The following Guest Post is from David Ritchie:
With a wide variety of software that is available for your Mac, you are probably tempted to download and install many of them. With many freeware, shareware, and low-cost applications out there, you will eventually run out of disk space, no matter how big your disk drive is.
Why should you uninstall Mac programs?
There are many reasons why you might want to uninstall programs. Space constraint is one; you will have to remove programs and files you no longer want or need to free up some disk space, before you realize that there is no more physical space left on your disk! Uninstalling unwanted Mac programs is an important aspect of keeping your Mac clean so that your machine does not slow down, or freeze.
The other reason to uninstall software is to upgrade existing necessary software. Sometimes this requires a complete uninstall and reinstall. When upgrading a program from an older version to a newer version, you sometimes have to remove the old one or the new one might not work properly.
Does Mac OS X have a built-in uninstaller?
Apple Mac OS X does not come with an built-in uninstaller tool. This is because most Mac applications are packaged programs that keep most of the files together in one place. Each application is represented via an icon in the Applications folder; this might be a single file with simple software, or a folder that contains the files required for a program to work. This form of packaged software is called bundle software in Mac language.
To view package contents, hold down the Ctrl key and click on an application. From the menu options that are displayed, select the Show Package Contents option. When you select this option, a Finder window opens for you to view the files and folders that are part of the application.
How to uninstall programs in Mac?
To uninstall an application package, just drag the application icon to the Trash. Alternatively, you can hold down the Ctrl key and click on the application icon, and then choose Move to Trash from the menu that is displayed.
Note that a few applications do come with uninstallers, so before you drag the application to the Trash, check to see if one is available. Always install and uninstall software while logged on as an administrator rather than a standard user.
Will Trashing programs uninstall them completely?
Trashing a program will work if the trashed program is a packaged Mac software bundle. In this case, all the associated files are uninstalled along with the main program.
However, if your uninstalled Mac program is not a bundle, it is likely that many associated files and folders were not uninstalled along with the program. One reason for this is that programs install files in different locations; not all application files are located along with the actual program in the Applications folder, for example, customization options, preferences and options, skins, add-ons and plug-ins. A program may also cache information so that it can be accessed more easily the next time it is required, for example a web browser. Uninstalling your browser will not remove its cache files. If you do not track these rogue leftovers and remove them, your hard disk will soon starve for space and it will not matter that you did uninstall programs to make room.
How to ensure that all associated files are removed?
To ensure that all the associated program files (library files, system files, preferences) are removed, you can either manually locate and delete them, or use a third-party uninstaller such as AppTrap to do the clean up for you.