So after downloading lots of applications on my Mac in the past, I decided to get rid of some of these applications - and this is where I met some of the greatest hassles of using OS X, the processes of fully deleting an application, system maintenance and system control.

Normally I’d just delete an application by dragging the application icon to the trash bin and releasing it. Unfortunately this leaves lots of leftover files behind, which totally pisses me off, cause there is no way to make entirely sure that an application is completely removed from a system running OS X. I could do some manual system searches or I could use some third party app-remover, but even these methods can fail. And this have turned out to multiple problems inside a problem.

Since discovering the amount of leftovers an application leaves, I’ve been trying to find applications I’ve previously installed by the drag-and-drop method, so that I could find those previous applications and fully remove them. I’ve found some of these. Not all of them though. Is there any log file or terminal commands etc. that can reveal all applications, software and extensions downloaded to the system?

I’ve now ended up with even more problems. I might be a bit paranoid, but I fear that I might have deleted some system- or OS related file. Solutions to this problem might be a log file or terminal commands that reveals all items that’ve been either in the trash or deleted. Another solution could be a third party application that can tell if some OS X file is missing. Any suggestions?

Now let us take this to next level. Cause not only is it quite a hassle to remove applications on the system - the system itself becomes a hassle. I’ve noticed that when updating/upgrading the OS on a Mac, the old OS files remain on the system. Meaning that with years passing by, you might end up with loads of unusable outdated OS files. Any clues to a solution?

So as you can see there is quite a lot of hassle in this area of the Mac, and I’ve lately thought of just wipping the hard drive and reinstalling the latest softwareupdates. Though this isn’t really a great solution as all of these problems would reappear at a later stage. Also I don't think it's possible to 100 % wipe a hard drive. And I don’t wanna turn my Mac into a “raw Mac” only running Apple software. So I was thinking that some of you geeks and Mac-knowers might be able to help me out on this one. Thanks in advance.

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    I see two problem areas in your post: "How can I uninstall applications including any files created outside /Applications" and "I think there are leftovers from previous OS X versions on my HD, how can I find/delete those". This site works better if questions focus on a specific topic, can you edit your question accordingly? Asking a second question for the "other" topic is totally fine as well. – nohillside Jun 4 '15 at 14:51
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    Concerning the first problem, you actually might find some similar questions with answers already on AD. – nohillside Jun 4 '15 at 14:52
  • If you start with a clean OS X system, how many days of operation does it take you to trash it and consider a wipe? – bmike Jun 4 '15 at 15:13
  • I'd guess most of the problems you're finding are caused by the insistence on deleting totally innocuous leftovers, rather than leaving things be. I haven't had to do a wipe & fresh install in 25 years of running Macs. – Tetsujin Jun 4 '15 at 16:25
  • Use AppCleaner to thoroughly uninstall unwanted apps. – user3439894 Jun 4 '15 at 16:54

Wiping and starting over won't teach you what is causing each problem.

So, you can either decide to make a systematic approach to troubleshooting and isolating the issues you run into on your current setup and then attack them individually or you can punt and wipe.

The punt and wipe is actually quite effective at delaying any investment of time or energy into troubleshooting. Unless you keep running into the same issue, why do all the work to isolate it if you have an unlikely failure and complicated setup with the interaction between many pieces is causing the instability?

If you open Disk Utility - it shows you the count of folders and files. I have three Macs currently - and they have 1,678,502 and 1,936,355 and 1,666,050 files respectively. Trying to catalog that many millions of files would take ages. Ensuring I have a good Time Machine backup of all three, wiping them and setting up new user accounts would take me an hour or two at the most. (And much of that time could be spent watching youtube or netflix or knitting.)

I'm not seeing the hassle you report maintaining things, but perhaps your software or tooling makes getting a rebuilt system working less efficient.

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