Home & Office

How to uninstall Chrome, Safari, and other built-in apps? OMG, you can't!

Forget Microsoft Edge. This conspiracy goes much deeper. I can't even uninstall the Chess game on my MacBook Pro. Why is nobody screaming about this?
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

I'm a little worried about one of my colleagues. Every week, Chris Matyszczyk highlights a complaint from some reader who seems... well, let's put it politely: They seem confused.

And instead of offering to enlighten those poor befuddled souls, Chris usually just listens and nods and turns the interaction into a humor column. But lately, it seems to be getting worse. In his most recent column, Chris says he's spent the last few weeks "banging [his] head against several floorboards."

Ouch. That probably hurts, and it might be doing some serious long-term damage.

And what he's committing self-harm over is about as trivial as things get: In solidarity with those poor bewildered readers, Chris wonders why Microsoft doesn't allow you to uninstall the default browser from Windows 10.

At least he quoted my article on the very same subject, which pointed out the reason you can't delete the default browser is because you need it to download your alternate browser, after which you can hide it.

Anyway, after I read Chris' post, I got inspired and looked through my Junk Mail folder. You won't believe what I found.

Did you know that if you have a Mac or an iPad, you can't delete the Safari browser?

It's true! I probably had several readers who alerted me to this, but because their messages were correctly shunted into my spam folder and deleted after 14 days, I can't quote their actual words. But trust me, they were really upset, I think!

Also: What's Windows 10's fastest web browser in 2020?Best Google Chrome extensions in 2020: Tab Wrangler, FoxClocks, and moreGoogle is really annoyed you're using Microsoft Edge

The good news is, because I didn't read those messages, I didn't bang my head against a hard, unforgiving surface and potentially cause long-term brain damage.

You would also be shocked if you learned how many other apps can't be deleted from your Mac or iPad. When I fired up my MacBook Pro and tried to start deleting apps, I discovered that the ghost of Steve Jobs was preventing me from deleting (takes a deep breath) Safari, the default browser. I am not making this up.

Also, I couldn't get rid of Siri. Or the Stocks or News apps. Or Calculator. Or even, and you really should be sitting down for this: Chess.

That's right. Apple shoves a game down your throat when you buy a Mac, and there's no way to get rid of it. I am told (by a Wikipedia search) that this "Chess" game is 1,500 years old. So, let's get this straight. Apple is forcing its customers to use games that haven't been updated in 15 centuries, and nobody is screaming about this?

Next up, I grabbed my Android phone and tried to delete Chrome, the default browser.

Oh man, you won't believe what happened next. I stabbed the Uninstall button so hard I thought I was going to break my thumb on the Gorilla Glass, but nothing happened. After a quick Bing search, I discovered that Google won't let you remove the default browser on an Android device.

I'm sensing a pattern here.

All the Chromium-based browsers

In fact, if you go look at all the apps that are included with a modern operating system, you discover that there really is a pattern. Those OS makers want to provide a reasonably complete set of tools that their customers can use to be productive or have fun. This is why you get a music app and a text editor and a photo viewer and a game or two or three and, yes, a default browser with every operating system.

And none of them can be uninstalled.

Which is just fine with me.

I don't know, but maybe the solution is not to complain about the software engineers building those operating systems but instead to filter your inbox so that people with silly complaints go into a… well, let's call it a digital cornfield.

I mean, that would make a very good column.

Editorial standards