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Uninstalling programs

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
I'm a recent PC-to-Mac convert, and I'm not sure I'm figuring out the whole uninstallation thing. First, I'll recap on how the PC does it, and then ask if what I'm doing on my iBook G4 is right.

So when you install a program on a PC, it dumps files and crap EVERYWHERE on your hard drive. That's why it is necessary to have uninstallers, because they *supposedly* know where everything is and how to remove it safely.

HOWEVER, on my mac, many of the programs I've downloaded (i.e. poisoned) tend to not even have an uninstaller that I can find, or even a directory of files in the applications folder. So I've been just deleting the programs and any associated folders, because I think they don't have an uninstaller.

Is it really just this simple?

Thomas
post #2 of 59
edit: I have posted a web page with these same instructions.
See Uninstalling Apps on Mac OS X.


Yup, it's really THAT simple.

Mac OS X differs from Windows in how applications work on a couple of levels.

For one, Mac OS X doesn't have a registry. There's nothing even closely analogous to it. Applications do not have to register their location or anything like that to work. Application settings and preferences are stored individually per app as "Property List" files in the user's Library/Preferences folder. Sometimes apps may keep additional support files in the user's Library folder, but these are completely inert. They are only accessed by the parent app itself.

Second, Mac OS X apps are almost *always* stored in what Apple calls "bundles" or "packages". The user never sees any more to the app than just the icon itself (unless he intentionally starts digging around for info). That icon for the application is actually a special type of folder, but the system treats it as a single whole application. Inside that bundle icon, applications store everything from the executable code to graphics, sounds, icons, interface files, multiple language support files, and any additional resources the app may need. This eliminated the confusion and danger of storing other essential data files that are part of the app anywhere else on the drive. Now, everything the app needs to run is tucked nicely away within the app's icon itself.

(If you're curious about this, take any app like iTunes or Safari, control-click or right-click it, and choose Show Package Contents. Feel free to peek around in the app. Just be sure not to change anything unless you know what you're doing!)

The best way I have found of explaining the difference between uninstalling apps on a Mac versus on Windows is by showing how to uninstall Internet Explorer from a Mac. Here's a video detailing the process:

http://brad.project-think.com/movies/uninstalling.mov (~835 KB)

Try doing that with IE on a Windows machine.

The only things an app may leave behind after you've trashed it are its preferences and support files in one of the Library folders. However, as I mentioned above, this will not impact your system's performance with the exception of taking up a small bit of hard drive space. These files are inert and will not affect other programs or the system software itself. In the top-level Library are support files that would affect all users. In your home Library folder are the support files that affect only your user.

In the Library's Preferences folder is where most apps will stick their single preference file. The names of these files may be intimidating at first, but they're all logically done. An example:

com.apple.AddressBook.plist

The first part is like an internet address's ".com"; this example is from a business. Other common ones are org and country codes like uk or de. The second part is the software maker's name. The third is the software's title. The fourth is the filename extension, showing that this is a "Property List" file.

I usually leave any Library files where they are in case I ever decide to reinstall that program. Keeping them does no harm to the system and gives me the added benefit that the program will remember its settings if I reinstall later.

So, in summary: No registry mess, no "dll hell", no hidden files strewn across your drive. Just drag to the trash and be done with it.
post #3 of 59
I should app that on occasions there is the very rare software title that likes to install things in other places across the drive (Norton Utilities is an example). In cases like this, the installer should include either an uninstaller or other instructions on removing it. Alternatively, some apps use "installers" when they really aren't necessary and you can just delete the app itself because nothing was installed anywhere else.

I'd venture to say that literally as much as 99% of Mac software doesn't need an uninstaller. Apps that truly need a special uninstall process are in the extreme minority.
post #4 of 59
Perhaps a sticky on this topic would be apropos? It seems to come up with great regularity. Brad, maybe you can put your little movie up on the AI server so that it doesn't disappear if you decide to clean house?
post #5 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by torifile
Perhaps a sticky on this topic would be apropos? It seems to come up with great regularity. Brad, maybe you can put your little movie up on the AI server so that it doesn't disappear if you decide to clean house?

I was gonna say... brad, do you keep a copy of your above post as an rtf somewhere? Or do you really type it out anew every few days
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post #6 of 59
Sticky time!

Yeah, I have been answering this question quite frequently these days. It's enough, in fact, that I've even made my own web page "Uninstalling Apps on Mac OS X" from which I can copy-and-paste information or just as a place I can send new users like Thomas.

Don't worry about the movie file going anywhere. I keep local copies of anything important that I put on my web server.
post #7 of 59
Thread Starter 
Thanks Brad!

I mean, It's sort of weird. I know how to navigate my way out of .dll hell. I understand how to search the registry and remove all of those horrible files!

It's refreshing to know that I don't even need to do that now.

Maybe formatting and reloading will be just that simple.

Thomas
post #8 of 59
I have a way to uninstall. For instance i wanted to uninstall AOL then reinstall it.
I just trashed the app, then used Find File and typed in AOL and everything that showed up I trashed.
post #9 of 59
It's worth knowing that chances are, the application's created a preferences file in "(Your Home Folder)/Library/Preferences". Mind you, the sizes of these preference files is quite small -- about 4k or so per file, but it's still a good idea to make sure that your preferences folder is clean and free of any extraneous junk.

You can catch them by just doing a finder search for the application's name, highlighting everything you see in the results, and pressing Command-Delete, as Steve666 pointed out.
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-Former Apple CEO Michael Spindler
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"Do you know this company was on the brink of bankruptcy in '85? The same thing in '88, '90, and '92. It will survive. It always has."
-Former Apple CEO Michael Spindler
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post #10 of 59
With any app I'm getting rid of, the first thing I do is move the app to the trash, and then I check three places for possible straggler files

Drive / Library / Application Support

Home / Library / Application Support

Home / Library / Preferences

For commercial apps, there can be one or two files floating about, or a single folder to add to the trash. Then, just delete and you're done. MS of course, breaks from this convention and stores crap in a fourth location (Home / Documents / MS User Data). Mo-rons. Another exception is Unsanity stuff. I always "uninstall" the last version before installing the new version, but that uninstall basically does exactly what is noted above....

Now if only font management were even easier than the above (like it should be), we'd be all set. Although FontBook gets most users to that point I realize.
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post #11 of 59
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!

If I EVER tried searching for x application and highlighting everything that came up and deleting it, I would be toast on my windows box.

It's good to know that I can just do that. No shared files, nothing. I love it.

Thanks!
Thomas
post #12 of 59
...with one caveat.

Frameworks are the MacOS X equivalent of DLLs. In other words, better.

No, seriously, they provide a strong method for getting around/fixing that versioning hell DLLs seem to end up in, and can be used by several apps at once. However, when that happens you'll rarely find the framework named after the app you're trying to delete - possibly named after the company that produced them all, but that's about it. And they are *rare* to find outside third party application bundles... but I thought I'd at least mention them.
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post #13 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by Kickaha
...with one caveat.

Frameworks are the MacOS X equivalent of DLLs. In other words, better.

No, seriously, they provide a strong method for getting around/fixing that versioning hell DLLs seem to end up in, and can be used by several apps at once. However, when that happens you'll rarely find the framework named after the app you're trying to delete - possibly named after the company that produced them all, but that's about it. And they are *rare* to find outside third party application bundles... but I thought I'd at least mention them.

Good point, kick. The safest way to delete a program is to just drag it to the trash. If you want to more spring cleaning, searching through *your* home folder is the way to go. If you get outside your home folder and into /Library or (god-forbid and shoot the developers) /System, proceed with caution.

You can prevent this from happening by clicking on your home folder in the finder sidebar and entering your search in the toolbar and search selection. This way you can be sure only safe files show up.
post #14 of 59
Am I having Deja Vu? I could have sworn that I posted a link to Desinstaller which will uninstall any apps that are installed via the .pkg file. It can also recreate the .pgk for later use if you've deleted the original.
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post #15 of 59
There are apps that can check your preferences folder for files that are no longer being used (deleted programs). I think it was called PrefsOverload or something like that? I never personally used it, but it could be given a shot.

Uninstallers should be available for things that add more than preference files to your system. Some companies do a great job of uninstallers, and Unsanity is an example. As much as I like dragging a folder to the trash, uninstallers are nice to have.
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post #16 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by jwill
As much as I like dragging a folder to the trash, uninstallers are nice to have.

Are they really? We've all been programmed through years of exposure to Windows that applications have to be "uninstalled" to be completely gone. That there's some sort of voodoo and magic that occurs when we reboot our computers to get the ghosts out. Personally I think twice about installing an application that requires an uninstaller or my password to install. Many of my day to day use apps should do NOTHING to my system that requires some sort of intricate uninstall procedure.

Give me a nicely packaged .app that I can just drag whereever the hell I want it over a an app with a good uninstaller any day.

This is not Windows. There is no ghost in the machine.
post #17 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by torifile
Personally I think twice about installing an application that requires an uninstaller or my password to install. Many of my day to day use apps should do NOTHING to my system that requires some sort of intricate uninstall procedure.

Same here!

If I come across some new software title that uses a package or installer, I usually leave it sitting untouched on my desktop for a day or two and then it just goes straight to the trash. I don't trust 'em. If they're package installers, I might just use Pacifist to break them open and to extract the contents manually, but otherwise they're a total waste of electrons and get wiped from my drive.

For the vast majority of Mac OS X software, there is no excuse for using an installer. It simply is not necessary and it obfuscates the way the system works.

Quote:
This is not Windows. There is no ghost in the machine.

Best quote of the day! Almost good enough to replace my current signature. Almost.
post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by jwill
Uninstallers should be available for things that add more than preference files to your system.

Agreed.
Quote:
As much as I like dragging a folder to the trash, uninstallers are nice to have.

If an OS makes you end up needing an uninstaller for every app, it is Windows. There is nothing good in uninstallers.

In fact, there are several ways of distributing software. Most common are:
  • Disk images. Double-click and drag-n-drop to install. Drag to Trash to uninstall.
  • Archives (.sit, .gz, .tgz, etc). Double-click and drag-n-drop to install. Drag to Trash to uninstall.
  • Apple's Installer (PackageMaker). Double-click to install. Desinstaller/Pacifist to uninstall. If you're brave in CLI, cd into the package, find the *.bom (typically Archive.bom). lsbom is your friend.
  • Aladdin's installers (Installermaker) and Vise installers. Double-click to install. Double-click to uninstall, if the developer included the option.
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post #19 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by torifile


This is not Windows. There is no ghost in the machine.

nO KIDDING my mom called aoHELl tech 'support' once in like '97 and they said we couldnt connect because "we had a ghost in our system, he sayd it meant that some unknown problem occoured and it is called a ghost because it is so random, like casper." for a few weeks after that our sad little compaq was called casper


gotta love aol
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post #20 of 59
I've always been one of those people that keeps his [Windows] PC as clean as possible. Everytime I'd uninstall something... I'd automatically go and look to see if any folders were left over and delete those... then go into my individual profile and delete any files/folders stuck in there... then run through the registry to get rid of any remaining cra... eh hem... "stuff". Then I got my iBook a few months ago... I'm almost uneasy about how simple removing applications is in X. I still go looking around for little bits and pieces that might be left over. This is another one of those things that, as a PC user, ya just don't get until you actually have a Mac.
post #21 of 59
I haven't paid attention to this thread til now. Sorry for the late post. I had a bad experience with an application that installed a kernel extension. It broke Panther. I had to turn off all but essential extensions, to determine that it was indeed a bad extension, and then delete the offender. These files have the .kext extension.

Now, when an application has an installer, I look for an uninstaller. If it is there, I save the installer/uninstaller for future needs in a special folder. During installation I watch for the dialog box that asks for administrative permissions. This is a sign to me it plans to install stuff into the system. If an installer asks for such permission and does not provide an uninstaller, it may violate the guidelines set down by Apple. I haven't run into this situation yet, but would proceed with extra caution if I did.

Maybe someday all developers will do what many do, which is so simple. They tell me to drag the application to the Applications folder. Nice.
post #22 of 59
Hi guys,
I to am a very recent convert to Mac. 12" power book 1.33
I have been a windows user for years, and found this reply helpful. Been wondering how the whole file stucture works. Thanks.
post #23 of 59
good thing this thread has a sticky
my wife has an iMac and i would like my next computer to be a Mac too. So I have been reading up on things etc
very helpfull! Thanks
post #24 of 59
This was a great thread for me since I plan to buy an ibook or powerbook this summer.

Has MAC OS always had such an easy way to uninstall? My first home computer was a Mac (I don't even know what it was-back in 96), but I was always deleting stuff by just dragging it to the trash.

I often think how stupid I must have been to get rid of programs that way, but maybe it wasn't so stupid. ha-ha.

I can't wait to play with the MAC OS. Of course, I'm also learning a couple distros of linux right now, and I think windows install/uninstall is easy compared to what I had to go through learning to install in linux the first few times. ha-ha.

I'm anxiously looking forward to my first real mac.
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post #25 of 59
Sorry guys, I think XP has the upper hand in removing programs. The add/remove programs feature erases everything, even aliases that the installer makes. In one click of the mouse. OS X has no uninstaller making you "find" everything and then moving it to the trash.

Sorry, but XP has a better way of doing it.
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post #26 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by His Dudeness
Sorry guys, I think XP has the upper hand in removing programs. The add/remove programs feature erases everything, even aliases that the installer makes. In one click of the mouse. OS X has no uninstaller making you "find" everything and then moving it to the trash.

Sorry, but XP has a better way of doing it.

No, it doesn't, it NEEDS to do it. OSX just doesn't have that need.

It has nothing to do with OSX, but with the software written for it. In the Wintel world they're used to uninstallers, because they really need it (and far from every program includes it, wich can be a drag ...).
There are a few softs for OSX who do have an uninstaller however, Microsoft Office for example. So it's not Apple, but They Who Write the Programs.

Ofcourse, the add/remove feature is in the OS itself and is based, I believe, on the info of the registry. And you don't want that in OSX
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post #27 of 59
Wow... that's the first time I heard someone say that... well... seriously anyway. Try "removing" something from say....Symantec via XP's "Add/Remove"... and you'll find a plethora of registry entries, hidden files, regular files, etc... all left all over the place. OS X is infinately better at removing programs than XP... you just have to understand how XP works. If you just go to "Add/Remove" programs in XP to remove something... and see it's gone... yeah... it "looks" pretty easy.... the truth of it is there is so much crap left behind that over time your registry grows to enormous sizes, you'll try to install newer versions of programs that won't be happy with left over registry entries from older versions... Ugg!!! I get frustrated just typing about it!
post #28 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by His Dudeness
Sorry guys, I think XP has the upper hand in removing programs. The add/remove programs feature erases everything, even aliases that the installer makes. In one click of the mouse. OS X has no uninstaller making you "find" everything and then moving it to the trash.

Sorry, but XP has a better way of doing it.

Ummmm, no, thanks for playing anyway though.



Windows includes many tools that Windows users look at the Mac and say "You don't get that for free? How ridiculous!" not realizing that the tools are *kludges* to cover up *problems*.

Disk defrag? Problem is a poor filesystem design leading to horrendous and continual fragmentation.

Anti-virus? Problem is a poor security model that makes it an easy target.

Uninstall? Problem is that programs are required to be installed by jumping through hoops and setting all sorts of invisible things that the user can't see or get to.

Guess what... no problem, no tool needed. That's why the Mac doesn't ship with those tools, and why they simply aren't needed by 99% of the Mac users out there.


As for the apps that do run Installers on the Mac, most of them are doing it utterly wrong. There's no need for an Installer to spew crap all over the hard drive anymore, and no need therefore to keep track of where everything is and go find it to delete it. But some developers (MS anyone?) *INSIST* on doing it that way because they simply can't believe, or don't get, that it simply isn't needed anymore. It really is that easy. And they really are doing it incorrectly in most cases that use an installer.

Drag, drop, done. That's the way it should be. Thankfully, that's the way it is in most cases.
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post #29 of 59
I thought defragmentation was done on macs, but behind the scenes during the night.
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post #30 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by ibook911
I thought defragmentation was done on macs, but behind the scenes during the night.

Actually, it's on going, and so the fragging never really hits the levels you see on Windows machines.

Ie, they take care of it at the filesystem level, automatically, so you don't have to manually run a defrag tool. I mean, that's just stupid to have to make the user do.
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post #31 of 59
Doesn't this make it easier to accidentally permanently delete things you need?
post #32 of 59
How do you figure?
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post #33 of 59
Maybe I'm just used to putting more effort into uninstallation. Therefore, not a real problem.
post #34 of 59
Probably.

It's pretty simple, really. If you installed it by dragging a folder somewhere, drag that folder to the trash. Done. If you installed it by running an installer, rerun that installer, and there will (should) be an Uninstaller option. Done.

There really isn't anything more to it in 99.9% of the cases out there. Every so often a developer will screw things up, but gosh darnit, they have to try hard to do so.
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post #35 of 59
Yes, you can drag 99.99% applications on Mac into trash. It's easy and efficient. However, I do have two questions.

First, I tried to delete an old version of Firefox. Yet, I couldn't delete them completely because some files inside default.pib is always in use, even though I tried restart my Mac many times. How could you find out which specific file is in use and delete it?

Second, I tried to delete Windows Media Player 9.0 for Mac (my son use it for awhile). However, some files are always in lock, even though I changed file ownership and permission. How can you completely delete Windows program for Mac?
post #36 of 59
The basic rule is: if you used an Installer to install it, you're going to want to use an Uninstaller to remove it.

As for WMP, I'm not surprised... you may want to find out specifically what is locked, and report back, but if it's inside the application, you should be able to just ctrl-click on the icon, and select Show Package Contents, then dive through to find the offending tidbit(s), select it, and do a Get Info (Cmd-I). You can then unlock the file manually. (Bottom of the General pane, at the top.)

Ditto for Firefox.

If all else fails, there are ways you can terminate with extreme prejudice at the command line.
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post #37 of 59
Thanks. I just get rid of WMP. I'm still trying to remove default.pib which belongs to an old version of Firefox. I'll report my findings later.
post #38 of 59
Ok. Regarding default.pib, I could delete everything visible. Yet, I suspect there're some .* files (files begin with a .) still running and I couldn't delete.

My question is: How can I delete a .* file if it resides in the trash folder?
post #39 of 59
Quote:
Originally posted by coelho
Ok. Regarding default.pib, I could delete everything visible. Yet, I suspect there're some .* files (files begin with a .) still running and I couldn't delete.

My question is: How can I delete a .* file if it resides in the trash folder?

open up terminal, cd to the trash folder, type ls -la, delete all files using rm,
try a 'sudo rm' on the files if you get a permission error,
type ls -la again to check if you've deleted all files you wanted to delete,
done.
or get a program called onyx at macupdate which lets you force empty the trash with a single click
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post #40 of 59
....or, open termainal **deleted** . Guaranteed to make those pesky apps go away.

Mod note: edited to remove hilarious but potentially catastrophic instructions
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