Here’s how to uninstall drivers on your Mac
If you’ve installed software to work with peripherals or other hardware you no longer use, it may be best to uninstall it to prevent conflicts and free up space on your boot disk. Software like this is known as driver software — or drivers — and in this article, we’ll show you the process for uninstalling drivers on your Mac.
What are drivers on Mac?
Most computer users usually associate drivers with Windows PCs rather than Macs. That’s because macOS doesn’t need driver software for a lot of hardware — ‘it just works.’ One example would be a Wi-Fi chip. Often, Windows PCs use third-party Wi-Fi cards that need drivers in order to work with the PC. Macs, on the other hand, always have Wi-Fi built-in, and the necessary software is integrated into the operating system.
Another example is printers. macOS ships with a technology called AirPrint that allows you to print to a supported printer without the need for drivers. For printers that don’t support AirPrint, macOS can download the necessary drivers in the background.
When you need drivers
However, for lots of other types of hardware, like graphics tablets and game controllers, you may need to download and install software to allow them to run and configure them. And you’ll need to keep the drivers updated to ensure they keep working with new versions of macOS. When hardware manufacturers stop making a device or a version of a device, they will eventually stop updating the drivers, and they’ll become obsolete. Those are the drivers you are most likely to want to uninstall at some point.
Where are drivers installed on a Mac?
Sometimes you need to get rid of the old driver before you install a new one. And you want to make sure that the old one is properly deleted.
The location of the installed software varies. Some hardware will add a pane to System Settings from where you can configure the device. Other hardware puts a utility in the Applications folder that does a similar job. Typically, drivers will also put files in other folders in your user Library folder or the system Library folder. The folders in which they put files may include Application Support, LaunchAgents, and Preferences.
For example, audio drivers are installed in /Library/Audio and ~/Library/Audio.
The number of possible locations for files installed by drivers makes uninstalling them manually a tricky process. You need to check each possible location, look for the files and remove them. Thankfully, there is an easier way.
Search for drivers in Finder
You could start with the Finder’s search bar and type in the name of your device. This should return a few items looking like apps. They are probably drivers.
Some drivers are too tiny to be recognized as an app. How do you find and uninstall them?
How to uninstall drivers the easy way
You can use a popular Mac tool, CleanMyMac X — it has a free version that should help you do the job.
When you open it, it displays all the applications, utilities, and drivers it finds on your Mac and makes it easy for you to choose what to remove. Here’s how to use it.
- Download the free edition of CleanMyMac X.
- Choose the Uninstaller tab in the sidebar.
- Now, inspect the list of apps.
Look closely at all the items in the presented list. It’s likely you will find lots of hidden apps you didn’t know about. If your drivers are among those, choose them and click Uninstall.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do to uninstall drivers with CleanMyMac X. If you have lots of applications on your Mac, you can filter them by developer by clicking in the middle window, or you can use the search box to find the one you’re looking for.
If that doesn’t do the trick, click on the Optimization tab.
Choose the Launch Agents tool.
This is another place to search for drivers.
Select the needed driver and click the big Remove button.
How to uninstall drivers manually
Now, compare the method above with the manual method of uninstalling drivers, and you’ll see how easy it really was.
- In the Finder, click on the Go menu and choose Go to Folder.
- Paste each of these locations into the text box, one at a time:
- After pasting the location in the Go to Folder box, press Return to be taken to the folder.
- In the folder, search for files containing the name of the driver you want to uninstall.
- Drag the driver to the Trash.
- Click on the Spotlight icon in the menu bar and type the name of the driver. Then press Return.
- If it finds anything, drag that to the Trash, too.
- Empty the Trash.
Check for KEXT files
Drivers on Mac have their specific architecture. They may look like apps, but also they can take the form of extensions or kext files.
If you have installed CleanMyMac X, it has an Extensions tool. Some of the drivers can be found there:
In the sidebar, choose Extensions > Preference panes.
Do you have to uninstall old graphics drivers?
There are two main reasons for uninstalling old drivers.
- Resolving conflicts that cause problems on your Mac or preventing possible future conflicts.
- Freeing up space on your Mac’s boot drive.
If you’re not experiencing crashes or applications hanging and you have plenty of space on your boot drive, you could just leave the drivers where they are. The only problem with that might be that they conflict with the software you install in the future, and it might be more difficult at that point to track down the cause of the conflict. This is more likely to happen with obsolete drivers that are no longer updated by their developers. So, while it might not provide an immediate benefit, it’s good practice to uninstall drivers you no longer need.
It’s also good practice to clear out the junk files like old caches, temporary files, and other files you don’t need regularly. CleanMyMac X has a couple of modules that can help with that too. And, as a bonus, you could find that you free up several gigabytes of disk space in the process.
Drivers are the files that allow external hardware to work. Sometimes they include mini-applications or utilities, and sometimes there are panes in System Settings. But in all cases, they include files stored in several different places on your Mac. That means that uninstalling them manually can be time-consuming. However, you should still remove them to avoid possible conflicts with other software and to free up space.