Uninstalling software on the Mac is a nightmare!!!

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by chelsel, Aug 25, 2007.

  1. chelsel macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2007
    Wow... I thought switching to the Mac would be easy coming from Windows... but the Mac doesn't even have the Windows Add/Remove Program feature.

    So far it seems I have to hunt down a ton of pieces to every Mac program I install when I'm done using it. Don't get me wrong, there are misbehaved Windows programs that leave tracks around your system but nothing as bad as I've seen so far on the Mac.

    Tell me there's an easier way to uninstall software than:

    Delete .app from Applications Folder
    Search Application Support and remove anything with the same name
    Search Preferences and the rest of Library and remove anything with the same name
    Remove any Document directories created by some programs
    Hope no system preferences were altered...

    Seems like the Mac gets cluttered a lot worse than a Windows machine would. I haven't decided to switch back to Windows but this is a huge strike for the Mac. Can anyone recommend 3rd party programs to fix this obvious oversight.

  2. mac000 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2005
    download app zapper, there is also other uninstalling programs try macupdate.com
  3. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    you shouldn't have to delete anything other than the app from your applications folder, unless you are having issues with that app. the other files are small, and rather insignificant and won't harm your system just sitting there.
  4. jczubach macrumors 6502


    May 15, 2007
    ummm, remove offending app to trash, spotlight search offensive app. & remove. or go 3rd party, with appdelete or something like it and move icon into said app. simplicity.
  5. chatoyer macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2006
    Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand
    Heh - don't give up hope just yet, Cliff! :) There are a few programs out there that apparently do well as uninstallers - search around these forums and you'll get plenty of views.

    Personally, the way I do it is not far off from what you describe. I use Path Finder (try that app - you might like it for other reasons) to search out other files once I've simply dragged the application to the trash. In my experience (quite a few programs tried and discarded since making the switch from Windoze in Nov 2006), not a huge amount of detritus left over.

    The one saving grace? Unlike Windoze, I don't have to worry about a registry that is often never the same even after using add/remove programs.
  6. jvencius macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2007
    That's what I have and it works like a champ. It's well worth the money to support the developers who wrote it.:D
  7. benlee macrumors 65816


    Mar 4, 2007
    Just deleting the .app file is usually sufficient. The other files are so small in size and usually do not constitute a threat to overall system stability. There is a third party app that automates finding the files associated with the program. It is called appzapper. I'm sure there are other but this is what I use when I feel the need. It is free for the first 3 uses. I find it funny that you would consider switching back to windows because of the lack of this feature. The mac is made to be easy to use. I remember when i first used a windows I thought i could just delete the program (boy was I wrong). This way has its advantages because it saves non-computer people from ruining their systems. Hopefully leopard will an "app-zapping" feature in leopard but it is not necessary.

  8. todd2000 macrumors 68000

    Nov 14, 2005
    Danville, VA
    Wow Drama Queen much?! :) It's not an "obvious oversight" your making a mountain out of the perverbial mole hill. Drag the applicaton to the trash, and do a spotlight search for any remaing files, and delete them. Thats it. Even if you don't delete the preferences it wont make much of a difference. As far as system prefs being altered, I've yet to install a 3rd party app that altered my system prefs. Some will install a prefrence pane, but that will show up in a spotlight search so you can delete it.

    That being said, if you wan't an automated app to do it I suggest App Delete (I use it myself) http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/31123 just put it in your dock next to the trash can, drag the app you want to delete onto it, and it automatically finds all the associated fiels, and put them in the trash, so you can review them before you empty the trash.

    EDIT: DAMM I type slow 6 people responded while I was typing :)
  9. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    You came in with the Windows attitude, and that's where you go wrong. Step 1 is: Remove the application from the application folder. All the other steps are completely unnecessary. For example, preferences are nothing like the Windows registry; a preference is just a file in the preferences directory, and cannot do any harm whatsoever. There is no need to remove it.

    The problem is not whether any files are hard to remove, the problem is whether you worry about them or not.
  10. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    AppZapper or CleanApp will do the job ... :)

    I do wish that Apple had included something to get rid of all traces of an unwanted App .. :(
  11. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005

    Are you the type of guy that manually cleans out every key manually out of the Windows registry after an uninstall? Pretty much every Windows app Ive used left keys with settings behind. Its the same thing with OS X application pref files. Just a lot easier for you to see in OS X as they're files that show up in Spotlight.
  12. reubs macrumors 68000

    Jun 22, 2006
    I use uApp which is like a freeware version of AppZapper. No doubt AppZapper is slick and fun to use, but since uApp is free and I rarely delete apps, it's the one for me.
  13. SMM macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2006
    Tiger Mountain - WA State
    If you are struggling with this, think in terms of Windows 3.1. Add/Remove programs was a required function after Win 95 came out, and with it, the invention from hell - the registry. At that point, it was not longer possible for most users to remove programs. In fact, it was dangerous to do so.

    Unix has never had this problem. It has a known, accepted structure, which is universally adhered to. As the others wrote, you are really making more of this than you have to. Not your fault. If you have grown-up in a Windows environment, this has been an issue for years uncounted.
  14. CLuv macrumors 6502

    Apr 9, 2007
    Northern VA, USA

    AppDelete is a great and free program. Although just dragging a program from your applications is first hard to understand coming from the use of Windows for years, but it's truly very easy and reassuring knowing it's not like having to deal with registry issues. When it's out, it's gone. Granted the small pref files stick around, but they are small and have no effect on your use of OS X and does not take up much space at all on your drive.

    Hope that helps.
  15. chelsel thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 24, 2007
    Actually, as a software developer I keep a pretty clean system, Windows or Mac. In my experience this helps system stability. And yes, I've manually edited the registry to completely remove some applications. The problem with relying on Spotlight to find applications is that you have to trust that the developer used a consistent name for all the files in their application.

    appDelete looks promising but I don't know how much I can trust the program... I'll give it a try... I'd really rather just see a lightweight install/uninstall framework for the Mac.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  16. Rom Rim macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Woof woof.
    You have no registry. What are you complaining about? At least you know where the components are located. On Windows you know NOTHING. Have you ever looked inside the registry? Really? It's bigger and more complex than your HDD on Mac OS X. And they never tell you where they hide things. On Mac OS X there are only so many places they can hide (if you don't give them your password) and you can find them. On Windows you're SOL. :apple:
  17. Rom Rim macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Woof woof.
    Yes they are small. They don't hurt. Just let them stay there. :apple:
  18. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    Lol...what!? Thats one of the best features of Mac OS....just drag the app into the trash, and delete!
  19. Rom Rim macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Woof woof.
    Spotlight can find anything. It uses metadata.
  20. erikistired macrumors 6502


    Apr 21, 2006
    ugh, i can't imagine that framework doing anything but causing problems. keep the mac simple for me, thanks.
  21. iMacBook macrumors 6502a


    Jun 14, 2007
    Down by the bay.
    I second that. I love the little zap noise it makes. :)
  22. ingenious macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2004
    Washington, D.C.
  23. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    Unfortunately doing this doesn't get rid of all of it ..... :(

    I know Spotlight can find the rest but it takes time. I wish that Apple had something similar to the Add / Remove programs that is available to Windows users.
  24. Killyp macrumors 68040


    Jun 14, 2006
    But the point we're trying to make is that this isn't Windows, it's OS X which is UNIX based.

    In Windows, when you 'uninstall' a program, it leaves loads of registry keys behind which can pretty quickly slow down the computer. However there is no registry in OS X, it's simply a load of files inside folders. These folders don't cause any 'slow downs' or 'conflicts', and hence they can stay there as they don't affect the OS in ANY way and take up next to no space.

Share This Page