Do you recommend using an app to remove other apps?

In the case of AppCleaner, you’re shown a list of files and folders to be deleted and perhaps a few that you can optionally choose to delete. If you choose to get rid of them, you can see they end up in the trash.

I assume AppCleaner does a good enough job. I’m not too worried If there are few random files left lying around.

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I use both AppCleaner and Find Any File to make sure I get rid of all files.

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Continuing the discussion from Do you recommend using an app to remove other apps?:

I’ll put my vote in for Clean My Mac. It shows a list of files it’s going to delete and allows you to choose. I’ve used it for many years and I’ve never had a problem with it deleting files other apps needed. It is continually updated with new features and Clean My Mac X does so much more than just delete files. Worth every penny, not to mention it’s support for Ukraine’s effort resisting Putin’s attempt at land grab.

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Macs have no Registry like Windows (or rather, there is one but macOS maintains it automatically) and usually all of the apps components are (usually) inside the app bundle. So, usually all that you need to do to delete the app itself is to drag it to the trash.

This even includes apps that have extensions and startup menubar icons: the helper programs are inside the apps bundle.

In cases where the apps is installing helpers and/or extensions in other places, the app will usually provide an uninstaller. Sometimes this is part of the app’s installer pkg: if you run it again, you can may be able to choose to uninstall.

But none of this will remove files that were created by the app in the user’s Library, such as: Preferences, caches, and so on. If that is important to you, then that’s where using another utility can help.

Like some others, I’ve been using AppDelete. It finds most of an apps files, and by inspection of what it finds, you learn the apps bundle bundle id. Then I’ll search with Find Any File, use AppDelete to delete the app, and see if Find Any File has anything left outside the trash.

You have to be careful, though. Sometimes App Delete will includes files that actually belong to another application. For example, if you App Delete Quicken 2007 it would also select some files used by the current Quicken.

So I’d say that using any app deletion program can impose risk unless you know what you’re doing.

The toughest apps to delete are those that install files all over the place, provide no uninstaller, use non-standard naming that can’t be discovered. Microsoft Office, I’m looking at you. For apps like these you have to find instructions somewhere and manually delete the folders and files.

Yep…and the few that actually leave droppings all over the place usually have an uninstaller that was installed in the same folder as the app when originally installed. I’ve never really seen any need at all for CleanMyMac or others of it’s ilk.

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Has it been your experience that the uninstallers get all of the ‘droppings’? I’ve not found this to be the case as Find Any File shows many left-over files and folders after the uninstaller has run. I wish I could provide an example but I gave up on this method too long ago!

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Again, AppDelete works great, then I use Find My File to look for ‘droppings.’ Best, Patrick

For a humorous note, down here in Little Rock or Louisiana we’d be using the term ‘leavins’ rather than ‘droppings’ but I like them both. :) Best, Patrick

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In these days of 1, 2, 10 . . . terabyte drives, I’m not sure that any of these utilities are of much use. Strew files across your drive they may but if the strewing totals 500K why bother? If you purchased the app from the App Store all of its supporting files will be in a container and when you drag the app to the trash, the container will go with it. Some apps will write to other directories (mine did, with good reason) but really most of those files were trivially small things.

If you’re having disk space troubles an app like DaisyDisk, which will flag the huge files and make it easy to delete them (like that recipe video you watched 5 years ago and forgot you put in Utilities), will be far more useful.

Dave

Most of these apps got their start “back in the day” of spinning disk drives and CPU and memory speeds that look downright turtle like these days.

Performance tuning was a thing with some people. For some an obsession. Purging various cache files COULD make things faster if the cache got so big that searching it was slower than just getting the data again. Or not if the cache files were small enough that the search time was faster than getting the data again. And the speed of various systems in use varied wildly. Some these apps would make a big difference on one computer in a house and maybe nothing noticeable on another. Think SSDs vs HDDs.

Today everything in a recent computer is so fast and people are using gig networks (or AC/AX Wi-Fi) in their house or 400mbps internet that much of these “speed ups” just aren’t worth it.

IMNERHO

There is. Sort of. But there are a dozen or more ways to document what is where. And not every developer does it the same way. (Join the Munki Dev mailing list for fun on this topic.)

In terms of performance, you want to check out the following:

/Library/LaunchAgents

/Library/LauchDaemons

/Library/Application Support

/Library/DriverExtensions

/Library/Extensions

/Libaray/Internet Plus-Ins

/Library/Preferences (look for both com.company… and a folder for the app or company)

and similar

And then prefix all of those with ~ for the user and not the system space.

And STILL you might find things that are left lying around. Especially support files for things like scanners and mouse drivers.

The first two things up there are where preferences for things the system will automatically launch and if the things to launch are missing your system will keep trying until the preference is removed or the thing you removed put back.

Since the latest Intel systems and the new Mx Apple Silicon system I don’t worry too much about such things.

The only thing that impacts my performace is me keeping open 5 to 10 windows with up to 50 tabs in each in Firefox and Chrome. And periodically I have to quit and start them back up to deal with poorly coded web sites that keep eating more and more system resources. My local newspaper site being one of the worst.

And while I don’t do it as often as I tell people to do so, I tell everyone that you should restart your system every day or few to deal with run away applications. Life will be smoother.

David

PS: Who needs to remove applications more than once every few months? If that?

Just had a good recent example. I am using the note taking app Agenda. By default it syncs with iCloud, but I wanted to switch to Dropbox syncing. For some reason it wasn’t making the sync switch on one of my Macs; the solution was to delete the app plus all of the “cruft” in ~/Library (made much easier by one of those cleaning apps) and then install again.

But for the most part you’re right.

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I find that just quitting apps (or logging out) when you’re done for the day is sufficient. I rarely reboot - usually only when a system update forces me to or as a part of diagnosing some seemingly-impossible bug.

If you like to maintain browser state (windows and tabs) across sessions, most have options to automatically restore your previous session if you leave everything open when you quit.

But I choose to not do this, because automatically restarting a session can create an aggravating problem if one or more tabs have buggy/malicious content (e.g. one with a script that doesn’t let you close the tab). Instead, if I need to resume an old session, I can manually request reloading the previous session (both Safari and Firefox have this on their “History” menus).

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Just to add an example, I just upgraded my M2 MBA to Ventura 13.1, and I think that was the first time that I restarted it since I installed 13.0.1, or even logged out and back in to my account. And after restarting there were a bunch of utilities that prompted for upgrades - Bartender and Maestral are the two that I recall right now - and I think that it’s not until you restart / log in that you get prompted by some of these apps. So now I’m going to try to remember to log out at least once a week. (Every day I think is too often for me.)

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Are you sure about this? I tried out an app today and when I deleted it, its folder in Containers remained until I manually binned it. Is this behaviour documented somewhere?

The point of using a cleaner app is to help get rid of preferences etc so if you install in the future you have a fresh start (as @ddmiller needed).

No, I’m not absolutely sure.

I have definitely seen what I’ve described in several cases, however.

Dave

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