One of the many differences between using Windows and using Mac computers is what it takes to completely uninstall Mac OS X software. Unlike with Windows, on the OS X, all you need to do to remove software entirely is go to the Applications folder and click to delete it. Since most software in its Mac version doesn’t run any components in the background and doesn’t mess with your system settings, using programs that claim to do the removal job for you is usually useless.
Note, however, the term ‘usually’ in the previous sentence. It correctly indicates that in some cases, such procedures are required and cleanup software for your Mac will take care of business for you. Some of these possible scenarios include:
– The removal of an old or corrupt program component
– Software reinstallation for serial number changes
– In order to free up disk space – some programs leave traces behind, such as software preferences, support files, as well as hidden files (think Adobe CS apps or Symantec anti-virus products).
To completely uninstall Mac OS X software, start from the Apps folder
All you need to do here is drag the program icon to the trash bin and – presto! – that’s all it takes to completely uninstall Mac OS X software. Bear in mind that you do need administrator privileges in order to perform such an operation, so make sure you’ve got the username and password if you’re not the computer’s admin.
Removing app preference and support files
These files are located in either one of the two Libraries on the hard drive of your machine: the one at the drive’s top level, or the one within your Home folder. To make sure you completely uninstall Mac OS X software, you are best advised to visit both locations. Look for files and folders that contain the name of the program’s non-Mac title or vendor (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.). These are the files cluttering up your hard drive, which can be easily removed by sending them to the trash bin.
Typically, performing the two operations above will rid you of any clutter on your hard drive. However, if you have reason to believe that some program files still survive on your machine, you also need to remove kernel extensions and hidden files to completely uninstall Mac OS X software. Since finding them isn’t nearly as easy as in the aforementioned cases, we recommend that you run a Google search to figure out what components your software may have left behind. Note that not all programs make use of kernel extensions and hidden files, just some of those which employ background processing to run. Usually, software that falls under this category includes anti-virus programs, device syncing apps, printer software, and others in that area. You may even find that, in spite of having uninstalled Adobe or Symantec software years ago, the kernel extensions are still firing up – to your great nuisance and to remind you to update the program database.
A word of advice on kernel extensions is also required at this point. Before you proceed to deleting them, make sure you can undo the change. In other words, if you have some way at your disposal to move the extensions back or un-delete them, then go ahead. If not, wait until you can boot up your system from either a second Mac computer or an external hard drive. That’s because some kernel extensions are essential to ensure your system is running correctly – and that’s far more important than to completely uninstall Mac OS X software.