AppCleaner – App of the Week [Mac]

Appcleaner full

If you come from the Windows world, uninstalling apps on a Mac might seem a bit odd to you. Unlike in Windows, where you go through a whole uninstall process, on a Mac there are no such hoops to jump through. To uninstall a Mac app, you simply highlight it in your application folder, and trash it. The problem, though, is that many Mac apps leave behind preference files and other breadcrumbs, even after you delete them. To remove all traces of an app from your Mac, delete it using AppCleaner.

The simplest way to use AppCleaner is to drag an app from your application folder onto AppCleaner’s main window. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be presented with a list of additional files related to the app, and given the option to delete them. If you’d prefer to work solely from within the app, you can do so. The app lists the applications, widgets, and other types of programs on your machine. Chose the program you want to delete from its respective list, click the Search button, and then you can choose to delete the files. Pretty simple stuff.

How do you delete files on your Mac?


Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. I’ll admit that I leave the breadcrumbs in place when I delete an app. That way, if I later decide to reinstall, the preferences are in place.

    A new Mac is currently being FedExed to me (currently sitting in a cold warehouse in Anchorage), so I’ll be running Lion very soon.

    • Oooohhhh, new Mac. Very exciting. What are you getting?

      • Getting a Mini, upgraded to 4 GB of RAM. I’ve love one of the higher end machines, but they are hard on the wallet :)

        The business is buying the old Mini (4.5 years old). It’s been operating of a 9+ year old Mac … while still functional, it can be slow at some tasks.

        The new Mac is about 30 miles from the house at the moment :)

      • Nice! I remember the excitement when my Mac was on the way. Looking back, it was silly to fret over a few hours or a day, but at the time it couldn’t get here fast enough.

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  3. AppZapper, AppCleaner, CleanApp, TrashMe, and similar apps do not do a thorough job of removing all files/folders related to deleted apps. I tested several of these, using Skype as the app to be removed. Of 17 items to be removed:

    AppZapper missed 13 items
    AppCleaner missed 11 items
    AppDelete missed 8 items
    Hazel missed 9 items

    I also tested AppTrap, CleanMyMac and a few others and they all left files/folders behind. In most cases, they remove .plist files and a few others, but leave behind much larger files and folders. Even apps with uninstallers leave things behind.

    The most effective method of fully removing all files/folders related to an app is here:

    • Thanks for the report. It’s a shame that OSX doesn’t have something built in. I guess at some point there’s a balance between thoroughness and ease of use that each user will need to weigh.

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