What happens to OSX when you install a program?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by donmei, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. donmei macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    #1
    Hi all. I'm an IT savvy person who is new to Macs.

    My natural inclination is to never install any software that I dont intend to keep, on a windows machine. As most of you know, when you un-instal an app in Win, it isnt really gone.

    Sure the files may be gone, but often the directory structure is left behind, but worst of all is the bloated registry that remains.

    So, my question is this. What happens when you install an app on OSX?

    Is it purely a file transfer? or are the equivalent to DLLs changed and registry entries created?

    Is there a difference between the way that something like Firefox installs and MS Office 2008?

    If you uninstall an app, what is left behind?

    As an example, remember that the old windows 3.1 didnt have a registry. You could just copy the files and folders into a root folder, find the .exe file and run it.

    Don
    p.s. I've recently discovered VMWare Workstation for Windows. Its great because I can install trial apps to my hearts content on the vm. Then rather than uninstalling, I just delete the vm and use a virgin one.
     
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    The preferences in [home dir]/Library/Preferences and possibly a folder/files in [home dir]/Library/Application Support/ or /Library/Application Support

    If you care you can use AppZapper or another utility to wipe them.
     
  3. kolax macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #3
    On the Mac there is no registry, so if you want to delete an app, just delete it.

    Some applications come with dedicated installers - but it isn't necessary to remove the application with the uninstaller, you can just delete the application.

    Any bits left behind will just be folders that contain maybe 2KB's of data.
     
  4. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    Oct 2, 2006
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    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #4
    Mac OS X is quite different from Windows in this regard. I have never worried about installing applications on my Mac to try out. Most of the time all that is left is a few preference files which make no difference to the running of the computer. Plus there is nothing like the registry in Mac OS X, that is purely a Windows thing.

    The vast majority of applications are installed by drag and drop on OS X with a few requiring an installer for either ease of use or because they need to add a few extra files to the system. None of which I've worried about.
     
  5. HLdan macrumors 603

    HLdan

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    Aug 22, 2007
    #5
    Also to add, when you install an app into OS X the program is self-contained inside of it's own folder so that's why it's an easy drag and drop installation and an easy drag and drop into the Trash. I'll bet that's a feature no switcher will complain that Mac OS X does.;)
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    #6
    Oh but they do complain about it sometimes, they want a "proper" uninstaller.
     
  7. wesg macrumors regular

    wesg

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    Jan 2, 2008
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    #7
    This truly is one of the greatest advantages of OS X when compared to Windows, in my mind. Software like MusicMatch on my Dell is embedded in the system, and is nearly impossible to remove, whereas something like Adium so easy to remove on my MacBook.

    At the same time, i've found that Photoshop completely destroys this convenience. I suppose it should be expected, but it sprinkles support files all over the hard drive that the only way to transfer the program is to do a clone.
     
  8. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

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    Nov 26, 2003
    #8
    Not to mention the two (yes two!) versions of Opera you get (one for Photoshop, one for Bridge).
     
  9. Sorkvild macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    #9
    Yep, the most common places applications leave files are your preferences folder and Application Support folder. Less common ones are your Documents folder (Microsoft Office creates one). Browsers typically leave stuff in the aptly named Caches folder, and the Metadata folder inside of it. Lastly, I've found that Camino and Firefox (and probably other Mozilla apps) create a folder and file called Global.regs in your computer's Library folder, not your home Library folder.
     
  10. spooky mulder macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2008
    Location:
    ca
    #10
    hey just wondering, how do you remove the opera that comes with photoshop?
     
  11. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #11
    Don't hijack a thread.

    and I would note that it is fine to ignore any files left behind by an application after it is deleted. I always have a hard time just letting those files sit there, but I'm learning to live with them. (they're not hurting anyone)
     
  12. spooky mulder macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2008
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    ca
    #12
     
  13. Quillz macrumors 65816

    Quillz

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    Jan 6, 2006
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #14
    Then use AppZapper. All that a "proper uninstall" does is remove the application + preference files. But sometimes, you want to leave those files behind, such as with Firefox. That way, if you reinstall the app, you can be right back where you were, with all your settings left intact.

    Also note that you can accomplish the same thing that AppZapper does for free using Spotlight and searching system files.
     
  14. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #15
    Or use Migration Assistant. Most apps you can safely delete, and while there are some prefs and little things here and there, it's nothing to be worried about. Nowhere near the way it is on Windows. Sometimes uninstallers that come with the programs are needed to get rid of most things, but sometimes they're only there as a convenience. With something like CS, you could just delete the files manually, maybe some support files, and it wouldn't hurt anything, but the uninstaller does a good job of things.

    As for Opera, just open something with it, click and hold in the Dock to show in Finder, then close and delete.
     
  15. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    #16
    At risk of “hijacking” the thread (even though the original question has been answered many times over):

    The two copies are in:

    /Applications/Adobe Bridge CS3/Bridge CS3.app/Contents/MacOS (24.7 MB)

    &&


    /Applications/Adobe Device Central CS3/Device Central.app/Contents/MacOS/Required (43.6 MB)

    For new users to the Mac: If you don't already know, “Applications” on Mac OS X are just folders, Right clicking will give an option to “Show Package Contents”.

    They will be there for a reason, as I never use Bridge or Device Central, I'm not worried about removing them, having said that I haven't removed either version: so proceed with caution.
     
  16. spooky mulder macrumors regular

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    Apr 5, 2008
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    ca
    #17
    hey cool, i checked package contents of ps but not br... thanks
     
  17. sine-nomine macrumors regular

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    Jul 25, 2007
    Location:
    Finer stores everywhere.
    #18
    Lol, meanwhile there's a MacBook that nobody in my department wanted that passed from instructor to instructor until it finally ended up with my former advisor, who had it under a pile of crap unused because he instead got one of those cheap blue Compaq laptops. The reason? He didn't like that there was no 'real way' to install software in OS X and just didn't trust it. So instead he logs into our cluster via Putty in Windows.
     
  18. elppa macrumors 68040

    elppa

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2003
    #19
    What a muppet.

    I love stories where the technologically “clued up” actually turn out to be the technologically clueless.
     
  19. Erwin-Br macrumors 6502a

    Erwin-Br

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    Feb 6, 2008
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #20
    That is not a Windows problem. It's sloppy programming/packaging from the developer of the application. I'm a certified Microsoft Solution Developer myself, and I always, ALWAYS, make sure the uninstaller for my applications removes registry files that I have created.

    There's a lot of crap developed for the Windows platform, that's true.

    --Erwin
     
  20. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    Jul 17, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    #21
    Sloppy programming maybe a disgrace, but it is also a given. The real problem is that the Registry is a flawed concept. Microsoft should not have designed an OS that requires everything to be of the highest quality for then to work properly.
     
  21. donmei thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    #22
    erwin-br
    It IS a windows problem. Because the OS ALLOWS sloppy installers and deinstallers to do it harm.

    That is a VERY basic architectural shortcoming of the OS.

    When you test software, do you do exception testing? Of course you do. you assume that people will do things they arent supposed to do. So you build your software to be tolerant of that.

    Windows be held to the same standards that you hold your applications to.

    Don
     
  22. Mr Black macrumors member

    Mr Black

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    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #23
    Occasionally an app may install a framework into ~/Library/Frameworks/ but other than .plist files really uninstalling is just as simple as deleting the application.
     
  23. Mr Black macrumors member

    Mr Black

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    #24
    You can find them in
    /Applications/Adobe Device Central CS3/Device Central.app/Contents/MacOS/Required & /Applications/Adobe Bridge CS3/Bridge CS3.app/Contents/MacOS and just delete if you choose. It won't do bridge or PS any harm.
     
  24. Virgil-TB2 macrumors 65816

    Virgil-TB2

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    #25
    Also, when you first double-click a Mac app, it's *supposed* to create all the necessary plist files and preferences on the fly. The reason this is good is that if a program is hosed or otherwise misbehaving, deleting the library files will force the app to recreate them with al the default settings meaning that the program will now start (usually).
     

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