How to Install and Uninstall Programs on a Mac


The App Store and Launchpad used in OS X Lion makes installing and uninstalling App Store programs a snap. Programs install automatically and can be removed with a single click, using the same method used on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Other programs installed from DVDs or downloaded from websites can usually be removed quite easily, but sometimes require some research and thought beforehand. Keeping all of your programs in the Application folder, rather than spread across different folders or on the desktop, will make it easier to manage your files and remove them when you no longer need them.

Installing App Store Programs

  • Install a software program from the Apple App Store by launching the App Store, located in the Dock or in the Applications folder of the Finder.

  • Browse or search for the program you want, then click the price-tag icon. The price tag changes to an "Install App" icon. Click the icon again. A dialog box opens asking you to sign in to the App Store with your Apple ID email address and password.

  • Enter your Apple ID or click the "Create New Account" button if you don't have an Apple ID. The same Apple ID can be used for the iTunes library. You may be required to enter payment information, such as a credit card or PayPal account, if the application is not free. The program is automatically installed to your computer and can be accessed using the Apple Launchpad.

Uninstalling App Store Programs

  • Uninstall any software purchased from App Store by opening the Apple Launchpad. This is the rocket-shaped icon located in the Dock at the bottom of the screen. The Launchpad icons appear on the screen.

  • Click and hold any Launchpad icon. The icons begin to shake. An "X" appears on the upper-left of any icon belonging to an application purchased from the App Store.

  • Locate the icon for the application you want to uninstall. Click the "X" beside the icon. A dialog box opens asking if you are sure you want to delete the application. Click "Delete." The application is uninstalled from your computer.

Installing and Uninstalling Other Programs

  • Manually install other applications from a website or from a DVD or CD according to the manufacturer's instructions. Most applications available online can be downloaded using your Web browser and appear as a DMG file. Double-click this file to launch it. In many cases you can simply drag the resulting application to your Applications folder. Other applications include special instructions presented onscreen when the DMG file is opened, or as a TXT or PDF file included in the specific application's folder. Keep these files if they contain instructions you may need to uninstall the application later.

  • Locate the application you want to uninstall in the Application folder in the Finder. Determine if it is a basic application or a complex one by recalling how you installed it and by looking for any "ReadMe" or "Uninstall" files associated with the application. You can also go to the application's website to see if there are special instructions. A basic application has only one application file with no associated library files.

  • Uninstall a basic application simply by dragging the application into the Trash or by pressing "Command-Delete" on the keyboard.

  • Uninstall a complex application by clicking the "Uninstall" file if it has one and following the onscreen instructions. This is the case for applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word.

  • Click the "Finder" icon in the Dock to search for additional files for a complex application if there was no Uninstall file associated with it. These leftover files, also called legacy data, can be spread across library folders and subfolders throughout your Mac.Type the application name in the search field on the upper-right of the Finder window. Scan the resulting files to determine whether or not they are associated only with that application before deleting them.

  • Locate any additional files associated with the application by typing the file extensions used by the application into the Finder search field or into Spotlight's search field. For example, Photoshop files can be found by typing ".psd" into the search field. Microsoft Word files can be found by typing ".docx" or ".doc" in the search field. Empty the Trash only if you are completely certain you will not need the files you deleted. If in doubt, wait a week or two, or back up the files to a USB flash drive.

  • Consider using a third-party application-removal utility only if it is vitally important to you that all traces of a software program be removed. Many people do not like the idea of having stray files in their computer; however, most library or preference files you may have missed are very small in size and will not interfere with other programs or fill up your hard drive.

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