Sadly, those days are gone. Today’s Mac apps scatter files and folders hither and yon and when you’re ready to drag an app to the Trash can, there’s little guarantee that everything the app leaves behind goes out with the trash. If fact, most Mac apps leave litter behind even when you think they’ve been trashed.
When Delete Doesn’t Mean Delete
In the past I deleted apps from my Mac one of two ways. I’d drag the useless app to the Trash can, then look in my Library > Application Support folder for anything that resembled the app, and then drag those files and folders to the trash, too. A number of years ago I got smart and installed CleanApp on my Mac. I called it the best way to uninstall Mac apps. Why? CleanApp monitored app installations in the background so it knew where every app put its files. CleanApp also gathered data from a gazillion other users to compile a more accurate database library of files which could safely be trashed.
That whole process made deleting files and folders from discarded applications a pleasure. Then one day CleanApp stopped working well enough to use so we had a big fight, then we broke up, and I moved on to greener and less expensive pastures. Since then I’ve tried other app removal utilities with varying levels of success and failure.
One of my early favorite replacements was iTrash which costs a few dollars but comes with a few equally useful functions, including a search algorithm to trace down errant files, an app lister (lists apps, Widgets, Preference Panes, and all connected volumes). It’s still drag and drop but you can protect apps and files that you’d rather not accidentally lose.
Drag and drop rules, folks.
If you’re on a budget you’ll spend less money on AppDelete and get similar features (but not quite). It also finds files associated with apps, Widgets, Preference Panes, as well as Plugins and Screensavers. It’s drag and drop, of course, but it won’t delete files entirely but merely moves them to the Trash.
If you’re not just on a budget, but you’re a really poor Mac user and it’s a question of buy an app or eat, then AppCleaner is the utility you need to delete apps you don’t want to use anymore.
AppCleaner doesn’t have the bells and whistles as the other two app deleters, but it’s smart enough to dig through Application Support files and folders, as well as Preference plist files to find what’s associated with the app that needs to be deleted. As always, drag and drop rules.
All four apps can do the job and give you an option to check off which files should or should not be deleted before doing the deed. Or, you can resort to the first method, which is drag and drop the offending app to the Trash can, then rummage around to find the preferences and support files and trash those, too.
Recently I found myself using CleanApp again. I truly appreciate that it can monitor Mac apps and determine where they lay their eggs. That makes removing apps a pleasure, but this one has the most features to justify the higher price tag.
Yes, I long for the good old days when deleting an app from a Mac was little more than drag and drop, but we live in a more complicated age with less sophistication.