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How Do I Delete Application Programs In Mac OS Lion?

What is the best way to thorougly delete applications in Mac OS Lion? For example if I want to delete an application like Firefox and make sure that nothing related is left behind. Is there a way to do it within the OS or must one get a third party app like AppCleaner or AppZapper? I’ve heard draging to the trash is not sometimes a completely perfect deletion. Remnants can still be left behind in scattered files.

Comments: 3 Responses to “How Do I Delete Application Programs In Mac OS Lion?”

    12 years ago

    It depends on the application.
    For apps you buy in the Mac App Store, you do it through LaunchPad. It works in a similar way to iOS apps. You click and hold any app icon, they all wiggle, you click X buttons at the upper right. But the X only appears if you installed the app using the Mac App Store.
    For most other apps you would use their uninstaller program. Sometimes the uninstaller is part of the original installer. Sometimes it is a separate program inside the application's folder or in the application itself. Sometimes you download something from the developer's site.
    Other times it is a matter of going to the developer's web site and following their uninstall instructions.
    And then there is the drag-to-the-trash method. This works fine for many (most?) applications. The only problem, as you mentioned, is that sometimes a little file or small folder of files can be left in the preferences folder. But don't worry too much about this. Usually this is so tiny as compared to everything else that it isn't worth a second of your thought, let alone any effort. Most of the time it is a single little file like "org.mozilla.firefox.plist" in your user Library/Preferences folder. It certainly isn't worth spending real money on an application to do it for you.
    You can always go to the Library/Preferences folder (Hold Option and choose Go, Library in the Finder, then look in Preferences) and do a find for the name of the application.
    See episode 157:

    Michael A.
    12 years ago

    The size of plist files may not matter if you're worried about filling your hard drive, but getting rid of them is essential if you want to reinstall the application and make a clean start with it.

    I use a free program called AppTrap to help trash files related to an application. When you move an application to the trash it automatically prompts you with a list of related files you can trash as well. It's far from perfect: it usually appears when upgrading an application because the old version gets moved to the trash, and I'm not convinced it finds related files other than the preferences and a few other obvious things. But it's an improvement on my previous state of affairs and it was free.

    12 years ago

    After finding several generations of scraps leftover from migrations using Migration Assistant, I found AppCleaner and have been doing some decent house cleaning.

    I heard from Apple Support that Migration Assistant sometimes moved too much during the migration process and I learned from experience that it cannot tell whether something is orphaned.

    AppCleaner is not perfect, though. It wasn't able to distinguish between installed versions of a few help files for example. Fortunately it does provide the opportunity to preview what it intends to move to the trash.

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