Well, I collect apps; mostly graphic and photo utilities, but because I’m curious I try out far more Mac apps than I keep (the curse extends to iPhone and iPad, too). What bothers me more than just the extra housekeeping chores and the inevitable daily updates is OS X’s complete inability to delete files that an app installs.
Why doesn’t OS X have an uninstaller?
Microsoft copies from Apple. Apple copies from Microsoft. But an app uninstaller is a no-brainer because Mac apps leaves files and folders scattered all over the place. Deleting an app by dragging and dropping it to the Trash does NOT delete all the associated Application Support files and folders, or the left-behind Preference files or Cache files or whatever else Apple thinks we should not worry about.
That’s the kind of Big Brother attitude that Apple invokes here and there and I don’t like it. Or, maybe it’s just corporate Laissez-faire and Apple just doesn’t want to be involved. Whatever it is, I don’t like it, and Apple could do better.
What do I use to remove unwanted apps from my Mac? AppCleaner. It’s basically drag and drop simple to use.
Open up the User Applications folder. Select the app you want to remove. Drag and drop it onto AppCleaner.
What you get is a list of files which AppCleaner thinks are associated with the app, including the Application Support files and Preference files. A checkbox gives you the option to keep some of the files AppCleaner finds.
Click the Remove button and the app and its files are removed (sent to the Trash, so there’s still one last option to retrieve before deleting).
That’s really all there is to it, and considering that AppCleaner is free and simple to use, it’s an absolute bargain. But it’s not perfect. Some apps hide files elsewhere on your Mac and finding those files can be a challenge. I’ve been trying out an app called CleanApp which runs in the background on your Mac and basically watches where apps install files so when it comes time to delete an app it already knows where all the files are. Works great so far but CleanApp is more complex and comes with a price tag.