App removal/testing questions

I’m in the process of gradually moving my computing life from my 2015 Intel MBP running High Sierra to my M2 on Ventura. I’ve been working on the assumption that most of my software will need to be replaced – but I’d like to test that before replacing (i.e. my Quicken 2015).


  1. Can I simply copy the app from the applications folder on my older machine to the new machine and see if it launches?

  2. If it fails to launch – or if I install a new app as a test and I don’t like it – can those apps be removed simply by deleting that one file from the applications folder?

Thanks, as, always, for your help!

  1. As a quick-and-dirty test, you can copy the app as you describe and see if it launches.
  • Before you do that, be sure to update the app on your older machine (which is generally a good thing to do anyway!).

  • To be safe, you could try apps in a Virtual Machine on your M2 Mac. Howard Oakley’s excellent and free Viable and Vimy VM programs work great for this; they’re fast and pretty easy to use. One tip: Before running a VM, make a copy of it in Finder and then run the copy with Vimy. Then when you’re done, Trash the copy. That way you never make any permanent changes to the VM. (Because of a Sonoma APFS volume’s copy-on-write, the copy will only take a few seconds, won’t take up much disk space, and is just as quickly deleted.)

  • In some cases it would be better to download a fresh copy of the app on your M2 Mac. Some programs such as LibreOffice have separate versions for Intel/Apple Silicon and/or different versions of macOS, and some will automatically detect what machine you are using and provide you with a version specifically for that machine. (So if you download on your Intel machine you’ll get an Intel-only version.)

  • Some apps must be installed via an installer, and not just copied to Applications.

  • If it is an Intel-only app it won’t work on your M2 Mac at some point in the near future, when a future macOS stops including Rosetta 2. You can find out if an app is running as Intel or Apple Silicon by looking at the “Kind” column in Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor.

  • Consider updating your M2 to Sonoma before you migrate your apps; you appear to keep your machines for a long time (as I do), and Sonoma will have security updates for a year longer than Ventura, assuming Apple continues their (terrible) support policies.

  1. Deleting the app from Applications will work for most apps, but some will have left other files in all sorts of places if you successfully started them (even if they eventually failed to work completely). (Using a VM for testing eliminates the need to do this.)

Thank you – that’s very helpful. I’ll try those. I have been pondering whether to update to Sonoma before I get too much on this machine. I’m always concerned about updating too quickly, given bugs that need to be worked out and I’d heard there were some with Sonoma. But I suppose now’s the time.

Most Mac software can be “installed” merely by copying the app. That’s a macOS feature – apps are self-contained.

Even if the app does require placing stuff in other places, a well-written application will do that automatically when you launch the app.

Most Mac software can be uninstalled just by deleting the app. But the meaning of “uninstalled” is fuzzy.

On the one hand, since Mac apps don’t splatter the drive with files and there’s no Registry* with tons of configuration information to remove, it should be enough to just remove the app. This, however, won’t remove every file that app created. For example, it wouldn’t remove user preferences.

If you want to completely remove an app it requires more work. But, let me say that there’s a reason Macs don’t have an “uninstall” function; it rarely is required.

* Technically there is a registry but macOS maintains it automatically.