Best uninstaller app for Mac

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,428
796
I do not recommend AppZapper, AppCleaner, AppDelete or any other uninstaller app. No cleaner or app removal software does a thorough job of finding and removing files/folders related to deleted apps. Most will remove smaller files, such as plists, but leave behind caches, which are much larger. For more information, read this and this. If you just want to delete the app, drag the .app file to the trash. No other software needed. If you want to completely remove all associated files/folders, no removal apps will do a thorough job.
The most effective method for complete app removal is manual deletion:
 
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superscape

macrumors 6502a
Feb 12, 2008
930
218
East Riding of Yorkshire, UK
Personally, I wouldn't use one.

If the app came with an uninstaller then use that. However, just dragging the app from the /Applications folder to the trash is usually good enough.

There may be some associated gubbins in ~/Library but personally, I tend to leave it an just have a clear out once in a while when I've nothing better to do.

I don't personally see the need for an app to do that.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,456
10,263
California
I and most here use AppCleaner. No frills.
AppCleaner has worked well for me, but if the vendor offers an uninstaller, use it before trying any third party uninstaller.
Based on some recommendations earlier, I also have started using AppCleaner and in my testing so far it has not missed anything the manual method mentioned in post #4 removed. It appears the app is just automating the search process described in that post.
 

karatekidk

macrumors regular
Nov 30, 2008
192
32
Pacific Northwest, USA
Glad I ran into this thread. Sorry, in advance, for asking this stupid question. To me, "uninstalling" means just throwing an application folder into the garbage bin and empty the bin. It's not enough?
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,456
10,263
California
Glad I ran into this thread. Sorry, in advance, for asking this stupid question. To me, "uninstalling" means just throwing an application folder into the garbage bin and empty the bin. It's not enough?
Not really... no. There are almost always some settings and cache files and folders left behind. For example, here is what I get by using AppCleaner on the app Skitch.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 9.01.43 AM.png
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,536
25,262
Based on some recommendations earlier, I also have started using AppCleaner and in my testing so far it has not missed anything the manual method mentioned in post #4 removed. It appears the app is just automating the search process described in that post.
Agreed, it's just easier. Manual will take some time.

AppCleaner also has a feature where if you delete an item or throw it into the Trash, it will then automatically prompt to also remove associated files. It's a good little app in my opinion.
 
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TokMok3

macrumors 6502a
Aug 22, 2015
626
399
Personally, I wouldn't use one.

If the app came with an uninstaller then use that. However, just dragging the app from the /Applications folder to the trash is usually good enough.

There may be some associated gubbins in ~/Library but personally, I tend to leave it an just have a clear out once in a while when I've nothing better to do.

I don't personally see the need for an app to do that.

A few months ago I downloaded from the Mac App Store an app for checking the SHA1- checksum of files downloaded from internet, after checking the checksum, that app tried to communicate to an IP address without success because Little Snitch detected and I was able to block it. In this kind of situations after deleting the app I want to make sure that it was completely erased from my MacBook.
 

Feek

macrumors regular
Nov 9, 2009
165
86
Not really... no. There are almost always some settings and cache files and folders left behind. For example, here is what I get by using AppCleaner on the app Skitch.

View attachment 780855
Which is perfectly true but on a Mac, those caches and settings files left behind generally aren't actually doing anything except eating up disk space once the actual app itself has been removed.

I use AppDelete which does the same as AppCleaner.
 
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Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,456
10,263
California
Which is perfectly true but on a Mac, those caches and settings files left behind generally aren't actually doing anything except eating up disk space once the actual app itself has been removed.
I think that is mostly true, but over time it can add up to real disk space. I just feel better getting it all removed.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,319
630
No cleaner or app removal software does a thorough job of finding and removing files/folders related to deleted apps. Most will remove smaller files, such as plists, but leave behind caches,
I am not in a position to dispute whether or not Appcleaner gets all files, but it does get some caches. I just ran it with Adobe lightroom and it found 24 files/locations to delete, 3 of these were cache folders. But it did not find the ~49 GB camera raw cache.

Making a totally inaccurate estimate of total number of files that app cleaner would remove (24 x # of my installed apps) it would be over 6000 files. If you don't do a clean install when doing upgrades, even assuming a much lower # files per app, you are talking hundreds if not thousands of leftover files if you just delete the app from applications.

For more information, read this and this.
I'm not sure that 5 and 8 year old posts are still relevant.

My take on it then would be use the applications uninstaller if it is provided. Appcleaner does a reasonable job if that isn't available.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,428
796
I'm not sure that 5 and 8 year old posts are still relevant.

My take on it then would be use the applications uninstaller if it is provided. Appcleaner does a reasonable job if that isn't available.
The post is still quite relevant, since the method of uninstalling apps remains the same, and uninstaller apps like AppCleaner are still not effective in removing all associated files, as your post illustrates.
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
6,078
511
Milwaukee, WI
If you don't do a clean install when doing upgrades, even assuming a much lower # files per app, you are talking hundreds if not thousands of leftover files if you just delete the app from applications.
Without re-reading the "old" posts, I'm quite confident in stating that I'm sure the above is not what was suggested. Manual deletion involves more than that one act.
 

steve23094

macrumors 68030
Apr 23, 2013
2,709
1,489
I currently use iTrash as a cleaner, although I'm thinking of changing as it has an annoying bug I reported to the developer and they seem unable to fix it.

But I wanted to post about an app I stumbled across in case it benefits somebody else.

When booting up Mojave recently I got a warning about a startup item not being compatible with future versions of macOS. It was from an app I stopped using and uninstalled a long time ago. The app wasn't listed in the Login items in the Users & Groups section of System Preferences. So obviously it was being loaded at a lower level.

I found an app that could clean out this crud, it's called Lingon and available here: https://www.peterborgapps.com/lingon/

It's not a free app and I believe you can delete this stuff manually yourself. But I figured an app is a good choice for a luddite like me. It makes it simple and there is less chance of a mistake.
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
6,078
511
Milwaukee, WI
@HDFan, you've taken what was written out of context. It matters where "just" is in the sentence.

If you just want to delete the app, drag the .app file to the trash. No other software needed. If you want to completely remove all associated files/folders, no removal apps will do a thorough job.
The most effective method for complete app removal is manual deletion:
Best way to FULLY DELETE a program
It is not being suggested to just drag the app to the Trash. It depends on what you want the end result to be.
 

HDFan

macrumors 68020
Jun 30, 2007
2,319
630
@HDFan, you've taken what was written out of context. It matters where "just" is in the sentence.

It is not being suggested to just drag the app to the Trash. It depends on what you want the end result to be.


It's a matter of symantics. If it had read "to delete just the application executable drag the .app file to the trash. .... If you also want to remove all associated files ..." I would not have commented.

My definition of deleting an application is that after removal no trace of that app (i.e., no associated files such as preferences, etc.) remains. But your definition may be different.
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
6,078
511
Milwaukee, WI


It's a matter of symantics. If it had read "to delete just the application executable drag the .app file to the trash. .... If you also want to remove all associated files ..." I would not have commented.

My definition of deleting an application is that after removal no trace of that app (i.e., no associated files such as preferences, etc.) remains. But your definition may be different.
No, and Yes. :)
 
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