As a software reviewer, I download a lot of programs to test them out. Some are great programs deserving of a space on my hard drive while others just are not up to snuff. With all the available software here at CNET Download.com, you've probably found a few gems worth keeping, but you've inevitably also downloaded a few programs that just didn't work out. We understand.
On a Windows machine, you can go to the control panel and choose the Add/Remove programs tool to find and uninstall software you don't want. But on a Mac, it's not as easy. When you install on a Mac the process usually involves dragging the software into your Applications folder. What you may not know is other files associated with that program are automatically installed into different folders to make the program work properly. So if you simply drag that app icon to the trash, you're leaving a significant amount of unused files on your hard drive.
Today, we have a group of freshly reviewed apps whose purpose is to extricate those unwanted apps and leftover files from your hard drive. They come in a few different versions, but all are worthy of checking out if you want to trash that one program once and for all, or if you just need to make space on your hard drive.
AppTrap is less of an app than it is a free System Preference pane. Once set up (you can have AppTrap start at login), all you need to do is exactly what you've probably done all along: drag the application to the trash. When you do, AppTrap will ask if you want to delete all associated files. Simply answer yes and you're done. If you're looking for the least work to get your Mac apps off your hard drive, AppTrap is your program.
AppCleaner is a free program that lets you be a little more hands-on than AppTrap. You can drag unwanted apps to the nice-looking interface, or browse through a list of possible apps to uninstall. AppCleaner shows you all the files you will be deleting before your confirmation so make sure to look closely before you pull the trigger.
AppZapper is a shareware program I've talked about before and does a fairly good job, but it will cost you ($12.95). Like AppCleaner you can drag-and-drop apps to the interface to display associated apps. But AppZapper also offers the UnZap command, letting you retrieve previously "zapped" software components from the trash. As an added bonus, you can also have the program search for other trash files on your hard drive with the Genie.
CleanApp is another shareware alternative with a few extra features than AppZapper, and yet it's more affordable ($10). CleanApp offers the same drag-and-drop functionality, but also allows you to track all future installations so you can make absolutely sure you delete every file upon uninstallation. CleanApp seems to forever remain in beta, but does a nice job otherwise and might be just the solution you're looking for.
Not all downloads are good downloads. Unfortunately, when you're on a Mac, it's more difficult to completely extract all files associated with unwanted software. Check out our reviews and look at the available features before installing the uninstaller that's right for you.