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I come from a PC background... every time I want to uninstall an application, I must use add/remove programs. On the mac, you can simply run a .app file from wherever you want, and many say that the way to uninstall them is simply delete this .app file.

However, I have noticed that many apps save files in the ~/Library/Application Support/ directory. So when I delete the .app file, all those files are retained in the Application Support directory. Isn't there any way to uninstall an app and have it remove everything it installed on my hard-drive?

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Just so you know, files there are supposed to be inert, and will not break anything should they stay in place. –  zneak Aug 25 '10 at 2:37
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@zneak: Thanks for the explanation. It's still annoying that it takes up space on the hard-drive. –  Senseful Aug 25 '10 at 4:00
    
The risk of tracking all files made by an app leads to the potential to delete files you made and need when the uninstaller runs. The real question in my mind, is under what circumstances would one care to clean programs completely and waste the time, effort and resources to reclaim non-executable files once you have deleted the application bundle itself? –  bmike Mar 15 '12 at 16:02
    
@bmike: take for example an application like evernote which may store gigabytes of information in the "Application Support" folder. If someone no longer uses that application, that space could be very valuable to them. –  Senseful Mar 16 '12 at 2:20
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@bmike: Oh, I think I get it now. When you say "uninstaller," I believe you are referring to an app such as AppCleaner. I thought you were referring to an uninstaller that comes with an app; and that that uninstaller would sometimes need those auto-deleted plist files during the uninstallation process. Sorry for the confusion. –  Senseful Mar 16 '12 at 2:39

7 Answers 7

up vote 17 down vote accepted

if you want do it free you can use:

AppCleaner

and if you want to pay a little and gain some extra features use:

CleanApp

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One thing AppCleaner doesn't do is remove options in the System Preferences. For example, if the application you want to uninstall has an icon under "Other" in the System Preferences, it will not be removed by AppCleaner. You would have to right click the icon in System Preferences and chose to remove it. –  Senseful Jan 28 '11 at 23:30
    
@sens I myself use cleanApp , but it's a use full information from AppCleaner TanX man. –  Am1rr3zA Jan 28 '11 at 23:36
    
Another thing not removed by AppCleaner is Login Items under System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items. –  Senseful Jan 29 '11 at 6:15
    
AppCleaner link is outdate, use this one: freemacsoft.net –  Andrei Jul 21 '11 at 20:24
    
@Andrei TnaX for info. –  Am1rr3zA Jul 22 '11 at 7:49

Please note that apps installed from the App Store do not require an uninstaller for complete cleanup. To remove them:

  • Open Launchpad and find the app's icon in there.
  • Hold down the Option key.
  • Click the "×" button on the app you want to remove and confirm.

Apps not installed from the store will not have a "×" button, and may require manual intervention (as per the other answers).

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It keeps a lot of support files (like even user data in application support folders) though. See this answer. –  Lri Feb 17 '13 at 16:03

AppCleaner all the way. The vast majority of apps on the Mac are self-contained, which is why there's no built-in uninstall method in Mac OS X. The only exception to that is plist files - essentially just application preferences. These are tiny text files and usually inconsequential if left behind when you remove an app. (Leaving them also preserves you application preferences if you later decide to reinstall the app.)

Applications like AppCleaner are for purists who want to truly remove every last bit of an app when they uninstall it (nothing against purists, though -- I fall in that camp). Since all these apps mainly do is hunt down these stray plist files, paying for an app like AppZapper is a little ridiculous. AppCleaner is free and gets the job done perfectly.

Alternatively, the automation app, Hazel, automatically finds related files when you delete an app and asks if you'd like to remove those as well. It's not free, but it is highly useful for a vast number of other purposes, so if you'd like to get the other features it provides, you can kill two birds with one app, as it were.

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AppZapper

AppZapper is by far my favorite way to remove an Application and clean up any associated files in Preferences or Application Support.

Also, here's a tip. Drag AppZapper to your Finder's toolbar like so. This will then give you the ability to drag applications you want to uninstall by dragging the application on top of the the AppZapper shortcut in the toolbar.

alt text

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I've also seen AppZapper.

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Also bear in mind that many applications will include an uninstall option as part of their installation package, either as a separate program/script within the .DMG file or as a specific option in the installation wizard itself.

So although it might seem counter-intuitive, it's often worth mounting the original .DMG file (that you downloaded) again, and having a look for anything marked 'uninstall' - you sometimes find that utility program, driver-type packages and large games do tend to include software to clean-up after themselves.

If I come across a couple of examples in the next day or so, I'll edit this to include their names.

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At the same time, large suites like Adobe's Creative Suite sometimes don't have an uninstaller but instead detailed instructions on how to manually uninstall all components (and it's not fun at all). –  Philip Regan Aug 25 '10 at 13:07
    
Most, if not all, of the software I have downloaded has never included an uninstaller in the dmg. –  Senseful Jan 28 '11 at 23:27

Mac World magazine of August 2010 has this article, they mention several programs to do this, and explain why you should not rely on such programs 100%, but check all files they erase as sometimes they do what they shouldn't.

Let me check the article again and I will post the recomendations here.

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I guess you mean this one: macworld.com/article/151403/2010/05/… –  Andrei Jul 21 '11 at 20:23

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