Uninstalling software on OSX? How is it done?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MattFromJax, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. MattFromJax macrumors newbie

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    Mar 25, 2009
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    Jacksonville, FL
    #1
    I heard once that simply dragging the app to the trash does it, but I know better. AppCleaner and other software will remove some of the associated files. When I first got the computer I downloaded a piece of trialware and installed it. I didn’t like it and found that the email basket of mail did a better job for free then this personal organizer did. After doubting that a third-party uninstaller could work properly without staying resident in memory and monitoring installation, I tested it by reinstalling my trial. Surprise, AppCleaner did not fully uninstall the software as data on my system must have been modified at installation and not returned.

    Can someone point me toward a solution that completely removes software? Or at least describe the architectural system employed to scatter this data on my computer?
     
  2. jamesarm97 macrumors 65816

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    Sep 29, 2006
    #2
    I have used AppDelete and it seems to do a pretty good job of it.

    - James
     
  3. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

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    Dec 16, 2005
    #3
    I use App Zapper, but unfortunately some Apps are a horribly worm like and get into everything. I could only suggest looking on the developers site and seeing if they have a removal tool or instructions.
     
  4. Deadeye* macrumors newbie

    Deadeye*

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  5. MattFromJax thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 25, 2009
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    #5
    Worm-like software

    I’m getting that vibe that things are not as simple as they could be. I find it intolerable that I am not able to remove all traces of a piece of software from a machine that I own. Being a new Apple user, there is a great deal of software that I want to try and tinker with but I am afraid that by the time I settle on what stuff I am going to use, I will have a cluttered and obnoxious system.
     
  6. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #6
    The files that Mac applications leave behind are not a big deal. It just leaves the applications settings behind.
     
  7. MattFromJax thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    The best I have gathered is that plist files are kind of like registry entries?

    What I am most concerned about is the other... burried and hidden files. Where are they? An example is... if an application installs a font to determine when a trial starts, done enough times, your font list would grow and you would see a performance detriment. Sounds trivial but this was done back in Windows 3.11 days.

     
  8. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

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    #8
    Somewhat, but they are a lot more efficient. It is more or less just an XML file that stores preferences.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_list
     
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    You have a Mac, not Windows for Workgroups. In your example of a font, fonts are stored in of your Fonts folders. The Font Book can easily disable the non-System fonts that you don't want.
     
  10. Sorkvild macrumors 6502

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    Feb 23, 2007
    #10
    Over the years I've found several different places various software installs stuff in.

    Obviously the Application folder is the first place to start and delete whatever application you don't want anymore. Then there is most likely a plist file located in /[your user folder]/Library/Preferences. Also take a look in the Application Support folder in that same Library folder for other files associated with the application. Other places I have found things are the Caches folder, and the Metadata folder (particularly if you install different web browsers).

    Also the Receipts folder keeps track of stuff you install, but be EXTREMELY careful about what you delete in there! Important files relating to Software Update and other OS updates are stored in there. I would suggest just staying away from it.

    You're right though, things like Adobe's Creative Suite or Flash Player and similar apps can put stuff all over, but unlike Windows it has absolutely no effect on the performance of your mac. If you just toss it from the Application folder you're set.
     
  11. MattFromJax thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses. I was just a bit concerned on conflicting info about tossing apps. Also did some reading on plist's and they seem to make way more since.
     
  12. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #12
    Some seem to enjoy making their lives more complicated. I always wonder what they are doing owning a Mac!

    Dragging an unwanted application to the Trash is the accepted way of uninstalling it. One exception: if the application used an installer which requested your password, it probably installed a kernel extension or a startup item. In this case, it's best to run the installer to uninstall.
     
  13. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

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    #13
    Indeed.

    It seems as if long-term Windows use really does brainwash some people into thinking that nothing can be simple or trusted.

    Then when they start using Macs… they can't let go of the Windows mindset.
     
  14. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    Old Windows-using habits are hard to break, but that's not the only reason why many volunteer to make their lives more complicated. Others are compulsive about keeping their Macs "clean." They are the ones who also recommend reinstalling OSX on a regular basis, not because it's actually necessary, but because it makes them feel better.
     
  15. SHADO macrumors 6502a

    SHADO

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    #15
    You can also use an app like EasyFind to search for all files associated with a particular app. Then you can just drag them to the trash.
     
  16. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #16
    OSX has no registry. Small files such as preferences left behind are not a problem and do not slow down the system at all, unlike windows.

    FYI
    AppZapper is last updated in 2006
    AppCleaner is last updated more recently, and is what you should use if you want to get rid of the inconsequential files.

    http://macupdate.com/search.php?keywords=uninstall&os=mac

    It's TRUE for microsoft windows. But fortunately not useful for OSX.
     
  17. jeremybuff macrumors regular

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    Mar 3, 2009
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    Asheville, NC
    #17
    You know what it is with Windows-to-Mac users? It's so simple that it's actually complicated. Damn windows really screws with people and instills obnoxious, un-intuitive ways of doing things into their brains.

    Like was said above, use AppCleaner not AppZapper or anything else. AppCleaner is the best, it even has an option to automatically search for files when you drag apps to the trash. That setting is not enabled by default, so you may want to do that.

    Searching is also a good way to find leftovers, though I have never found anything that AppCleaner didn't already find. Once you get used to simply throwing apps in the trash can, you'll realize there really isn't a way to "uninstall" an app, with the exception of some apps that come with an installer.
     
  18. DELTAsnake macrumors 6502

    DELTAsnake

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    Jul 18, 2008
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    Australia
    #18
    So as someone that doesn't want bits of unwanted applications left behind taking up drive space that could be better used for my iTunes library or videos, should I just install one of those apps mentioned at the start of thread and let it take care of everything for me?
     
  19. Sorkvild macrumors 6502

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    Feb 23, 2007
    #19
    Unless you're at the point of running out of drive space there's really no need. With bigger hard drives becoming the norm nowadays, those files take up so little space it's negligible.
     
  20. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #20
    Wait, isn't this contradictory advice? These third-party tools simply are not necessary, even you have said as much -- so why complicate your life?
     
  21. jeremybuff macrumors regular

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    #21
    In most cases they are not necessary, but apps that have installers certainly do leave traces behind. I do not think removing them is "necessary", for they are not large and are usually just settings files, but nonetheless AppCleaner will remove them.
     
  22. Saladinos macrumors 68000

    Saladinos

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    Feb 26, 2008
    #22
    Agree. I love not having to care about how the computer works. With windows, you have to know a reasonable amount about how it works to use it. With OSX, you don't need to care.

    I love it.
     

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