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drdudj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 7, 2021
149
131
Oregon
Being new to mac, after 26 years on windows, i want to understand how the uninstall process works when uninstalling a 3rd party program. with windows there is always a "uninstall" for the program, but with most programs on mac you just go to Finder/Applications, find the program in the list, right click and send it to the trash. i understand that if there is a folder related to that program that you can then open the folder and there should be a uninstall program inside. but how is it that if there is not a folder and you just send it to the trash that mac is able to totally delete all of the files related to that program, and do it so quickly? Or, are there remnants of the program still on the drive, and if so, how do you go about getting rid of the left over garbage? i ask this because i had been reading some of the posts here about Edge being slightly better than Safari, and decided to try Edge. i don't like the UI of Edge, and so removed it via Finder/Applications, and that got me to wondering if all of the files were removed for Edge?
 

AndyMacAndMic

macrumors 65816
May 25, 2017
1,076
1,621
Western Europe
Being new to mac, after 26 years on windows, i want to understand how the uninstall process works when uninstalling a 3rd party program. with windows there is always a "uninstall" for the program, but with most programs on mac you just go to Finder/Applications, find the program in the list, right click and send it to the trash. i understand that if there is a folder related to that program that you can then open the folder and there should be a uninstall program inside. but how is it that if there is not a folder and you just send it to the trash that mac is able to totally delete all of the files related to that program, and do it so quickly? Or, are there remnants of the program still on the drive, and if so, how do you go about getting rid of the left over garbage? i ask this because i had been reading some of the posts here about Edge being slightly better than Safari, and decided to try Edge. i don't like the UI of Edge, and so removed it via Finder/Applications, and that got me to wondering if all of the files were removed for Edge?

You are not the first to ask. Below are some links on MacRumors alone asking the same question. I stopped after the first 6, but there are many more where these came from. Just search for 'uninstalling programs' within MacRumors itself and you will find all the answers you need.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-uninstall-programs.2291336/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-do-i-uninstall-an-app-its-accessory-files.2174203/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-do-i-uninstall-a-program-not-in-application-folder.1940877/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/uninstall-program.1737491/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/deleting-uninstalling-mac-programs-and-apps.1762497/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/uninstalling-programs.1691188/

But basically: Yes on a Mac you uninstall programs bij putting them in the trash bin. The Mac OS does not have a registry like Windows, but knows in what folders programs are installed and deletes them from there. It happens (just as in Windows) that some files are left over. On a Mac there are programs available to clean those leftovers, but I don't have any experience with those because I never use them myself.
Lots of people on this forum don't recommend those cleanup apps and lots do. That's for you to decide ;)
 
Last edited:

drdudj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 7, 2021
149
131
Oregon
Delete (double posted by accident).
You are not the first to ask. Below are some links on MacRumors alone asking the same question. I stopped after the first 6, but there are many more where these came from. Just search for 'uninstalling programs' within MacRumors itself and you will find all the answers you need.

https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-uninstall-programs.2291336/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-do-i-uninstall-an-app-its-accessory-files.2174203/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-do-i-uninstall-a-program-not-in-application-folder.1940877/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/uninstall-program.1737491/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/deleting-uninstalling-mac-programs-and-apps.1762497/
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/uninstalling-programs.1691188/

But basically: Yes on a Mac you uninstall programs bij putting them in the trash bin. The Mac OS does not have a registry like Windows, but knows in what folders programs are installed and deletes them from there. It happens (just as in Windows) that some files are left over. On a Mac there are programs available to clean those leftovers, but I don't have any experience with those because I never use them myself.
Lots of people on this forum don't recommend those cleanup apps and lots do. That's for you to decide ;)
thanks for the response/info. i too don't like using another program to get rid of another program, then you have yet another program, and how do you know you got rid of all the files of that program that you used to get rid of the other program? i'm good, thanks again.
 

gilby101

macrumors 68030
Mar 17, 2010
2,646
1,414
Tasmania
macOS is rubbish when it comes to uninstalling programs. There is no equivalent to Windows uninstall or the registry. Apps are free to splatter files wherever they like, though there are some conventions. Deleting an app from /Applications will not remove any of the files created by the app.

To properly uninstall an app you need too search for all the files it has created - mostly they are in ~/Library, but not always.

To uninstall I use Remove-It (used to be called iTrash). There are other similar better/worse utilities. They all attempt to search for the extra files you might want to delete.

For your Edge, you need to re-install and then use Remove-It (or whatever you prefer) to properly delete Edge and the extra files it has added.
 

Blowback

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2018
1,299
735
VA
Being new to mac, after 26 years on windows, i want to understand how the uninstall process works when uninstalling a 3rd party program. with windows there is always a "uninstall" for the program, but with most programs on mac you just go to Finder/Applications, find the program in the list, right click and send it to the trash. i understand that if there is a folder related to that program that you can then open the folder and there should be a uninstall program inside. but how is it that if there is not a folder and you just send it to the trash that mac is able to totally delete all of the files related to that program, and do it so quickly? Or, are there remnants of the program still on the drive, and if so, how do you go about getting rid of the left over garbage? i ask this because i had been reading some of the posts here about Edge being slightly better than Safari, and decided to try Edge. i don't like the UI of Edge, and so removed it via Finder/Applications, and that got me to wondering if all of the files were removed for Edge?
Not always available but probably a first try: go to the site of the Application and look for its un-installer. I think this is always a good first step though lots of applications won't have one. Create an 'Un-installer' folder for future installs so if an app has one or instructions there-of you'll have all in a single and readily accessible spot.
 

drdudj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 7, 2021
149
131
Oregon
back to the question of how to get rid of left over files that might not have been removed when uninstalling/moving to trash a 3rd party program. being new to mac, i would like a basic step by step of where to go (terminal?) to look for these files, and how to delete them. this is totally different than my 26 year experience with the windows registry.
thanxz in advance~
 

javanate

macrumors regular
May 13, 2005
158
563
back to the question of how to get rid of left over files that might not have been removed when uninstalling/moving to trash a 3rd party program. being new to mac, i would like a basic step by step of where to go (terminal?) to look for these files, and how to delete them. this is totally different than my 26 year experience with the windows registry.
thanxz in advance~

Step by step, the same basic process goes for most applications. Not all applications create all these folders, but you can always look or search. For instance, you could search "Edge" and find all these too.
 

drdudj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 7, 2021
149
131
Oregon

Step by step, the same basic process goes for most applications. Not all applications create all these folders, but you can always look or search. For instance, you could search "Edge" and find all these too.
much thanxz, that's what i was looking for!
 

960design

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2012
3,710
1,578
Destin, FL
macOS is rubbish when it comes to uninstalling programs.
I feel the exact opposite. The files left over are most often configuration files, typically less than 1kb.
Windows registry is rubbish and will leave old keys behind to break the application the next time you reinstall.

Windows = installer
Mac = bundler

Me = the creator of many, many MSI and older setup.exe packages in the long ago past of my younger years.
So many easter eggs left on so many 386/486 systems.
 
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macsound1

macrumors 6502a
May 17, 2007
829
857
SF Bay Area
I use an app called AppCleaner when I want to remove extraneous files from an app.

The only reason I use it is because I've been using Migration Assistant since 2004 and when there are old versions of non-mac native apps, like Office and Adobe, they get grumpy when you try and install the new version without getting rid of the old version.

Also with those apps, they need to be activated and I have often used the activation from my work and then when I change jobs I get the new version but it only wants to login with the existing login with the old version.

Using AppCleaner helps get rid of those pesky login entries wherever Adobe and MSFT saves them so I can actually have a fresh install.
Even their uninstallers will intentionally leave some of those files behind, kind of like cookies, so when you reinstall they know you had the old version previously.

And using AppCleaner, when you drag the app you want to uninstall into the window, it searches and shows you all the files its going to delete and where on your drive they are located, if you happen to be skeptical in what it's doing.
 
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Honza1

macrumors 6502a
Nov 30, 2013
933
433
US
AppCleaner is what I use also. It gets lot of the stuff.
macOS is not rubbish - it is realy much better than Windows. In Windows, while you may think you uninstalled all visible files and registry records, how many libraries are always left in WinSxS folder is unknown, since there is no way to know how many programs are still using any specific library. So they are left there and Windows system folder is growing, and growing... This does not happen with macOS and normal apps.
In MacOS there are rules and most developers follow them. They have to or Migration Assistant would not work. And that works shockingly well...
There are few Library locations and that is where other (non-app) files should be.
If you delete application using Trashcan, these are left. Good for reinstallation, bad for space.
There is one thing, which - as far as I can say - no generic uninstallation program can get : kexts. Kernel extensions seem to be always left behind, unless you have uninstallation program from developer. Now, kexts are being deprecated and will not be supported in future versions of macOS. Which causes lots of troubles, but from point of view of system stability and robustness, this is great news.
 
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