Using Finder to remove Application Bundles and Additional Files
To manually remove an application and all associated files:
- Launch Activity Monitor and change “My Processes” at the top to “All Processes”, then make sure the app you want to remove is not running. If it is, quit the process before proceeding.
- Launch Finder and search for the app name (hopefully unique, such as Skype)
- You can narrow the search to specific folders or search your whole Mac
- Searching “File Name” vs “Contents” usually provides better results.
- Click the + button below the search term to add criteria
- Click the search criteria drop-down and select “Other…”, then “System files”
- Click the “don’t include” and change to “include”
- Sort by name, kind, date, etc. to identify components of the app, such as folders, .plist files, cache files. etc.
- Delete all files and folders related to the app.
- Don’t empty your Trash until you’ve determined that everything is working OK, in case you need to restore something you deleted by accident.
- A reboot might be necessary to completely remove some apps.
Applications with Installers/Uninstallers
If you ran an installer to install an application, you may wish to try running the installation program again to see if an uninstall option is available at any point during installation (many times in a drop-down menu). Check the installation CD or disk image for the original installer file. Some vendors have included simple Perl scripts that will run in the command line to uninstall applications, and may be named “uninstaller.pl”.
Third Party Uninstallers
Be aware that third party uninstallers, including those listed below, do not completely remove all files/folders associated with apps. Many will remove small files, such as .plist files, but leave behind much larger files. For more information, read this. For complete removal of all files/folders associated with uninstalled apps, use Finder and the manual method described above.
Caution is advised when using any automated method of deleting files, as such methods could result in files being deleted that you didn’t want deleted. Many have reported problems caused by the use of apps like CleanMyMac and MacKeeper, so avoidance of these apps altogether may be wise.
Third party uninstallers exist which will search for these preference files for you, such as AppCleaner, AppTrap, AppZapper, CleanApp and TrashMe, but these apps will not remove all components of installed apps.