How to use Mac free app “AppCleaner”

AppCleanerアプリアイコン
Updated : Nov 27, 2021

I will explain in detail the features, installation, and usage of the Mac application deletion application “AppCleaner” using illustrations.

In addition, I will explain the comparison with competing apps and what to do if you can not remove them with AppCleaner.

What kind of app is AppCleaner?

Overview

AppCleaner is the app for Mac with the following features.

  • It is the application dedicated to deleting apps on Mac.
  • You can remove not only the app itself but also related files such as configuration files.
  • You can also protect apps you don’t want to remove.
  • It’s free.

Reputation

As of November 2021, AppCleaner has become a de facto standard app for deleting apps on Mac.

The following are possible reasons why it has become a staple.

  • It has a history of more than 10 years and is highly reliable.
  • Easy to use with simple operation.
  • It’s free.

For using the app safely

Searching AppCleaner online may lead you to download from multiple app introduction sites, but they are not recommended.

This is because, although it is not limited to this AppCleaner, it is a general theory, but until a few years ago, when downloading from the application introduction sites, there were times when unnecessary application installation was requested or a virus was embedded.

For security reasons, the app should be downloaded via the official website or Apple’s App Store.

On the other hand, I have never heard of any cases of AppCleaner published on the official website being infected with a virus or spyware.

The official website of AppCleaner is at the following address.

AppCleaner

OS compatibility

As of November 2021, the following OS is supported.

macOS versionAppCleaner version
・12 Monterey
・11 Big Sur
・10.15 Catalina
・10.14 Mojave
・10.13 High Sierra
3.6
・10.12 Sierra
・10.11 El Capitan
・10.10 Yosemite
3.4
・10.9 Mavericks
・10.8 Mountain Lion
・10.7 Lion
・10.6 Snow Leopard
2.3

Roughly speaking, it is compatible with Intel Macs after 10.6 Snow Leopard and Arm Macs after 11 Big Sur (M1 Mac, etc.).

However, the required AppCleaner version depends on the macOS version.

If you install the wrong version of AppCleaner, it seems to work fine at first glance, but there will be problems such as being able to remove apps that should not be removed (Safari, iTunes, etc.), so be sure to do so. Please install the corresponding version of AppCleaner.

If you remove an app that shouldn’t be removed, your Mac won’t start or behave strangely, and you’ll need to reinstall macOS.

Multilingual

Version 2.3 supports multilingual display, but 3.4 or later does not support it and only English display is available.


【Version 3.6 / 3.4】

AppCleanerバージョン3.6と3.4の起動初期画面

【Version 2.3 in Japanese display】

AppCleanerバージョン2.3の起動初期画面

Competing apps

Here is a comparison table of “app deletion apps” similar to “AppClenaer”, which is often talked about.

Normally, you should only use “AppCleaner”, which is free and has a long history and proven track record, but please refer to it when you want to use another app as needed depending on the environment such as using an old Mac.

The “Arm Mac”, “Intel Mac”, and “PowerPC Mac” columns are limited to informations on the official website and Mac App Store.

① Manually remove② AppCleaner
Where to getOS standardOfficial site
LinkOpen
Arm Mac
Intel Mac
PowerPC Mac
OS compatibility全OS10.6 Snow Leopard – 12 Monterey
PriceFreeFree
Features・OS standard
・Easy to use
・Garbage such as
configuration files remains
・Easy to use
③ CleanMyMac X④ AppZapper
Where to getMac App StoreMac App Store
LinkOpenOpen
Arm Mac
Intel Mac
PowerPC Mac
OS compatibility10.10 Yosemite – 12 Monterey10.6.2 Snow Leopard –
Upper limit unknown
Price・Trial version
・Yearly Subscription 3,800 Yen
・One-Time Purchase11,000 Yen
・Trial version
・One-Time Purchase $19.95
Features・Multifunctional
(App removal, antivirus,
Garbage data deletion)
・In many cases,
the configuration file
cannot be detected / removed.
⑤ AppDelete⑥ Remove-It
Where to getOfficial siteOfficial site
LinkOpenOpen
Arm Mac
Intel Mac
PowerPC Mac
OS compatibility10.3 Panther – 10.15 Catalina10.11 El Capitan – 12 Monterey
Price・Trial version
One-Time Purchase $7.9-5.0
・Trial version
One-Time Purchase €9-8
Features・Multilingual・Trial up to 3 times
・New version of “⑦ iTrash”
⑦ iTrash⑧ AppTrap
Where to getOfficial siteOfficial site
LinkOpenOpen
Arm Mac
Intel Mac
PowerPC Mac
OS compatibility10.5 Leopard – 10.14 Mojave10.4 Tiger – 10.8 Mountain Lion
Price・Trial version
One-Time Purchase $8
・Free
Features・Trial up to 3 times
・Old version of “⑥ Remove-It”
・”System Preferences”
panel addition method

How to get AppCleaner

Download

▶ Click the link below to open the official “AppCleaner” website.

AppCleaner

▶ The figure below shows the official website opened.

Click the link corresponding to your macOS version from the list of “Downloads” enclosed in red to download them.

AppCleaner公式サイト

▶ When the screen for specifying the save location of the download is displayed, specify an appropriate location such as the folder “Download” and click the button “Save”.

Mac File Save Screen

▶ When the download is complete, continue with the following installation instructions.

Install

▶ When the download is complete, double-click the downloaded file as it is compressed in ZIP format.

This will restore the “AppCleaner” app itself.

You can leave it as it is, but it is recommended that you move it to the “Applications” folder as it will be used in the future.

By the way, the figure below is version 2.3, but the icon design is the same for 3.4 and 3.6.

How to use AppCleaner

The following is a bulleted list for each work contents, so click them to jump to each operation explanation.

①. Launch “AppCleaner”

▶ Double-click the AppCleaner app icon to launch it.

AppCleanerのアプリアイコン

▶ At the first startup, when the message, “AppCleaner.app is an application downloaded from the Internet. Are you sure you want to open it?”, is displayed as shown below, click the “Open” button.

Mac AppCleaner

▶ The initial screen when AppCleaner is launched is as shown in the following figure.

Versions 3.6 and 3.4 are written in English on exactly the same screen, and 2.3 is written according to the language environment of macOS.

If you want to continue to remove the app using AppCleaner, proceed to “②. Remove apps” below.


【Screens for versions 3.6 and 3.4】

AppCleanerバージョン3.6と3.4の起動初期画面

【Screen for versions 2.3】

Mac AppCleaner 2.3

②. Remove apps

There are two ways to remove apps with AppCleaner:

If you have decided which apps you want to remove, the operation of ②-1. is easy.

On the other hand, if you want to select from the list of apps that you want to remove, or if you want to remove the widgets or plugins, follow steps ②-2.

Widgets are mini-apps such as calculators and weather forecasts called “Dashboard Widgets” that can be used from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to macOS 10.14 Mojave.

For reference, the following movie is calling the widgets.

②-1. Remove apps by drag and drop

▶ With AppClear running, use Finde to find the app you want to remove.


【Version 3.6 and 3.4】

AppCleanerとFinderを同時に表示

【Version 2.3】

AppCleanerとFinderを同時に表示

▶ Drag and drop the app you want to remove to the place, “Drop your apps here”, inside the AppCleaner screen.


【Version 3.6 and 3.4】

Mac AppCleaner

【Version 2.3】

Mac AppCleaner

▶ The following is an example of drag and drop the application “VLC”.

Folders and files with a check mark on the left will be removed.

Probably there are some parts that are not checked immediately after drag and drop, so check all of them.

After checking them, click the “Remove” button at the bottom right to execute the removal.


【Version 3.6 and 3.4】

Mac AppCleaner

【Version 2.3】

Mac AppCleaner

②-2. Remove apps, widgets and plugins from the list

The procedure for removing is relatively different between versions 3.6 / 3.4 and 2.3, so I will explain them separately below.

②-2-a. Version 3.6 / 3.4 removal procedure

▶ With AppClear running, switch to the list display (apps, widgets, plugins) with the icon at the top of the screen.

Mac AppCleaner

▶ After switching to the list display, select “Applications / Widgets / Pliugins” from the pull-down list at the top of the screen to switch if necessary.

In the following description, select “Applications” as an example.

Mac AppCleaner

Below is the opening of the pull-down list.

AppCleanerの一覧画面でアプリ・ウィジェット・その他のフィルタ切り替え

▶ From the list, click the app you want to remove.

In the following explanation, I will select “VLC” as an example.

Mac AppCleaner

▶ After a while, related files such as setting files and folders will be detected in addition to the main body of the application etc., so from the detected list displayed next to it, ① check the one you want to delete and ② click the button “Remove”.

If you do not want to leave any traces such as setting information, check all.

Mac AppCleaner

▶ To return to the initial startup screen from the list screen, click the button “Drag and drop screen” at the top right of the screen.

Mac AppCleaner
②-2-b. Version 2.3 removal procedure

▶ With AppCleaner running, click the icons “Applications”, “Widgets” and “Others” at the top of the screen.

In the following description, click Application as an example.

Mac "AppCleaner"

▶ When the list is displayed, ① add check marks to the apps / widgets / plugins you want to remove, and then ② click the “Search” button to search for the file to be deleted.

Mac "AppCleaner"

▶ After a while, related files such as setting files and folders will be detected in addition to the main body of the application, so ① check the ones you want to remove and ② click the “Delete” button.

If you do not want to leave any traces such as setting information, check them all.

Mac "AppCleaner"

▶ To return to the initial startup screen from the list screen, click the “Cancel” button.

Mac "AppCleaner"

③. Preferences

The procedure for “Preferences” is relatively different between versions 3.6 / 3.4 and 2.3, so I will explain them separately below.

③-1. Version 3.6 / 3.4 “Preferences”

▶ From the menu bar, select “AppCleaner” -> “Preferences …”.

AppCleanerのメニューバーから環境設定を呼び出す

▶ When the “Preferences” screen is displayed, the following items can be set.

Switch and set the tabs “General”, “SmartDelete” and “Updates” at the top of the screen.

General

ItemDescription
Show protected appsYou can show / hide protected apps.
Protect default OS X appsYou can protect apps
that have been originally installed
on your Mac
from being removed.
Protect running appsRunning apps can be protected
from being removed.
Add additional apps
to keep safe below.
You can protect apps
from being removed
by adding them to the list.
AppCleanerの環境設定の「一般」

SmartDelete

ItemDescription
OFF / ONWhen you put the apps in the Trash,
you will be asked if
you want to remove the related files together.
AppCleanerの環境設定の「スマートデリート」

Updates

ItemDescription
Check updates automaticallyAutomatically check for updates
when AppCleaner starts
Check for UpdatesCheck for updates now
AppCleanerの環境設定の「アップデート」

▶ The figure below is an example of app protection.

As a result of adding the application “VMware Fusion” to the protected application, the application list is locked.

In this way, you can prevent accidentally removing the apps.

Mac "AppCleaner"

③-2. Version 2.3 “Preferences”

▶ From the menu bar, select “AppCleaner” -> “Preferences…”.

Mac "AppCleaner"

When the “Preferences” screen is displayed, the following items can be set.

Switch and set the tabs “General”, “SmartDelete” and “Updates” at the top of the screen.

General

ItemDescription
Drop the apps
to protect below.
You can protect apps
from being removed
by adding them to the list.
Protect launched appsRunning apps can be protected
from being removed.
Protect default appsYou can protect apps
that have been originally installed
on your Mac
from being removed.
Mac "AppCleaner"

SmartDelete

ItemDescription
OFF / ONWhen you put the apps in the Trash,
you will be asked if
you want to remove the related files together.
Mac "AppCleaner"

Updates

ItemDescription
Check updates automaticallyAutomatically check for updates
when AppCleaner starts
Check for UpdatesCheck for updates now
Mac "AppCleaner"

④. Version information

▶ From the menu bar, select “AppCleaner” -> “About AppCleaner”.

【Version 3.6 and 3.4】

AppCleanerのメニューバーからアプリ情報を呼び出す

【Version 2.3】

Mac "AppCleaner"

▶ AppCleaner version information is displayed.

【Version 3.6 and 3.4】

AppCleanerのアプリ情報を表示

【Version 2.3】

AppCleanerのアプリ情報を表示

If you can’t remove apps with AppCleaner

When you try to remove apps with AppCleaner, you may not be able to remove it with the following warning:

Can’t remove protected apps

You can choose which apps are protected in the preferences.

AppCleanerでアプリ削除に失敗したときのエラー画面

In this case, you need to open the AppCleaner “Preferences…” screen and change the settings of the apps that are protected from deletion.

Below are the steps.

▶ Click the button “Preferences…” on the warning screen

Mac "AppCleaner"

▶ AppCleanerの設定画面が開いたら、次の2ヶ所を確認して、必要に応じて変更します。

  • ① If it is registered in the list of apps to be protected from deletion, click the button “-” to cancel the registration.
  • ② If “Protec running apps” is checked, uncheck it.
AppCleanerの「環境設定」で削除保護を見直す

▶ After changing the setting, try deleting it again.
If that doesn’t work, try quitting AppCleaner, launching it again, and then removing apps.

By the way, the above warning screen is only for versions 3.6 and 3.4, not for version 2.3.

This is because apps that are protected in version 2.3 cannot be removed.

In the movie below, when you try to remove a protected app by dragging and dropping, the operation is disabled.

In addition, the protected apps have key icons displayed in the list display so that the delete operation itself cannot be performed.

Mac "AppCleaner"

Below is an enlarged view of the locked app icon.

A key-shaped icon is displayed at the bottom right of the icon to indicate that it cannot be deleted.

AppCleanerで保護されたアプリは削除できない一例

Reference information

AppCleaner review: Everything you need to know
s AppCleaner safe to use on your Mac? Find out in our complete AppCleaner review, where we look at t...

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