The Natural Way to Delete Apps from Your Mac

I recently wrote about two apps that help users remove software applications from their Macs: AppZapper and Amnesia. I’ve just stumbled upon a third which, from both a usability and a functionality perspective, trumps both the apps I’ve discussed before: Hazel.

I think what truly sets Hazel apart is that its enables you to keep your Mac clean in a much more natural manner. Rather than requiring you to initiate a deliberate uninstall process, as you have to do with both AppZapper and Amnesia, Hazel follows your lead. So there’s pretty much no learning curve, and minimal effort for each app you want to remove.

After all, how do most users remove anything from their Mac?

OldTrash

Yeah, they drag and drop things to the Trash. Hazel simply integrates itself into this workflow. And it only makes sense.

If you want to remove an app from your Mac, you drag and drop it into the Trash. Hazel recognizes your intention and pops up a dialogue box asking if you want to remove all trace of that app from your system, like so:

HazelClean

What’s more, Hazel seems to do a better job than at least AppZapper of identifying the files related to an app. Here’s what AppZapper found on my Mac when I tried to zap the same app that Hazel noticed I’d dragged to the Trash:

AppZapperClean

It turns out that AppZapper missed the cache file. Granted, it’s only 13 KB, but Hazel’s clearly paying more attention.

Even better, Hazel can handle the removal of things like application panes in System Preferences.

Here, I removed the Default Folder X pane from System Preferences (by right-clicking on the pane and selecting, “Remove ‘Default Folder X’ Preference Pane”), and Hazel helped me to remove all associated files:

HazelPrefPaneClean

I like Hazel because it adapts itself to the way most people use their Mac and would naturally remove apps, rather than requiring us to learn yet another way to perform a basic function. So few apps approach a process this way, and it’s refreshing to find one that does.

Of course, Hazel requires that you actually know what you want to delete, and where to delete it from. It doesn’t have Amnesia’s ability to scour your hard drive for long-forgotten apps. And it lacks AppZapper’s nifty sci-fi sound effects (thought the crumpled-paper app icon is a nice touch).

Really, for the most effective and supportive app removal management tool, you’d want some combination of all three, an app that could,

  1. Follow your lead and recognize when you’re deleting another app,
  2. Go spelunking for ancient app artifacts that are clogging the caverns of your hard drive, and
  3. Do it all with panache.

Any one of the apps in this category could “borrow” the capabilities from competitors and steal the show. For the time being, though, we’ll simply have to evaluate each separately and decide which best suits our personal Mac workflow.

One quick note about Hazel: the app’s primary purpose isn’t actually app removal. It’s more of a steroid-enhanced automatic file management and organization attendant that helps support you in the background. App removal is really a tertiary concern of the app.