How to Completely Remove Software on the Mac OS X

As we’ve explained before, it typically isn’t difficult or complex to remove software on the Mac OS X. That’s because, unlike on older versions of Windows, Macs don’t require background components to run apps, nor do they change files that contain system settings. However, every so often, a Mac OS X user will run into a snag: either an old file that simply doesn’t seem to have had all its components removed, or the corrupt component of a file. These are the scenarios in which the regular method of removing the file by deletion just won’t cut it. So, what can you do in such situations? You can run software like Clean My Mac 2, which will usually take care of business for you, or you can try to go it alone. Here are the three types of software that you might want to do away with, on your OS X-running Mac.

How to remove software on the Mac OS X – The app version

Most apps appear as single icons, stored in the Applications folder on your hard drive, which means that, in order to remove them, all you have to do is drag the app’s icon over to the Trash bin. This will initiate the uninstallation process. Bear in mind that certain apps, such as the Adobe or Microsoft Office suites include several apps in a single folder; meanwhile, some other apps are stored on your desktop. Also, in order to begin uninstalling, you will need to provide the Mac with admin rights (which means you’ll probably need a password). Once you’ve done this, you can move on the following step to fully remove software on the Mac OS X

Removing system preferences and support files

This type of file can be found in two distinct locations on the hard drive of your Mac, so if you want to remove software on the Mac OS X, you will need to check out both of them. Confusingly enough, they’re both called Library – one is located on the uppermost level of your hard drive, while the other is situated in the Home Folder. Look through them, for files and folders that either bear the name of the software you’re trying to remove, or its vendor (Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, etc.). Look inside the Application Support Folder, in PreferencePanes, Preferences, etc. Hint: the files you’re looking for usually have the .plist extension and their names begin with ‘com.’.

Proceed at your own risk: Kernels and hidden files


If you’ve reached this step of the process and you still don’t believe you’ve eliminated the problem, you’re probably dealing with a kernel extension or hidden file. The problem is that it’s risky to delete such files on your own, so, at this point, you have several options:

–          Research the types of components your specific piece of software is using – you wouldn’t want to accidentally delete a kernel extension that you still need;

–          Call some form of tech support;

–          Run a dedicated app that can completely remove software on the Mac OS X.

If you still want to go ahead and move or delete hidden files or kernel extensions, you can find out more about this process here. However, it’s absolutely crucial that, before you do, you boot from a second Mac computer or external hard drive. At all points during the process, you need to be sure that you can undo any harmful changes. You will find kernel extensions in System/Library/Extensions and they bear the .kext extension. Most apps that use such extensions (and are likely to cause conflicts) are anti-virus programs, device syncing software, printers, etc..