Remove Allow in the Background items on the Apple Mac

Apps can automatically load and run in the background on the Apple Mac, but sometimes you don’t want them to. How do you remove Allow in the Background items in System Settings in macOS?

When an app is installed, or perhaps when it is first run, you might see a notice displayed on the screen in macOS saying that the app has added background items. It says that you can manage this in Settings.

Allow in the Background items added in macOS on the Apple Mac.

If you go to System Settings > General > Login Items, there is a list of apps that run in the background and there are on/off switches to enable or disable this activity. Usually, there is a good reason for allowing an app to run in the background, but for various reasons, you might not want one to run. Turn off the switch next to it.

Apps that run in the background in macOS settings on the Apple Mac.
Background apps in macOS settings

This is useful, but where is the option to delete an item and remove it from the list? They can be turned off with the switch, but not deleted. You might expect that deleting an app by dragging it to the Bin in the Dock from the Applications folder would remove the background item, but it does not and it is still there.

Even after deleting an app by moving it to the Bin, it continues to be listed in the Allow in the Background list. This list is not editable by design and it is located in a secure part of macOS where users, even administrators, cannot access it. There are no options to add or delete items, so how do you get rid of a background app? There are a few methods. Let’s take a look.

Related: How to delete a VPN on the Mac with macOS Ventura or later

Uninstall the app

When all traces of an app has been removed from the Mac, macOS will automatically remove the entry in the Allow in the Background list. It is difficult, maybe impossible, to remove an item in the list without removing the app from the Mac.

Dragging an app to the trash is not sufficient and the item will still appear in Allow in the Background. However, if you empty the Bin completely or open it and delete the files relating to the app, macOS will then remove the item from the Allow in the Background list for you. You must close System Settings and then open it again to see that it is gone.

Files in the Bin in macOS.
Empty the Bin or select the deleted app and really delete it

If this does not work and the app is still in the background list, it is probably because not all of the software was removed.

Before you drag an app to the Bin to delete it, which is a simple and not very good method of removing an app, check with the developer to see if they provide a way to completely remove all software. There may be a menu in the app, a special command to type into Terminal, a cleanup tool, or instructions on how to remove all the left-overs.

AppCleaner software uninstaller for the Apple Mac.
Use AppCleaner to remove all traces of an app on the Mac

If the developer does not give any special instructions or tools to remove an app, AppCleaner is a brilliant free utility that does a great job of removing an app, its caches, stored data and other related files.

Don’t drag apps to the Bin, use AppCleaner, then open the Bin and delete the files it deleted or empty the Bin completely. Check System Settings and the app is gone from Allow in the Background.

Remove startup apps

After removing software, it is a good idea to check all the places where it might load and run in the background. Open System Settings > General > Login Items and if it appears at the top in the Open at Login list, select it and click the menus button below.

Open Finder, click the Go menu, hold down Option and click Library. Look in LaunchAgents and delete any item that refers to the app you deleted.

Auto-starting apps in macOS on the Apple Mac
Remove auto-starting apps in macOS

Go to /Library/LaunchAgents and /Library/LaunchDaemons and /Library/StartupItems and delete any item that refers to the app you deleted.

Restart the Mac afterwards and check the Allow in Background list. The app you wanted to remove should now be gone.

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