The application on the Mac is not removed because it’s still open. What to do?

Normally, getting rid of unwanted items on Mac involves just two steps.

First, you send the item to the Trash bin — but after that, the app will still be kept in your device’s memory and you will be able to restore it.

Second, you empty the trash and thus erase the item from your computer for good.

But sometimes an app won’t be eliminated because of allegedly being used. Even though you might not have launched it deliberately.

In this article, you’ll find handy tips on how to handle such situations and which steps need to be taken to erase unwanted apps from your computer’s memory.

Quit All the Apps

The notification stating “The application on the Mac is not removed because it’s still open“- is about the app being used often astounds newbies.

They wonder: “How can this app keep functioning if I quit it and its window is not open?”.

The problem consists in the fact that the app in question might be running in the background, supporting the functionality of some other software.

In this case, you should quit all the apps that are currently open and then try to remove the unwanted one.

To quit all the apps on your Mac: 

  1. Click Finder icon on your dock;
  2. Select Applications;
  3. Under the Application folder, double-click on Utilities;
  4. Now, under utility window, double-click on the Activity Monitor to open it;
  5. Next, step is searching the unwanted app by typing in the Search bar;
  6. Once, you find the it, select the app;
    Quit all Apps mac

    Quit all Apps mac

  7. On your upper-left corner, click on the X to delete it;
  8. Click Quit to confirm deleting the process.
  9. Repeat with other apps.

Now, the app in questions showing “The application on the Mac is not removed because it’s still open” is closed from running in the background. So, you should try deleting the app now.

If this won’t help, restart your computer and try to remove the unwanted item once again.

It’s not that rare that background processes launch automatically as soon as you start the system.

To prevent this, restart the computer in Safe Mode: push Shift as soon as the device starts loading and release this button only after you see the Apple logo on the screen.

In safe mode, you should be able to erase the unruly item without any problems.

Identify Troublesome Apps through the Terminal

To detect which app is using the one that you are trying to remove, complete the subsequent steps:

  1. Double-click on the garbage icon to launch a Finder window.
  2. Launch the Terminal either through the Applications or with Spotlight search.
  3. Introduce into the Terminal this command and make sure there is a space at the end: “Isof “. Be careful and don’t push Return!
  4. Drag the item that you are trying to dispose of from the garbage to the Terminal.
  5. Push Return when you see some text popping up.
  6. The Terminal will display an inventory of apps and processes that are using the app you are trying to get rid of. Your task will be to manually quit all these apps one by one.

It might turn out that the app is currently being used not by another app but by a background process.

So, to terminate it, launch Activity Monitor, find the process in the list and push the X mark. (follow above steps to do so.)

Resort to Delete Immediately

This command exists only in Mac OS El Capitan or later:

  1. Proceed to the Trash Bin and select those items that you would like to dispose of.
  2. Control-click them and opt for Delete Immediately.
  3. Confirm your decision.

Mind that the process is irrevocable and you won’t be able to restore the erased contents later.

Resort to Specialized Cleaning Software

Even though deleting apps manually is not a difficult process, it still has the following drawbacks:

Undoubtedly, it takes certain time and effort.

Even after that, you may fail to delete all the app’s files.

In this case, the app may automatically reinstall itself in a while — or its files will simply keep clogging your computer’s memory.

Accidentally, you might delete some useful files as well — those that are crucial for the system’s functioning.

As a result, some other apps might fail to start or you might come across nasty bugs.

To avoid this, you might want to download specialized cleaning software. It will help you to get rid only of those apps that you don’t need, while the useful content will remain untouched.

Just push the button once and you won’t need to look through all your folders manually. The app will detect junk items and duplicate files in a matter of seconds and will ask for your approval to destroy them. You won’t even need to empty the trash bin manually.

In some cases, such software doubles as antivirus, which is especially valuable. Like this, you can be sure that your Mac always remains safe and has enough free disk space to work productively. On rare occasions, an app might fail to delete because it was contaminated by malware. The antivirus will promptly detect it, cure the app as well as other components of the system and remove unwanted software.

Some Extra Information

In addition to the above-listed cases, you might fail to remove an app or some other file because they are locked.

In this case, there will be a symbol of a lock in the lower left corner of their icons. It protects the files from random changes by third parties.

To lift this protection, right-click the app’s icon, select Get Info and proceed to the General section. There, uncheck the Locked box.

Trouble with deleting files might also arise if you lack administrator privileges.

To vest yourself with these rights, proceed to the Sharing & Permissions section and there, allow your account to Read and Write.

Alternatively, ask the administrator to erase the app.

Last but not least, you shouldn’t discard the probability of your hard drive going out of order.

To fix this problem, you can start the computer in Recovery Mode and resort to the Disk Utility. But honestly speaking, in case of serious breakdowns you should take the device to the service center.

Without professional knowledge and skills, relying only on the guidance from the Internet, you would hardly be able to solve the issue.


Hopefully, now you should be able to delete any unwanted app from your Mac with minimum efforts. Cleaning the device’s memory with the help of specialized software is always faster and easier than doing it manually.

Like this, you can be sure that useful elements are left untouched and the computer will keep functioning properly.

Make a habit of systematically removing those apps that you don’t use to free some space on your hard drive for valuable content.

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