How to Delete Safari, Mail, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and Other Default Mac OS X Apps

Feb 5, 2012 - 47 Comments

Delete Safari, Photo Booth, Stickies, Chess, and other default OS X apps

If you have tried to delete Safari, Mail, FaceTime, Chess, Photo Booth, Stickies, QuickTime, or any of the other default Mac OS X apps before, you’ll know the Finder prevents you from doing so. Try to move one of these apps to the trash to uninstall it and you’ll get a message saying: ‘”” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by Mac OS X.’

That message is more to dissuade you than anything else, because there is a way to delete any of these default apps that are required by Mac OS X, it’s just generally not recommended to do so.

Safari Can't Be Deleted Warning Dialog

For apps like Safari and QuickTime Player, this is particularly true, as other apps may use Safari or it’s elements to function properly (including other web browsers), but for apps like Stickies, Chess, FaceTime, and Photo Booth, you can safely delete them without any mal effects.

How to Delete Safari, Mail, FaceTime, Photo Booth, & Other Default Apps

Warning: There is no undoing the app deletion without reinstalling the individual application or Mac OS X. This will result in permanent removal of the specified applications and could result in abnormal system behavior or improper functionality. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and why, this is not recommended. Perform a backup beforehand, and proceed at your own risk.

  • Launch the Terminal, located in /Applications/Utilities/
  • Type the following at the command line to change to the Applications directory:

cd /Applications/

Now that you are in the Applications folder, you can start deleting apps. You will not get a confirmation of the removal, the app will simply be deleted completely. The following commands will only work when used in the /Applications/ directory.

Delete Safari
sudo rm -rf

Delete Mail
sudo rm -rf

Delete FaceTime
sudo rm -rf

Delete QuickTime Player
sudo rm -rf QuickTime\

Delete Stickies
sudo rm -rf

Delete Chess
sudo rm -rf

Delete Photo Booth
sudo rm -rf Photo\

If you’re comfortable enough with the command line, you could supply the full application path with /Applications/ but considering the potential for catastrophic error with sudo rm -rf we used the safer method.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Edward Polack says:

    I understand people want to make a clutter free environment on their computer. Unfortunately Apple has integrated its programs quite well. I just remove the ones off the Dock. Out of sight, out of mind!

  2. Alberto says:

    Remove some MB of file (app) on an HD with a minimum size of 250 GB has not a lot of sense I think…

    • Badger says:

      My laptop running Lion has a 120MB disk which is split between OSX and Windows 7. Freeing 250MB – 500MB by removing programs I NEVER use would be great.

      Before you ask why I upgraded . . . newer and free XCode.

  3. dtm says:

    I came across this just last week trying to trouble shoot a Safari issue. When I got that dialog my first thought was “wasn’t Microsoft partly sued by the government for not IE part of the OS?”

  4. KKDK says:

    I wouldn’t even worry about deleting them permanently because if I need them in future. I would just move them out-of-sight from dock.

  5. Dr_Oh says:

    Waiting for the ‘I just sudo rm’ed my Library folder’ comment.

  6. LuckyStar says:

    Or you can just get AppCleaner.
    Those programs will show up with locks, but if you double click them you can select them. The app will search for any associated files and then you can delete.

  7. Joseph says:

    How does one re-install removed system apps? Just in case.

  8. Brian Yang says:

    Same for iTunes I would guess? Seems like a bad idea to delete these apps!

  9. adam says:

    Yes I had noticed that,
    and now the Utilities folder is locked…
    Bad Apple :p

  10. Jim says:

    This is great advice. I’m finding I am using Google Apps moreso than the Apple Stuff. Free is a good thing, and I don’t have to be tied to the Mac OS.

  11. […] o utilitate pentru Safari, iTunes, Mail, Photo Booth sau alte aplicatii ale Mac OS X, am astazi o metoda prin care puteti sterge aceste aplicatii fara prea mult efort. Stiu ca exista aplicatii pe web care […]

  12. Emily H says:

    Why is it that Apple retains such tight control over all of it’s products? Once the computer has been purchased, it seems as though the owner should be able to do as they wish, rather than have to go through command functions to remove unnecessary programs. It is a similar issue as that which has been found with the iphones and Apple’s fight to prevent people from installing whatever os they want on the phone.

  13. […] what if you want to remove Xcode? Doing so is not the same as uninstalling general Mac apps or even ditching the default apps because Xcode has a much larger footprint, so to uninstall Xcode you’ll need to venture into […]

  14. OSX4Life says:

    Finally got rid of that pesky, good-for-nothing QuickTime Player so I can make all my files default to good old QuickTime Player 7, the way nature intended!

    Jim: “This is great advice. I’m finding I am using Google Apps moreso than the Apple Stuff. Free is a good thing, and I don’t have to be tied to the Mac OS.”

    Jim, free is good. So is piracy, I heard. And what’s wrong with being tied to Mac OS? Please. You’re on an OS X site. Are you wearing your flame retardant suit?

    • Ishayu says:

      Piracy is a term which implies that infringing copyright is the moral equivalent to attacking ships. Piracy is very bad. Copying software… not quite so bad.

      When he says free he means free as in freedom. He likes to be free of the restrictions of only using OS X so he uses a cross platform solution instead of one that locks him down to OS X.

      What’s wrong with being tied to Mac OS X is in the very term. I love Mac OS X and I use it all the time, don’t get me wrong. But the moment it ties me to something I lose my freedom, and that’s not something I want any software to do.

  15. abraham says:

    Great Tutorial, Thank you.

  16. Brad Lewis says:

    Just to play Devil’s advocate for a second on why someone would want to delete one of these programs. I teach at the high school level and have 20 iMac computers in my room. Naturally, my students want to play with them and the #1 app they play with most is Photo Booth.

    I spent a lot of my time policing that activity and asking my students to stop using it. Last year, I deleted Photo Booth from the computers (I was using Snow Leopard so moving it to the trash was all I had to do) and that was a God send! I didn’t have to waste my time telling my students to get off Photo Booth. Total time saver!

    And just a side note – yes I have tried Parental Controls, but that inadvertently also locks out our Adobe CS programs when I do that, causing more problems for me to have to deal with. Just easier to delete the application.

    Now I have new iMacs with Lion OSX and was disappointed to see that message pop up. My only concern is that if I ever wanted to re-install it then I would have to re-install OSX.

  17. jim says:

    Has anyone tried deleting Did it cause any other problems? I don’t use mail. I’ve tried everything under the sun to get it to stop auto-starting, but nothing works! Everything is off. Everything is disconnected. But still, it opens, bouncing around, about 6 times a day. I’m at my wits-end and ready for an rm surgery.

    • Todd Edwards says:

      I compressed (made it a zip file), then deleted the original. That way, if anything goes wrong, I can simply unzip mail and have it back without having to reinstall OS X.

  18. Ed says:

    Works fine until enter password.
    Can not insert password with keyboard.
    Key board is disabled.

    • Ben J says:

      It may appear that your keyboard is disabled but it isn’t. It just doesn’t show that you’re typing a password in Terminal when it requests.

      Continue to type your password and press enter once finished.

  19. ShaLipe says:

    I would just leave Mail alone and ignore it but once in a while it pops up wanting me to create an account… It’s just annoying! Thank you for the tutorial!

  20. If you want to do this without the worry of loosing the applications forever do the following:

    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/QuickTime\ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/Photo\ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck
    sudo mv /Applications/ /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/SystemsAppsThatSuck

  21. Ans says:

    its asking for my password, but not letting me type it why?

    • pH says:

      When the terminal asks for your password, type it, even if you don’t see it. It lets you type your password without being visible, the command line in both Mac OS X and Linux always hides passwords for security purposes.

  22. Mariana says:


    I’ve accidentally moved my movies folder to another subfolder and now I want to put it back to the apple folder but I can’t. It says: can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by Mac OS X.

    What should I do? I don’t want to delete the folder, only move it back.


  23. Tabascoaliencowboy says:

    Thank you 😉 you literally saved my life.

  24. nononoidea says:

    TO be honest, konsole says then

    “**myusersame*** is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.
    **myusername**:~ ***myusername***$

  25. Marcio Lambert says:

    What is the command line for “Grapher” app?

  26. Bruce says:

    Oops. I deleted Safari with sudo rm -rf because I had some malware issues. I then reinstalled Snow Leopard, and now Safari won’t open. Any way to reinstall Safarif or Snow Leopard? It’s not a huge issue, since I have Safari on my iPad and on another partition of my computer that’s running Mountain Lion, but my original intent was to get rid of the malware issues with Safari and then be able to use a clean version. I use Snow Leopard because of older software I use all the time that won’t work with newer a Mac OS. Any ideas? Would Pacifist help? Thanks.

  27. Bruce says:

    Never mind. I found Safari installer and was able to successfully reinstall Safari.

  28. barbara says:

    I just tried everything you said and still could not uninstall the Image Capture app from Canon. I don’t want it or MP Navigator. I just want to be able to press the scanner button on my printer/scanner and have it pop up on my screen, like it used to, so I can immediately put it in the file where I want it. They have that stupid “can’t modify or unstall because OS-X requires it”, which I find hard to believe since I only installed it 2 days ago!

  29. William Cerniuk says:

    Unfortunately the Applications folder is a terrible mess under Mac OS X. If you are a power user, it is a very distracting eyesore every time you open it.

    Ironically, moving a non-apple commercial app is trivial and works fine. Most everything can be nicely organized into subfolders under the Applications folder. You can even create an Applications folder or similar under your Home folder and have apps there, nicely organized and neatly displayed.

    What you can’t do is organize Apples mess. Try and create an “Internet” folder and move Safari and FaceTime in and you face a significant challenge. They, instead of moving, make a copy. That makes no sense.

    But it gets worse…

    Because any malware can make an assumption about where your apps are, it makes it just that much easier to infect them. Where is FaceTime on EVERY Mac? /Applications/FaceTime Simple.

    The lovey irony is that under the original Mac OS, organizing, installing and uninstalling apps was trivial with no restrictions. What I do on my Mac with over 100 apps today is not significantly different than 1997 under Mac OS X short of the wrestling match that Mac OS X incurs. Wrestling matches take time… and in my case, time away from doing real work.

    Mac OS X devolves more and more like Windows with every release while Windows evolves towards the better aspects of Mac OS X with every release.

  30. William Cerniuk says:

    Oh yes… this technique has been thwarted. Apple has some kind of super secret decoder ring thing going on that inhibits “rm” on the base applications. Now you get a huge dump of error messages like:

    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted

    • Billy says:

      sudo rm -rf will override that, but if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing and which path to specify, don’t attempt it because you may delete things you don’t want to delete.

  31. William Cerniuk says:

    Billy, I wish it sudo rm -rf worked but it doesn’t :-( That’s the rub. vintage command line “rm” is foiled too now.

    damac:~ wm$ sudo rm -rf /Applications/
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted
    rm: /Applications/ Operation not permitted

  32. William Cerniuk says:

    Oh yes, that’s El Capitan where sudo rm -rf is foiled.

  33. Inga says:

    I tried to go by your recommedation to uninstall MAIL but got this for an answer:
    WARNING: Improper use of the sudo command could lead to data loss or the deletion of important system files. Please double-check your typing when using sudo. Type “man sudo” for more information.

    To proceed, enter your password, or type Ctrl-C to abort.

    Sorry, try again.

    But I cannot type in any password!
    What do I do?

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