For example, wouldn’t you like to know why Apple doesn’t provide a built-in uninstaller that safely removes installed apps that you want to delete? It seems logical and reasonable to be able to delete– safely– apps you don’t want. Here’s a good way to do just that, and here’s the problem that it brings.
Bells, Whistles, And Creep
For a number of years one of my favorite Mac utilities has been CleanApp, a tool which monitored all running apps on your Mac, and knew where each app put files.
It’s that background monitoring which made CleanApp one of the best uninstaller apps that Mac users could buy.
Here’s what happens when you install an app to your Mac. Often, the app creates a Plist file, then it adds support files in your Home library Application Support folder.
Sometimes, those extra files can be scatter hither and yon over your Mac’s file structure. Simple deleting an app you don’t want doesn’t necessarily (or usually) delete all the associated files.
CleanApp was one of the first to have a background logging utility which monitored what each app did on your Mac. It knew just where the files were located, then, using the logger, it would find the unnecessary but related files and make them available for deletion.
Great, right? Who doesn’t want to see a list of files you don’t need from an app you’re ready to delete?
The latest version of CleanApp works similar to earlier versions. The logger monitors apps and where they install various support files, which makes for a cleaner app deletion.
The nature of software seems to be to constantly add new features, and the resulting complexity often overshadows the ability of an app to be useful and effective.
Have you ever wondered why iPhoto works pretty much like iPhoto of the early part of the century (yes, we’re up to version 11, in eleven years)?
CleanApp has a dose of feature creep, functions which are added to increase the upgrade value, but often detract from the original capability and usefulness.
For example, CleanApp can remove language packs from OS X (ostensibly those you won’t need) to free up disk space. If you have Universal Binary apps, CleanApp can slim them down to match your version of OS X.
The Old Files feature tracks down files which take up space but that you may no longer need. It also finds duplicate files, and comes with a feature to let you test your Mac to make sure a file you’re ready to delete won’t cause problems, either with OS X or with an application upgrade.
Also in the new version of CleanApp are options to run OS X maintenance scripts, delete iOS data that iTunes saves but you don’t use but also takes up disk space. While that laundry list of new features seems plausible and beneficial, they’re also made CleanApp slower, less stable, and more prone to creating as many problems as it solves.
That’s the problem with feature creep. App developers need to have steady revenue to keep developing their apps. One way to do that is to add new features and then charge an upgrade price. That’s the nature of the business. The nature of disappointment is when an app no longer performs as well as it once did, despite all the new features. I much prefer what works well to a list of features that only hinder the primary reason for buying a Mac app. CleanApp is decent, but it used to work better.