Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

So, I've been a Mac user for about seven or so months now. And one thing I've been wondering is how to fully remove an application..
I know a lot of times applications leave extra junk on your computer; and, deleting the app from the applications directory doesn't fully remove it. I'm just wondering how I can 'search for and destroy' the files the apps leave behind.

share|improve this question
1  
From experience, the most common place apps leave files behind in is ~/Library/Application Support/AppName or /Library/Application Support. Preference files are stored in ~/Library/Preferences. –  Vervious Feb 26 '12 at 5:55

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

If the app is a driver or some kind of system hack, then you better read it's documentation or contact it's tech support team to find out how to uninstall it.

For most apps, simply quit the app and drag it to the trash.

Most mac apps won't create much extra "junk". It will leave a few configuration files/etc around, but they're usually really small and you want them to be there, incase you ever decide to install the app again.

If you really want to get rid of it all:

Open Finder, and bring up the Go menu. Hold down the Option key to make the Library menu item visible, and click on it.

Type the name of the app into the top right search box (eg: "TextMate"), and when it suggests "Filename contains: textmate" in the menu, click on that. By default, it will search "This Mac", click on "Library" to only search the folder you were in before doing the search.

Make sure everything you see is actually related to the app, and move it to the trash. When a file is selected, the "Path Bar" at the bottom of the window will tell you where the file is, which can help figure out what app it belongs to.

Be careful, modifying anything in a Library folder can screw up your system. Don't do it at all unless you have a backup to restore to incase something goes wrong. It's usually pretty safe though, most files in the Library folder in your user's home folder will be re-created as necessary, if something important has been deleted.

You might also want to search your entire system instead of just ~/Library, but if the app installs anything elsewhere in the system then that's a pretty good sign that you should be checking the documentation for the correct uninstall procedure and/or contacting their tech support, to make sure it is actually safe to delete those files without screwing up your system.

If you are the type of person who regularly installs random apps from the internet and then deletes most of them... then you should either test these apps in a virtual machine or at least using the "Guest" account feature (where pretty much everything is deleted as soon as you log out).

share|improve this answer

If you buy the app from the Mac App Store, you can completely uninstall it using Launchpad. Click and hold to start the apps wiggling, then hit the X by the app you want to delete.

For apps installed outside of the Mac App Store, I use AppZapper.

share|improve this answer
    
What if I've already deleted the app, and I just want to get the extra junk off? –  James Litewski Feb 25 '12 at 23:50
1  
Probably the most straightforward way would be to reinstall and then use AppZapper. –  Jay Thompson Feb 26 '12 at 0:38
2  
If the software was installed via a .pkg or .mpkg, you can use the terminal command pkgutil. Use pkgutil --pkgs to list all installed packages, then use pkgutil --files com.example.pkg to see where the files were installed. You can then trash those files. –  Jay Thompson Feb 26 '12 at 0:42
    
I wouldn't really recommend doing it that way though unless you feel confident about making changes in system folders. –  Jay Thompson Feb 26 '12 at 0:47
    
Actually, using Launchpad to remove applications only trashes the payload (.app folder) and doesn't remove preference files or any other clutter that may have been installed. It's identical to dragging the app to the trash. –  cksum Feb 26 '12 at 2:17

I use AppTrap. I it is free and installs a pref pane. Whenever you move an app to the trash, it asks you if you want to move all files associated with it to the trash. It works really well, and I highly recommend it.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
Will it find files that are associated with apps I've already uninstalled? –  James Litewski Feb 25 '12 at 23:59
    
No, the app needs to be installed then deleted while AppTrap is active. But, you might try reinstalling the app and then deleting it again. –  afragen Feb 26 '12 at 0:04
    
@james I'm pretty sure that it doesn't. If you have something that you deleted before you install AppTrap, it won't catch it. –  daviesgeek Feb 26 '12 at 0:04

01) You can manually un-install your application(s), but that requires solid knowledge of your file system for once and depending on the software it sometimes does not make much sense, since some software is deeply nested within your system. (also sometimes requires root access.

02) you can use software of course, that actually enables you to see where every single file related to your installed application is located on your system. That makes sense for beginners and even advanced users.

From experience i can suggest the following:

CleanApp or TrashMe (recommended)

iTrash or AppDelete or AppCleaner (i can't say much about them)

some are available for trial, so you might want to test them, before you purchase!!

share|improve this answer
    
However reviews suggest that apps do not do 2 e.g. macworld.com/article/151403/2010/05/… and rixstep.com/4/2/20100529,06.shtml –  Mark Feb 26 '12 at 11:26

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.