How to uninstall PostgreSQL from your macOS?

How to uninstall PostgreSQL from your macOS?

PostgreSQL, often referred to as Postgres, stands out as a powerful, open-source relational database management system. With an emphasis on extensibility and compliance to standards, PostgreSQL offers various features allowing users to handle both small and big data loads. From web applications to analytics and data warehousing, its usage is vast and varied. But as with all tools, there might come a time when you no longer need it on your macOS, perhaps due to upgrading, migrating to a different system, or simply freeing up resources.


PostgreSQL, initially launched in 1996, has grown to be one of the preferred choices for developers when it comes to relational databases. With its ability to handle workloads ranging from single-machine apps to massive internet-facing apps with several concurrent users, PostgreSQL’s flexibility is commendable. It offers various features such as advanced data types, full-text search, and more. However, there might be instances where you’d want to uninstall PostgreSQL. Reasons can range from system optimization, making space for newer versions, or switching to a different database management system altogether.


Before diving into the uninstallation process, it’s pivotal to ensure you have administrative access to your macOS. It’s also recommended to backup any important data and databases associated with PostgreSQL. This precaution ensures that in case of any mishap, your data remains safe.

Methods of Uninstallation

1. Using Homebrew (If Installed Via Homebrew)

What is Homebrew?
Homebrew is a popular package manager for macOS. Think of it as a tool that makes it simpler to install software on macOS. It manages dependencies, fetches required files, and configures the software, all from a single command in the terminal. Homebrew has grown in popularity due to its ease of use and wide range of available packages.

Steps to uninstall using Homebrew:

  • Open Terminal. This can be done by navigating to Applications > Utilities > Terminal or using Spotlight Search.
  • First, let’s ascertain if PostgreSQL was installed via Homebrew. Run the command: brew list | grep postgres
  • If the output shows postgresql, it confirms the installation through Homebrew.
  • Proceed to uninstall PostgreSQL by entering: brew uninstall postgresql
  • After this, it’s a good practice to look for and remove any additional leftover files associated with PostgreSQL.

2. Manual Uninstallation (If Not Installed via Homebrew)

Finding PostgreSQL on your system:

  • The which command can help you identify the location of PostgreSQL binaries. Simply type: which psql
  • Most often, the PostgreSQL installation directory can be found at /Library/PostgreSQL/.

Steps for manual removal:

  • Start by stopping the PostgreSQL service. Depending on how it was set up, you might be able to use the pg_ctl command or navigate to the PostgreSQL directory and use the provided scripts.
  • Once stopped, you can then delete the main PostgreSQL directory, typically found at /Library/PostgreSQL/. Ensure you have backups before doing so.
  • If a PostgreSQL user was created during the installation process, remember to remove it. You can manage users in macOS through System Preferences > Users & Groups.

Cleaning up startup items:
If you installed PostgreSQL to start automatically, it might have added itself to the startup items. On macOS, startup items are often managed through launchd. To clean these up:

  1. Open the Terminal.
  2. Run the following command to unload the PostgreSQL service:
sudo launchctl unload -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.edb.launchd.postgresql-X.Y.plist

Replace X.Y with your PostgreSQL version number.
3. Delete the .plist file itself:

sudo rm /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.edb.launchd.postgresql-X.Y.plist

Removing data directories and configuration files:
PostgreSQL’s data, by default, is stored in /usr/local/pgsql/data. To remove this:

sudo rm -rf /usr/local/pgsql/data

Also, you’d want to ensure that any additional configuration files or logs that may reside elsewhere are removed. Always be cautious when using the rm command with the -rf flag.

3. Using PostgreSQL Uninstallation Script (If Provided)

About PostgreSQL’s uninstallation script:
Some distributions of PostgreSQL, especially those provided by third-party vendors or enterprise versions, may include a dedicated uninstallation script. This script simplifies the removal process by automatically handling the cleaning of files, directories, and services.

Locating and running the script:
Usually, the uninstallation script is located in the same directory where PostgreSQL was installed. Navigate to this directory in your terminal and look for any file with ‘uninstall’ in its name. Once found, execute it with appropriate permissions:

sudo ./

Verifying complete removal:
After running the script, ensure all PostgreSQL processes are terminated and no residual files remain. You can do this by searching for PostgreSQL-related processes and files.

Post-Uninstallation Steps

Checking for any remaining files or directories related to PostgreSQL:
To ensure no residue is left behind:

sudo find / -name *postgres*

Inspect the results and remove any irrelevant files or directories.

Consideration for PATH variables (removing PostgreSQL paths):
If you added PostgreSQL’s binary path to your system’s PATH, you should remove it. Edit ~/.bash_profile or ~/.zshrc (depending on your shell) and remove any lines referring to PostgreSQL.

Reminder to remove any environment variables or aliases set for PostgreSQL:
Check your shell’s configuration files (like ~/.bashrc, ~/.bash_profile, or ~/.zshrc) for any environment variables or aliases related to PostgreSQL and remove them.

Common Issues & Troubleshooting

Unable to delete certain files or directories (due to permissions):
Sometimes, file permissions can prevent deletion. Use sudo with caution to force remove:

sudo rm -rf /path/to/problematic/directory_or_file

PostgreSQL services still running after uninstallation:
Use ps aux | grep postgres to identify any running PostgreSQL processes and kill them if necessary.

Database connections still active preventing uninstallation:
If other applications are still connected to the database, you might face issues. Ensure all connections are terminated before proceeding.

Solutions and workarounds for common problems:

  • Always backup your data before any major operations.
  • Restart your system, sometimes it helps in terminating lingering processes.
  • Consult PostgreSQL’s official documentation for specific error codes or messages.


Uninstalling software like PostgreSQL properly is crucial to maintain a clean and efficient system. Always remember to backup your data before undertaking such operations. Keeping your systems organized and free from residual files ensures optimal performance. If you’re looking to transition from PostgreSQL or need to uninstall for any reason, following the steps above will ensure a smooth process.

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