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

Feb 5, 2012 - 76 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, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Larry Rogers says:

    HOW CAN I DELETE IT OR UNINSTALL IT??? Don’t know how or who did that ??

    • Paul says:

      FaceTime comes preinstalled on Mac, iPhone, and iPad, it’s a default app.

      The article details how to delete FaceTime on a Mac.

    • DDD says:

      reload your computer
      press command +R
      it is booting a bit weirdo
      from top menu select terminal

      issue the following command
      crsutil disable

      reload your computer

      open terminal after reload

      sudo su

      mount -uw /System/Applications
      remove app as the following
      rm -rf
      rm -rf

  2. winning says:

    Use DuckDuckGo to search for this phrase: “MacOS X – How to remove pre-installed applications”

    I use Sierra, and this allowed me to delete all the things that were annoying me. No more Chess. No more iBooks. No more Maps or Notes. Just good old fashioned control of my data and vulnerabilities.

    Short version: “Get Info” on the file, then click the little padlock on the lower right and unlock the file. Now change the permissions for ‘everyone’ to ‘Read and Write’ instead of ‘custom’. Once you’ve done that you can delete the file and empty your trash.

  3. Antib Loat says:

    Alas; I am using OSX Sierra, and I can’t get traction with these techniques.

    Even using the “csrutil disable” doesn’t work. I’m at an impasse for now.

    I’ll give it a bit, then try more heroic efforts to remove bloatware (every bit of bloatware is another vulnerability, after all.)

  4. Coy says:

    I found this update here:

    As your OS X is El Capitan, you need to disable SIP (System Integrity Protection) before you can remove Photo Booth app.

    To disabled SIP just follow the steps below…
    1. Hold down CMD+R and power on your Mac to boot into Recovery Mode
    2. Click Utilities on the top menu and click Terminal
    3. Type in “csrutil disable” and press return
    4. Close Terminal and restart your Mac
    5. Once your Mac has rebooted you will now be able to Delete system apps, like the wonderful Game Centre, Reminders, Photo Booth apps
    6. Then Empty Trash If you don’t and enable SIP you will need to disable SIP again to empty the Trash.

  5. willseye says:

    I have been getting the same response, has there ben any fix with this?
    I really want my MacBook stripped to bare minimum before I install the sole software I want it for.

    macOS Sierra
    version 10.12.5

  6. Michael Cox says:

    rm: Operation not permitted
    rm: Operation not permitted
    rm: Operation not permitted
    rm: Operation not permitted
    rm: Operation not permitted
    rm: Operation not permitted

  7. woop says:

    same here.. “After entering the password, I get a message: Operation not permitted. Help. Thx.”

  8. Monique says:

    I have a situation in which there is a problem with FaceTime and I need to delete and reinstall. Skype works fine. But in FaceTime, after a few minutes I get the same frames replaying over and over (audio is fine) and then the screen starts flickering and goes to all green.

    I’ve tried entering terminal, switching to the applications directory, and then use the sudo command to delete FaceTime. After entering the password, I get a message: Operation not permitted. Help. Thx.

  9. Jiahua Liu says:

    Safari will not delete using those commands.

    • otin says:

      You have to be in the Safari directory, or issue the full path to delete Safari like so:

      sudo rm -rf /Applications/

      This is IRREVERSIBLE and can not be undone, it is not recommended.

  10. Chris Clee says:

    My Issue is with Safari 9.0.3. It was released as an update some weeks back and is creating havoc with our school HTTPS filtering. Basically websites like no longer load but were fine and dandy with Safari 8.0.8. They work now with Chrome and firefox using the same filtering system just not with Safari 9.x.x. I simply want to revert back to 8.0.8 but can’t without installing the whole OS. Oh and Google docs and slides crash it too……Not great thinking Apple. Please release a stable patch for Safari 9 ASAP or I have 16 brand new bricks on el capitan and 120 plus MacBooks and iMacs to re-instal the OS.

  11. Tera.byte says:

    And apple will help for $320 and three week ship and return date. There isn’t an easier way? Like finding out how to change permissions in recovery mode? Thank you for response either way :)

  12. Tera.byte says:

    I wouldn’t mind deleting one of my user accounts but that is also read only

  13. Tera.byte says:

    Oh, ok well I went into library and tried deleting photos and Adobe Acrobat, videos but they are all still read only.

  14. Tera.byte says:

    Remember I cannot boot into normal mode, tried deleting pram smc nvram, HD is not journaled, disk utility says everything is ok, I’ve gone thru all the startup issue discussions, firmware password is turned off, any suggestions

  15. Tera.byte says:

    Hello I don’t have any more space on my Mac, I need to delete some files from terminal in recovery mode. I went to delete chess and a few others but it returns as : READ ONLY how can I change permissions to get any of the apps to delete or directories? I have looked everywhere for help and haven’t gotten an answer that works. Please help!?

    • no says:

      No you should not delete apps to free up space if you’re that low. You need to delete your own user files, your own junk that has accumulated on your Mac. Back up stuff to an external drive and delete the stuff from your internal hard drive. That’s the solution.

      You are asking to break something with your user knowledge level mucking around with the terminal and deleting apps. Don’t do it. Go to an Apple Store and ask them to help if you’re confused.

  16. 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?

  17. William Cerniuk says:

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

  18. 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

    • Roro says:

      In El Capitan you need to disable rootless if you want to use sudo

      • Gustavo Reis says:

        I disabled temporarily SIP and I tried to remove, the operation wasn’t permitted. :-/

        Only you can remove the useless apps from OS X installer Pacifist.

    • P.E says:

      it dossen’t work i also just get Permision Denied and it was only facetime and photo both coz i never use on my mac mini coz there are no cam installed and can’t see why it shu be importent to OS X same With Music
      so why have aps you newre use although it’s not space i need i just like to decide what is on my STUFF but if it cant be removed like itunes and garageband ill just as others say let them be in programs and cut them from dock

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. Bruce says:

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

  23. 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.

  24. Marcio Lambert says:

    What is the command line for “Grapher” app?

  25. nononoidea says:

    TO be honest, konsole says then

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

  26. Tabascoaliencowboy says:

    Thank you ;) you literally saved my life.

  27. 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.


  28. 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.

  29. 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

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

    • Adeline says:


      I deleted Mail using the above method on my MBA running Mojave last week. I use thunderbird instead. NO TROUBLE AT ALL. and I set Tbird to default (and firefox) and it opens them, or chrome, depending on the need of the link. never even asked me about mail. just goes right to tbird.

      I didn’t delete safari though. yet.

      I used the SIP disablement, then rm -rf method from terminal in recovery mode, then reabled the SIP and rebooted. Easy, peasy.

  33. 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.

  34. abraham says:

    Great Tutorial, Thank you.

  35. 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.

      • the_flouche says:

        1. Yes, you are right. Piracy is not implying, it is in fact stealing. The person pirating – is getting their stuff: for free.

        2. When he says free he means free as in the freedom to not use Apple products and use something.. other than Apple? If what the company has to offer doesn’t suit you, then leave. Don’t buy a pizza if you want a burger. You want the pizza man to make you a pizza burger? Expect it to taste like a pizza? Alright then, I’m not going to judge you but, the guy making your pizza might. He might also tell you to go to McDonalds instead lol. Except that now, I will speak for the pizza man.

        3. If you don’t want to lose your freedom, then why are you purchasing a product that says – “you can’t do x, y or z” and if you do, then we can’t guarantee your system will be safe/stable”?

        I tell you what, you go ahead and use your freedom elsewhere if the free choice you made when buying this system doesn’t fit perfectly in your everyday life OR take your freedom and just use these damn commands if you want to remove some unnecessary programs. It is obvious to some of us that people will google “how to remove native apps in mac os x” and they might end up here and voila, they can now be as free as anyone else to just remove these apps and, enjoy their freedom too.

        If you don’t know how to do something on a UNIX based system then the choices left aren’t that many or you just figure it out with google and some 5 minutes of reading.
        I can do more things on a Mac/Linux machine than I can on any other platform that isn’t WinXP. If you don’t know how to do something, find a way (use the internet). If you can’t then create a path (use internet to search google). If you can’t create a path then craft tools (click on some link and read a few lines). If you can’t craft tools then it might be time to go a different way? (optional: build sandcastles).

        • adeline says:

          OH- I am required to use mac OS, not for the system or stock apps, but because the application I work in has not been update in windows for 7 years. the linux version is only a beta and unsupported, and with the ubuntu 18.10 kernel update no longer works. I have a deadline and can’t afford the effort to troubleshoot that again, is was cheaper to buy a newer MB Air refurb machine cheaply than spend time discovering workarounds that may or may not exist. I have a license for WIndows and MAc for the software, and it hasn’t got a reasonable competitor out there, it’s a beautiful solution for my work. My older macs no longer support dropbox, or the current OsX. this one capped at El Capitan and the others are forever stuck in Lion. yup, lion.

          So, looking for solutions. not beligerance or piracy. I’m glad to support Literature and LAttle because Scrivener is an Amazing tool. I pay them for every upgrade on each platform I have licensed because I want them to keep doing their work so I can keep mine. But right now I needed to upgrade to work and mac is the only way I could do that.

      • adeline says:

        I agree. It’s amazing if you install an app like Little Snitch just HOW MUCH BANDWIDTH every moment from your machine is talking to apple’s servers. most of it, I’m sure, is MY data, being synced, presumably, for me.

        I know I should, but I don’t read those long winded legal software EULA’s. I wouldnt really understand their implications if I did and I do know two things about them without reading them: 1- If I *don’t* agree, I don’t use that pricey hardware I just paid for- like – at all. Agree or you can’t use it. end of story. and 2- that the ‘agreement’ serves one purpose- Keeping Apple protected from liability, theft, and lawsuits. I’m not stealing from them, and I’m not planning on suing them. I got other stuff to spend my life doing ATM. so I click yes.

        That said, I don’t know what *really* happens with my data. I’m in no position to be able to know, and I haven’t got the knowledge to interpret the information anyhow. it’s not my area of expertise. like most users, I’d wager.

        SO why not cut out stuff I just don’t use at all; at all, at all. I don’t use it, I don’t need it, I don’t WANT IT.

        I don’t WANT it there. that’s a GOOD ENOUGH reason, given that I paid for the sumb machine, and not to pay apple to sell me stuff or distract me with images or extra stuff in my workspace mentally, which for me, is my computer. If I don’t want my information being synced, I should be able to turn all that off. Period. and since I can’t reasonable really know what it going on behind the sidelines, I should be able to control whatever portion of it that I can.

        I should be free to use open source, alternative software. If I want to use firefox focus 100% exclusively, that should be a choice I can make for myself. if I don’t want to use Mac Mail, also should be my prerogative, right? so why not delete them and be certain the system isn’t doing all that background data exchanging?

        Plus, I DO have space issues. MY MB Air has a 128gb HD. I have 69 GB of music, and 58 GB of photos. the apps I personally need for work take up about another GB with the files, etc I need for them. so space is tight, and internet bandwidth at my place is tight.

        I don’t want my system prioritizing apple’s interests in my data over MY interests in the data I bought the damn computer to generate and USE.

        End of story.

  36. […] 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 […]

  37. 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.

  38. […] 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 […]

  39. 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.

  40. adam says:

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

  41. Brian Yang says:

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

  42. Joseph says:

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

  43. 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.

  44. Dr_Oh says:

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

  45. 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.

  46. 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?”

  47. 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…

  48. 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!

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