AppCleaner for Mac: Everything you need to know

I was surprised by how quickly the hard drive on my Macbook filled up. Without even noticing it, I quickly built up gigabytes of junk files I didn’t know what to do with and apps that I had ended up not using. When I started running out of room for my photos and music, I knew I had to do something.

That’s when I decided to try an uninstaller. An uninstaller is a piece of software designed to remove unwanted items from your hard drive completely. A good uninstaller can even identify files that are associated with an unwanted app and dispose of them, too. I decided to try AppCleaner, a straightforward uninstaller app. Here’s how it went.

Easy-to-understand user interfaceNo group selection of apps is available
Free of chargeDoes not provide malware protection
Minimalistic design with an easy-to-use search functionCannot remove some apps that are protected by the system, and system protection cannot be switched off

AppCleaner features

AppCleaner focuses on one thing — getting rid of unwanted apps and files completely. First and foremost, it’s very easy to use, and all you have to do is just find the app you want to get rid of and use the drag-and-drop approach to remove it. Alternatively, you can locate it from the list of app apps that is also available. 

Here’s how a basic AppCleaner cleanup works:

  1. Open the AppCleaner app from the Dock or the Applications folder. You can find it via Spotlight as well. 
  2. Drag the application you want to delete into the AppCleaner window or switch to the list view to select unwanted apps from a list.
  3. Once you’ve selected the unwanted app, select the box next to each file you’d like to remove, then click the “remove” button.
  4. Now, your chosen app is fully deleted!

What’s more: AppCleaner’s features don’t stop there. The “list” feature also lets you review Widgets and Plug-ins, which can take up a significant amount of space on your Mac. You can switch between them by clicking the icon with two arrows when in the list mode. This uninstaller stands out for its thoroughness and flexibility. Because it doesn’t automate much, you get a lot of individual control over which files you’re deleting. 

The app also has tools to help make sure that you delete everything associated with an unwanted app. Its SmartDelete feature can be toggled on and off in the Preferences menu that can be accessed from the menu bar. This handy tool notices when you move an application to the Trash, and AppCleaner automatically detects any files related to that app. Then, it prompts you to delete those files as well. In this way, the deletion is complete.


When using an uninstaller, it’s important to protect the things you do want to keep. If you have applications that you’ll never want to delete, you can tell AppCleaner to ignore them altogether. The software’s Protected Apps list ensures that you won’t delete any crucial apps or files. The list is found in your Preferences tab, and it’s a snap to add and remove applications and their associated files.

What makes AppCleaner Unique?

I found AppCleaner very straightforward and easy to use, making the uninstallation process fast and efficient. Here’s where AppCleaner really stands apart: 

  1. Speed: The drag-and-drop feature made it easy to pull up groups of files and delete them just by pulling the main application file into the AppCleaner window. This definitely beats using the Finder to hunt them down individually.
  2. Control: Rather than deleting all associated files in one stroke, the AppCleaner app lets you individually check files before you remove them. This made the process worry-free — if I wasn’t sure about a file, I could just hang on to it for later. 
  3. Cleanliness: I like a neat desktop, and I like to be able to see what I’m doing. AppCleaner’s compact window lets me keep it open in the background in case I need it without obscuring other windows. Overall, it’s nicely designed and highly responsive. 
  4. Switching between types of apps: as mentioned, AppCleaner can remove three different types of apps. What I liked about the app is that they are not provided in one list, so the user will not be confused. Alternatively, you can switch between them and choose exactly what type of app you want to delete. 

The one drawback I found was that the app was too focused. Its tools all revolve around uninstalling — while there were times when I would have liked to know how much space I had freed up or which apps were taking up too much energy, AppCleaner didn’t tell me. I found myself at times wishing that there had been a wider set of features combined with the uninstaller, which would have made it a more effective tool. 

I like how CleanMyMac X presents the list of apps I have on my Mac and categorizes the files, including apps leftovers, that need to be removed. Find out more about it here.

All apps selected in the Uninstaller module of CMMX

Is AppCleaner safe?

When entrusting your files to an uninstaller, it’s always a good idea to make sure the software is safe and secure. AppCleaner is a fairly small and unobtrusive app and is fundamentally safe to use. However, it is a third-party app that has not been authorized by Apple, which means that it may run into compatibility problems with newer macOS versions. 

A good rule of thumb with third-party apps is to try to find them through the App Store first. If, like AppCleaner, an app isn’t available through the App Store, the best option is to download it directly from the developer’s website. This can help ensure that you get only the app you’re looking for and that other distributors haven’t bundled it with unwanted or harmful software.

You can also make the app more secure by ensuring that you’re constantly using the most updated version. AppCleaner has the option to automatically check for updates and prompts you when new versions become available. It is available from the AppCleaner > Preferences > Updates > Check updates automatically or by clicking Check for Updates from the menu bar. This is a great way to reduce any vulnerabilities that third-party apps like this one might present. 

Did you know?

If you are looking for a versatile cleaning tool, CleanMyMac X can prove useful. It’s fully authorized by Apple, which means it will always remain compatible with any macOS version and future operating systems. Plus, CleanMyMac X can actively scan your Mac for malware and other security threats to uninstall. Try it for free here.

AppCleaner review: The verdict

In the end, AppCleaner is great at what it does. It allows you to uninstall your apps for good and prevent the app-related data from cluttering your Mac. If your aim is to delete programs and apps you haven’t used for a while, AppCleaner is the right choice.

For those who want to get a bigger picture of your Mac’s hard drive’s health, I recommend using CleanMyMac X. It combines an effective uninstaller with a number of other tools that can be used to analyze your Mac. Its Space Lens tool and Optimization tab, for example, can help you choose which files to delete to help your Mac reach maximum performance.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.