Sabbar: Removing a Mac's unnecessary software can be a trick

Sabbar: Removing a Mac's unnecessary software can be a trick


Over the past 15 years of writing tech articles for the Kenosha News, I’ve devoted several columns to removing unnecessary software and stopping processes in Windows that can slow your computer down.

I’ve never written about how to do that on a Mac. Should be easy, right? Just drag the program to the trash? It isn’t necessarily that easy, so here are some tips:

For some programs, it IS as easy as dragging it to the Trash. Find the program you want to delete in the Applications folder through the Finder:

Access the Finder by clicking the “square man with two faces” icon or by clicking on your desktop in a place where there are no icons.

Click the Go menu across the very top of your screen, and select Applications from the drop-down list.

Drag the unwanted application to the Trash at the lower right corner of your screen OR right-click the icon for the app and click Move to Trash OR click on the application to highlight it then click Cmd (the curly thing) and Delete.

It may ask you to type in your password to approve the deletion.

When trying to delete an app, you may get a message that it can’t be deleted because it is running. This is often the case the background apps such as Google Drive FileStream, Skype, or Adobe Creative Cloud. To force a program, to stop:

Launch the program so that it starts up. The name of the app should be displayed next to the Apple icon at the upper left.

Press Option-Cmd-Esc OR click the Apple icon and select Force Quit.

If presented with a list of running apps, click the one you want to stop, and click Force Quit.

Click the next Force Quit button again. Close the list window. You should now be able to remove the app.

If the program or item you want to uninstall or stop is not on the list of programs that you can Force Quit, then it is probably one of a surprisingly high number of background apps running on your Mac.

When I saw this list for the first time, I was surprised how many processes there were — probably hogging a lot of my resources. You can display the list and kill your processes as follows using the Activity Monitor:

Go to the Finder

Click the Go menu and select Utilities (a folder inside the Applications folder)

Double-click Activity Monitor to open it

On the list, you can click the buttons at the top to see how much CPU, memory, energy, disk, or network bandwidth the processes are using. Click the Process Name header to sort them alphabetically.

Identify a process that you really don’t need, such as any leftover processes from an app you deleted. Click it.

Click the “X in a stop sign icon” at the upper left.

Click Quit.

Be careful not to remove programs or kill processes that you count on, but if you have installed apps that you no longer need, this will help you clean house.

Carol Sabbar is director of computer services at Carthage College. Email her at


The business news you need

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.