with deleted applications should show up in this list after a while without use.

  • I got AppZapper with the MacHeist bundle. I’ve used it a number of times now, and it works great. I’m glad not to build up loads of preference files and whatnot.

  • Gah, I just use AppCleaner, it’s free! What’s there to complain about?

    • The fact that if you try Amnesia you’ll see it will pick up things AppCleaner doesn’t!!

      • Good rebuddle ; )

  • Great list, I’m using AppZapper since a few months and I think it’s amazing.

    Anyway guys, I’m giving away 5 copies of Flux, an app for web designers,on my blog, MacStories.net. Comment to partecipate ;)

  • Amnesia is the best I’ve tried (including AppZapper, AppCleaner, Hazel, AppDelete and others) for finding as many related files as possible.

  • CleanApp 3 is very good and very thorough but it can sometimes pick up files that an app has made changes to but is not part of that app, in other words files that should not be deleted. Be careful when using this feature.

  • AppCleaner is what I have been using. I find it very easy to use. AppZapper is awesome too… but of course AppCleaner is free.

  • I use AppCleaner. Seems to work very well on any applications that don’t come supplied with their own uninstall utility. I had a free license to AppZapper via MacHeist, but read somewhere it is no longer being developed or has not been updated for some time. So it might be safer to use one of the other alternatives rather than pay for AppZapper.

  • definitively AppCleaner! I’ve been using it and I wouldn’t replace it! Good and simple and it does it job! Thanks for the review tho…

  • Cool I will try the AppCleaner ;)

  • I dont want to bother thinking about what to delete, i guess AppTrap is something for me.

  • CheckUp 2.2 also allows you to remove apps: http://www.app4mac.com/checkup.html

  • I used AppZapper until I discovered CleanApp. Hazel costs too much for me, but I still have the limited demo features installed and running.

  • I personally use AppCleaner. I like the interface and it gets rid of everything. :)

  • You forgot about CleanMyMac, the most powerful application remover. It can find all files of any kind of complicated packages and lots of different plugins and additions. I think it is the best choice! http://macpaw.com/cleanmymac

  • I see the ads all the time but haven’t checked out CleanMyMac yet. I’ll take a look.

  • ForkLift also has an application deleter built into so I don’t need a dedicated app for this. http://www.binarynights.com

  • I don’t understand all this. Where’s the praised easy app install/removal of Mac OS X? Why are these “solutions” needed? Doesn’t this mean OS X is not doing as advertised when it comes to uninstall apps?

  • What app do you recommend for removing these apps?

  • It’s completely absurd that one of these isn’t included in the Mac OS package.

    • Completely absurd really? Do u wanna hunt Steve Jobs and Scot Woz down? You reaction was a little much, it’s not completely absurd MAC does a SPECTACULAR job of trashing apps this, is for the MAC Power User (i.e. Audio Engineers, Film Makers, Programmers etc.) The normal consumer would NOT need this. But it’s ok bc ur reaction was no where near as ignorant [if at all] As Mr./Mrs. Aleve Sicofante a cpl comments up. Cuz like I just told you drag to trash works fine and its intended focus is towards the normal user who doesn’t even tap into a quarter of their Macs full storage capacity let alone any things things like cache.

  • Hey what a handy list. I usually do just drag things to the trash, so I suppose I should be nicer to my OS X!! Thanks!

  • How do all these compared to Forklift’s built-in app removal?

  • I second the use of Hazel. Much better, and keeps my Mac nice and tidy!

  • …and also the Forklift make this right.

  • Still using AppZapper. I think it’s enough for cleaning. :)

  • I’ve used AppTrap for a few months now, and I’ve taken notice that it pretty much only searches a few folders for associated files. I deleted Adium when something went screwy, and I had to go back through and delete the other associated files that were in App Support before I could re-install cleanly. I’ll have to look into these other apps and find one that will find everything.

  • Have you ever had an app call home after you have trashed it? Wonder what I missed. Now I use app cleaner and find I’m amazed at all the stuff that can bee spread over your computer.

  • Thanks for the great advice. Installed AppDelete on wife’s macbook, will install CleanApp on my pro. Recently heard about MacKeeper but don’t know anything about it.

    • a $5 app for the wife and a $13 one for you? shouldn’t that be the other way around? :D

  • I use TrashMe, best of the bunch, and sadly missing in your review.


  • I see many people are writing about the appcleaner so i gave it a try and so far i LOVE it! :) thank u all!

  • Updated prices from highest to lowest as of January8th, 2012:

    CleanMyMac: $29.95 USD for Lifetime License
    Amnesia: $19.95 USD
    CleanApp: $15 USD
    AppZapper: $12.95 USD
    AppDelete: $7.99 USD
    AppCleaner: Free
    AppTrap: Free

    You may also want to update some of the links on this article. A few are outdated.

  • very helpful, thank you. i’ve moved over from pc to mac and this is one of the areas i find lacking but still not in a rush to go back : )

  • extremely excellent put up, i in fact enjoy this internet site, maintain on it

  • I realy need help I installed stockmeter.app and when I move it to the trash it says it is open and to close it but I have no idea how to close it or shut it down ??
    Thanks or any help

  • Reading this write-up – the gift of one’s time

  • I chose AppCleaner. Two minutes after I installed it I had deleted a program I’ve been trying to get rid of for the past several days. How slick is that?