My Mac is loaded with over 100 extra applications and utilities; those beyond Word, Excel, Photoshop, and iLife.
I’m always cluttering up my Mac with new tools to try; some good, some not so good. How do I reduce the clutter? How does a Mac user get rid of apps and utilities and all their associated extra files?
Frankly, it’s either not easy, very easy and incomplete, or it’s a mere click. You choose.
Here’s the problem. When you install a Mac application or utility it isn’t just drag and drop to install, or drag and drop to the trash to delete what you no longer want.
Apps and utilities leave files and folders scattered all over your Mac. Some can linger and cause problems later, most of them just take up extra space. And Apple doesn’t provide an effective or easy way to dispose of all the scattered garbage.
Where do all these files and folders go? Almost every Mac app and utility creates and leaves a preference file (sometimes two or three) in the home folder’s Preferences file.
Simply dragging the app or utility to the trash doesn’t delete the preferences. Worse, many Mac apps and utilities also create folders in other locations on your Mac, often in the Application Support folder in your home folder.
If you have plenty of extra applications and utilities, check that folder on your Mac and you’ll see plenty of folders you didn’t put there. Those folders and files add up, take up extra space, even after you delete the apps and utilities.
Is there a way around all that extra garbage sticking to your Mac’s hard drive? Not counting the drag and drop to the trash method, there are six decent ways to do delete all or most or some of the offending extra baggage files. Alphabetically…
This handy utility runs on OS X Tiger and Leopard and comes with drag and drop simplicity. Find an app or utility you don’t want, drag and drop in on AppCleaner.
AppCleaner then finds most of the associated files and folders that were installed on your Mac, and readies them for deletion. Click and they’re gone. Thank you, donationware.
$5 gets you a similar utility called AppDelete. Leopard, Tiger, and Panther compatible, AppDelete works much the same way.
Drag and drop the old app or utility onto the AppDelete icon and it searches and readies for removal files and folders associated with what you want to trash.
This utility wins the award for coolest icon and sound effects, but works the same as the others. Drag and drop to AppZapper, check, click to delete files and folders.
There’s the common drag and drop, and the common problem among all three. They sometimes grab files and folders that should not be deleted, sometimes miss those that should, sound effects notwithstanding.
One of my favorite app delete utilities is CleanApp, which works differently than the other apps deleters.
CleanApp stays running all the time and monitors every application or utility you install, watching where it puts files and folders. When it comes time to delete an app or utility you don’t want, CleanApp knows where all (most) of the files and folders were placed.
The clean up price just jumped from zero to $5 ot $10, though CleanApp is far more thorough, giving you good value.
Easily the most expensive and least creatively named utility to remove files and folders is Uninstaller.
This nifty utility takes periodic snapshots of your applications and utilities habits and figures out what went where and when. It’s far more complex, yet often thorough.
Cutely named Yank also deletes files and folders from any app or utility you’ve installed on your Mac.
Like the other utilities with a price tag, Yank monitors your Mac. When you install a new app or utility, Yank knows what other files and folders were installed, and can list them for you when you’re ready to delete the offender.
The first three, AppCleaner, AppDelete, and AppZapper search your Mac for files that each thinks is associated with what you want to delete. Sometimes they’re wrong and prepare files to delete that should not be. That’s not as accurate.
The last three, CleanApp, Uninstaller, and Yank, all monitor your Mac, and keep track of what files and folders go where, thereby making the clean and delete process more accurate. Usually.
Of the six, the best value for me is CleanApp, though I admit it’s caused me a few problems in Leopard, and it’s still in Leopard beta nearly a year later.
For me, drag and drop doesn’t work because it’s difficult to find all the files, folders, and preferences left behind when I clean my Mac. How do you delete applications, utilities, and their respective files and folders from your Mac? Share in the Comments section below.