Here’s how to uninstall the Mail app on your Mac

There are lots of email clients available for the Mac, and if you use a third-party app such as Outlook, Spark, or Edison, you may have decided you don’t need Apple’s Mail app on your Mac and that you want to uninstall it. The good news is that you can delete the Mail app. The bad news is that because it comes pre-installed when you buy a Mac or upgrade the OS, it’s protected by the system. That means you can’t remove it as you would a regular third-party app and have to go through a few extra steps. We’ll show you how to do that in this article.

Why uninstall the Mail app on your Mac?

The reason most people want to disable the Mail app or remove it is because of the storage space it takes up. If you’ve used the Storage tab in About this Mac (Apple menu > About this Mac > Storage) to manage storage, you may have noticed Mail taking up several gigabytes of precious SSD storage.

However, a big chunk of that space is probably occupied by attachments that have been downloaded. And if you get rid of those attachments, you may find that you don’t have to uninstall Mail after all. Don’t worry about deleting attachments you later need; they remain on the server, and you can re-download them at any time.

While you can delete attachments manually, it’s a laborious process. The easiest way to do it is to use a specialist tool, such as CleanMyMac X. CleanMyMac X has a module that scans your Mac and identifies mail attachments in Mail and other email clients on your computer. As well as PDFs, images, and documents that are sent as regular attachments, it also identifies things like company logos embedded in signatures or the body of a message. You can then delete all attachments with a click or review the results and choose which to delete. Download it for free here.

How to clear Mail attachments with CMM

How to uninstall the Mail app on your Mac: disable SIP

As we said in the introduction, Mail is protected. The part of macOS that provides that protection is called System Integrity Protection (SIP). To uninstall Mail, we first need to disable SIP temporarily. And to do that, we need to restart in Recovery mode.

How to restart an Intel Mac in Recovery mode

  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Press the power button and hold Command and R.
  • Wait for a spinning globe or Apple logo to appear and release Command-R.
  • You should eventually see the macOS Utilities window.

How to restart an Apple ‘M1’ Mac in Recovery mode

  • Shut down your Mac.
  • Press and hold the power button.
  • Keep holding the power button until you see ‘Loading startup options.’
  • Click Options, then press Continue.
  • Type in your admin password.

Once your Mac has started up in Recovery mode, move the mouse pointer to the top of the screen so you can see the menu bar.

Mac Terminal window
  1. Click the Utilities menu and choose Terminal.
  2. Type the following command: csrutil disable
  3. Press Return.
  4. Restart your Mac as usual.

SIP is now disabled and you can go ahead and uninstall Mail. To do that, we need to use Terminal again.

  • Go to Applications > Utilities and launch Terminal.
  • Type: cd/Applications/
  • Press Return.
  • Type: sudo rm –rf
  • Press Return.
  • Quit Terminal.

The Mail app has now been removed from your Mac. There is one more step, however. We need to re-enable SIP. To do that, do the following:

  1. Shutdown your Mac.
  2. Start up in Recovery mode using the instructions above.
  3. Choose Terminal from the Utilities menu.
  4. Type: csrutil enable
  5. Press Return.
  6. Restart your Mac normally.

How to keep Mail but save storage space

If you want to free up storage on your Mac but don’t want to delete Mail, there are a few other things you can do besides using CleanMyMac X to delete attachments.

1. Change junk and delete message settings.

    You can specify in Preferences if and when Mail gets rid of messages you delete in the app or label as junk. If you set it to remove these messages quickly, say within a week, that should free up space.

    Mail accounts tab

    Go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts and click on an account. Choose Mailbox Behaviors. Click on the menu beneath ‘Erase junk messages:’ and choose an option. Do the same with the menu beneath ‘Erase deleted messages.’

    2. Prevent Mail from downloading attachments

    Mail attachment downloading settings

    By default, Mail downloads attachments when it retrieves a message from the server. These attachments are stored on your Mac. However, you can tell Mail to leave the attachment on the server, and you can then choose when to download it.

    In Mail Preferences > Accounts, choose Account Information. Set ‘Download attachments’ to None.

    3. Disable the Mail app

    If you use another email client and never want to use Mail, removing accounts will stop it from retrieving messages from the server.

    Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences, then Internet accounts. Locate the accounts you currently use in Mail, select them one at a time, and uncheck 'Mail.'

    How to reinstall the Mail app

    Once you’ve deleted the Mail app, there’s no easy way to reinstall it. You would have to restart your Mac in Recovery mode (Hold Command-R when you start up your Mac). You would then have to choose the option to reinstall macOS. You should back up your Mac before you do this, as it will wipe all your data.

    How to reset the Mail app

    If Mail is causing problems there is one thing you can try instead of deleting it – reset it using CleanMyMac X.

    How to reset Mail app with CMM
    1. Launch CleanMyMac X
    2. Click the CleanMyMac X menu and choose Preferences.
    3. Select the Ignore List tab > Uninstaller.
    4. Uncheck the box ‘Ignore system applications.’
    5. Select the Uninstaller module in CleanMyMac X.
    6. Locate Mail in the list of apps.
    7. Right-click on Mail and choose ‘Select “Mail” for Reset.’

    Mail will now be reset and restored to its original state.

    Mail is protected by SIP because it's a core app in macOS. You can delete it by temporarily disabling SIP and using Terminal to remove Mail. To do that, follow the instructions above. However, if your reason for deleting Mail is to free up the space it uses, there are several other, much less drastic options. You may want to try those first. By getting rid of attachments and making sure junk and deleted messages are removed quickly, you could free up several gigabytes of disk space.

    Laptop with CleanMyMac
    CleanMyMac X

    Your Mac. As good as new.