On windows I've used various utilities that actively track which files are added during a software install, and I'm sure there must be a good one for os x. Itrash (http://www.osxbytes.com/) is typical of the 'searching' type of app, which just looks through the system for similarly named files in the cache folders etc.

The closest I've found is Yank (http://www.matterform.com/mac_software/uninstaller/index.html) which does claim to do it, but hasn't been updated since 2009 so trusting something with low level file system monitoring without updates isn't ideal.

Any suggestions?

  • See this question especially fseventer
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 9:12

4 Answers 4


You have discovered iTrash which searches for related files at the time when you want to delete an application.

There are also uninstall apps which track all files used by an application. So they have a daemon (or helper app) which runs in the background all the time. Synium's Clean App works in this way - that is what I use.

Even better read the answers to How do I uninstall a program completely on a Mac? That covers it pretty well.

  • Thanks Gilby. Yes I'd read some notes about full uninstall, and it sounds like short of reinstalling the OS it will always be limited. Thx for your help.
    – Glinkot
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 3:31

Not exactly what you are after but Apple development tools like dtrace can track all file usage, googling for examples gave this blog which has scripts to record what files are used by which processes.

Also you should be able to get a find command using a -B argument.

Also note that not all files will be written at instal - User specific files e.g. ~/Library/Preferences and ~/Library/Application Support (or their sandbox equivalents) can't be written until the first run of the program and not the install. Also what happens if two users have run this do you want to remove both sets of files?


Pressing ⌘I in an installer shows what files would be copied by it.

Installers add log files to /var/db/receipts/:

lsbom /var/db/receipts/com.apple.pkg.MediaFiles.bom

You can also run sudo opensnoop to see what files are being accessed.


Would you be happy with just the "removes them later" part? I've been on Macs for nearly twenty years, and don't think it's necessary to track what's installed.

Take a look at the free preference pane AppTrap.

When you delete / move an application to the trash, it shows an alert that asks, "Do you want to move its associated system files too?" The trash isn't emptied, of course, until the user does so.

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