How to Uninstall Applications from Mac OS X Snow Leopard

By Mark L. Chambers

You might no longer need an application, or maybe you need to remove it to upgrade to a new version or to reinstall it. Mac OS X Snow Leopard doesn’t have an Add or Remove Programs utility for uninstalling software, nor does it need one, because virtually all Macintosh applications are self-contained in a single folder or series of nested folders. Therefore, removing an application is usually as easy as deleting the contents of the installation folder from your hard drive (for example, removing the Quicken folder to uninstall Quicken).

Always check the application’s README file and documentation for any special instructions before you delete any application’s folder! If you’ve created any documents in that folder that you want to keep, don’t forget to move them before you trash the folder and its contents. In fact, some applications may come complete with their own uninstall utility, so checking the README and documentation may save you unnecessary steps.

Some applications can leave preference files, start-up applications, or driver files in other spots on your disk besides their home folder. When you’re uninstalling a program that has support files in other areas, use the Search box in the Finder toolbar to locate other files that might have been created by the application. Again, don’t forget to check whether an application has an uninstall utility (or an uninstall option available through the original setup application).

Spotlight searches can help find files. In this example, a search is run on Microsoft Office 2008. By searching for the word office, a number of files created in other folders, such as the Settings file were found in the Preferences folder. Typically, you want to delete the main application folder and then remove these orphans.

Use Spotlight to locate support files after uninstalling an application.
Use Spotlight to locate support files after uninstalling an application.

Spring Cleaning, from Smith Micro, also has the ability to uninstall a program, as well as a feature that can find and remove orphaned files left from past applications.