Tip: Uninstalling Software

Most Mac OS X applicaitons are essentially folders that contain all the resources required to run. As such, when users wish to remove an application, it's usually as easy as deleting the ".app" file in the Applications folder. However, this is not always

Most Mac OS X applicaitons are essentially folders that contain all the resources required to run. As such, when users wish to remove an application, it's usually as easy as deleting the ".app" file in the Applications folder. However, this is not always the case, because many applications will install resources throughout the filesystem. For instance, Apple's iLife suite places sound effects and loops in the user and global libraries. Removing the iLife applications will not get rid of these libraries. Additionally, aside from those created during installation, other resources may be created on the computer when the application is run.

For complex programs, those that are designed off old programming methods, or those that have been ported from other operating systems, developers may not be able to package applications in a single ".app" package; therefore, resources may be scattered throughout the user's account and system folders. Uninstalling these applications can sometimes be an involved process

Using Uninstallers

If an application comes with an uninstaller (e.g.: Apple's Safari 4 Public Beta) then it is always recommended to use the uninstaller. Running an uninstaller may leave some small files (ie: preferences) on the system, but the larger files that were installed should be removed. Uninstallers may be bundled with the application, or may be available from the software developer, so we recommended visiting the developer's website to check for uninstaller availability.

Using Receipts

Many times applications that install with an "installer" (especially those that have a ".pkg" which use the OS X installer) will create a receipt which contains information on what files were placed in various locations on the drive. There are third-party uninstaller applications that will read these receipts and attempt to remove the files, but these can cause problems in some situations and it's recommended to not avoid them. Users can instead manually manage installed applications using receipts, by opening them in "Pacifist" to see the folder heirarchy of installed files.

  1. Download Pacifist from this site: http://www.charlessoft.com/
  2. Open the receipt file in Pacifist. Receipts may be contained in either of the following two directories:
    • /Macintosh HD/Library/Receipts/
    • /username/Library/Receipts/
  3. 3. Expand the folder tree to see the locations of installed files.

Using the results from the receipt, users can manually locate and remove the files installed for an application. After all files referenced in the receipt are removed, users can delete the receipt file.

Standard Resource Locations:

Beyond the files referenced in the "Receipts" file, there are some standard locations users can check for application-specific resources. When applications run, many times files will be placed in the following folders, and as such these locations should be checked.

Applications Folders:

Users should first remove the application file or folder from the Applications folder. This folder can be anywhere, but there are two common locations.

  • /Macintosh HD/Applications/
  • /username/Applications/

Application Support Folders:

The folders in this directory contain files the application may use when running (ie: user-installed map files for games), and in some instances may get quite large. Users can safely remove the folders pertaining to the application being removed.

  • /Macintosh HD/Library/Application Support/
  • /username/Library/Application Support/

Application Preferences:

The preference files for the application being removed are small and can be ignored, but users can remove them if desired.

  • /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/
  • /username/Library/Preferences/

Resources
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