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There are some apps that come with the OS on a Mac and which I've never used even once in years. Apps like "Grapher" or "Stocks".

Now my disk is almost full and I'm trying to remove these unused apps to free up a bit of space, but no matter what I try I am unable to uninstall them. When I drag the Stocks app to the trash, for example, the operation is refused and I get a message saying

“Stocks.app” can’t be modified or deleted because it’s required by macOS.

The same is true for Grapher.app, Books.app and others.

Now why would a stock app be required be the OS? That doesn't really make sense to me.

So is it possible to get rid of these apps that I never use?

I've been reading about the System Integrity Protection stuff, but I don't understand why removing an app I never use is a danger to my system integrity…

Would my system still work if I managed to uninstall Stocks.app?

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    Which version of macOS are you running? PS: Stocks uses 4MB, Graphes uses 13.3MB.
    – nohillside
    Oct 1, 2021 at 14:16
  • Best option is to look at your own data and consider backup…
    – Solar Mike
    Oct 1, 2021 at 16:31
  • As others have said, there are plenty of solutions out there to clean up my own files. This question is specifically about cleaning up these pesky system apps that I don't want.
    – Shawn
    Oct 2, 2021 at 19:52
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    On Mojave you can remove the applications you don‘t want by booting into recovery. It won‘t get you enough disk space to upgrade (or improve your disk situation in general). Get an external drive and put part of your files there (don‘t forget to backup the external drive as well).
    – nohillside
    Oct 4, 2021 at 5:26
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    You'll have to use Terminal, there are Q&A on the site explaining this is detail. Would be surprised if it solves your disk space problem though, we are talking a handful of Megabytes here.
    – nohillside
    Oct 4, 2021 at 17:51

2 Answers 2

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Short version: you can't delete them (without some hackery), and even if you could, it wouldn't help you.

On modern macOS systems (since Big Sur, maybe even Catalina?; can't remember) the system is divided into a read-only partition with all the system/OS stuff, and a writeable partition where all your file live (plus any additional disks you may have). MacOS "overlays" the things from the read-only partition into your directory tree (as seen from Finder; from the shell or apps point-of-view, it's clearly divided).

Apple-provided apps are on the read-only partition. So even though they appear in /Applications in Finder (and some apps), in reality, they're in /System/Applications. Deleting them would require you to remount the read-only partition (which you can only do in Recovery Mode, as far as I know). But even then, it wouldn't help you with your space problem as the size of the read-only partition does not change, thus you would not get any additional free space on your main partition by deleting the system-provided apps.

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  • On Big Sur, removing things from /System without re-calculating all the checksums will render the systen un-bootable. And you would need to do this after each update.
    – nohillside
    Oct 1, 2021 at 14:59
  • @nohillside: Did not know about this, thanks. Even stronger reason not to fiddle with the OS partition.
    – DarkDust
    Oct 1, 2021 at 15:01
  • Thanks for the explanation. It does seem really strange though. Am I the only guy in the world that doesn't need a Stock app on my laptop?
    – Shawn
    Oct 1, 2021 at 16:09
  • @shawn modern OS include tons of stuff you‘ll never need. Would loose any thoughts about a few MBs.
    – nohillside
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:08
  • @nohillside is there any of it I can get rid of? can you point me to some bigger wins?
    – Shawn
    Oct 1, 2021 at 17:23
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As @nohillside mentioned those apps don't really use a lot of space, may I instead suggest two options :

  1. Use "cleaning apps" like. CleanMyMac or others
  2. Use iCloud Drive and integrated tools to manage your files

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