Do you recommend using an app to remove other apps?

I want to remove Google Drive from my Macs. When I searched how to do it, I saw apps being promoted that would make the removal process easier and prevent any “app leftovers.” For example, PowerMyMac claims it will Clean up and speed up your Mac with ease. What do you advise? Please share your views on these kinds of utility apps,

I use CleanMyMac X for this and for regular maintenance tasks. And whatever leftovers remain can be cleaned up in a maintenance sweep by the app. I have used this app for years and rely on it to prepare my Mac for system updates and backups. It is a multi-featured app that allows you a trial run before purchase. Lastly, it is part of MacPaw software based in Kiev Ukraine. The owner and employees are very active in supporting their own non-profit for Ukraine citizens.

I use App Cleaner. It is free and works well. It shows you what you are going to remove (and lets you select anything you want to keep).

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Thank you, sir, for your quick response. Sounds good, and I will check it out.

How does any app designed to remove other apps’ “leftovers” know which files would be leftover? Is there a registry on the Mac that keeps track of such? Does the cleaning app download a database (that might or might not be complete or up-to-date)?

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All such apps accomplish their work by simply searching for both the app and developer names in determining what to remove. Back in the old days this would frequently cause issues where multiple apps shared certain files, so deleting one would disable others. That has been pretty much eliminated today through the use of a built-in whitelisting of shared files.

You can accomplish this for yourself by simply searching for the app and developer names yourself, either with macOS processes or search apps like EasyFind or Find Any File, but you then have to be careful to not delete a shared file (there aren’t very many of these).

I’m not aware of any of these apps that download database updates, instead they simply update the cleaner app itself to fix any issues.

I see no reason to pay for these cleaner apps, when there are free and donationware apps available to accomplish this one task. If you feel a paid app offers something else you feel the need for, then consider it, but by and large I don’t recommend them to most users.

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Thank you for your insights, Al.

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Do not expect any noticeable speed increase because of using an app to clean your mac. If you find your mac has slowed down, go hunting for big files instead. For some applications, free space on the drive is important. You can use GrandPerspective to do that.

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Thank you for your advice!

For years, I’ve used Reggie Ashworth’s app ‘AppDelete’ and it has worked flawlessly. I then use Find Any File by Thomas Tempelmann to search for crumbs left behind.
I just read on Reggie Ashworth’s site that he unfortunately died in a car accident in 2017 but a friend from Germany is keeping the app going. I did not know that. A good reason to support a remaining family? Either way, it has worked for me. Best, Patrick

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As many know I just tried out several TRIALS of antimalware and antivirus. In attempting to remove them, I used an auto-remover IF it came with one. Otherwise, I used AppDelete then Find Any File. I was in shock at how many files were placed ALL OVER my operating system by these softwares. I finally got all the ‘crumbs’ removed and am sticking w Malwarebytes. Just my 2 cents. Best, Patrick

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Thank you, Patrick.

Al, I bought Clean My Mac for my 2010 iMac and 2011 MacBook Pro. What free/donationware Apps would you recommend?

FYI —- I used Clean My Mac (It listed a bunch of bunch of stuff and seemed like a good idea at the time!) to delete App/files… Unfortunately, it deleted something that Carbonite needed and there is NO WAY to restore what was deleted. Won’t make that mistake again!

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@janesprando Hi Jane. I have used AppCleaner for years. It is free and is available from freemacsoft.net. I’ve had no difficulties with it at all. I too used to use Clean My Mac but found it not particularly helpful and I was always worried it would delete things I needed but I was not smart enough to know I needed them - ouch!

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I have been using AppZapper for a long time with no problems.

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Ditto for AppZapper.

If you use any any of these apps how do you know they have worked?

One way is to use a different app that exhaustively searches all libraries and hidden folders/files for the pieces that apps scatter everywhere. However, if you have an app that does that you don’t need anything else.

I use Thomas Templemann’s Find Any File. It searches on keywords and combinations, lists what it finds, and allows you to delete what you choose.

Recommended!

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Interesting. I wondered how they did their magic. For some reason, I assumed there was some sort of directory or plist in the app bundle with the names of installed files and pointers to them, and the cleaner apps just read that. Your explanation makes sense of the reports that one cleaner app does a better job than another.

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There actually used to be something like that, at least for those apps that supported it. Back in the day, the Mac OS X installer app would after running save a BOM file which later could be used to make sure all traces of the app were removed. But somewhere along the way those BOM files fell out of style…

In principle this could have happened because apps became (or Apple forced developers to make apps) self contained so we no longer needed anything like that. But of course actual reality is different. Many apps still litter the file system. I sometimes wish I could look up where all their droppings are with such a simple BOM file.

Not unrelated is the installer no longer allowing users to save a simple txt dump of all installed files and paths. Instead you now just get to look at the list—provided you know where it’s hidden (and take a screen shot, I guess…) :man_shrugging: :frowning:

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Find Any File always finds “leftovers” so I just start there in the first place.