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Find Programs on Your Mac That You Don’t Want or Need

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 9/16/2008

When you reduce clutter, you improve the performance of your system. Get started here by finding programs you no longer want or need.

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    Getting Started

    When you take control of your Mac by getting rid of everything you don’t want or use, you improve your personal performance and efficiency because all of the junk has been put in the Trash and you no longer have to sift through it to find what you want. One way to do that is to remove programs and applications you don’t use and their related preferences files.

    In addition to removing programs you don’t use, though, you can remove programs you can’t use, such as the image application that installed with an old digital camera you no longer own, printers that have given out, and even programs for an old scanner you no longer use. You may also have programs that have expired such as trial or beta programs, or programs you tried but didn’t buy. Finally, if you’ve recently purchased the newest version of Photoshop, you might no longer need or want Photoshop Elements or similar programs.

    You Mac came preinstalled with things you might not need too. Although I’m not recommending it, you can delete iMovie, iTunes, iDVD, iPhoto, iCal, and other built-in applications if you desire. You can certainly delete what came with earlier Mac editions: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, the trial version of Microsoft Office, and similar programs as you deem necessary.

    Caution! Your Mac probably came with a restore disk, so if you need to reinstall any of the deleted applications that came with your Mac, you may be forced to reinstall the entire OS. There is a trick to installing a single application and it can be done, but it’s a little complicated, so be careful of what you delete!

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    What to Look For

    It’s important to delete programs you don’t use anymore because unnecessary programs take up disk space and require you to search longer for the things you want. They also clutter up your Applications folder and may affect how long it takes your computer to boot up, depending on how the applications are configured. After looking around, you might decide to delete the following:

    · Working programs that you no longer want (genealogy, gardening, home projects, games, and similar applications)

    · Beta programs you downloaded and installed that you didn’t like or that don’t work properly

    · Programs that need to be registered and whose trial versions have expired

    · Freeware or shareware programs that you don’t need

    · Applications that came with older, broken, or unused Web cams, scanners, or printers

    · Programs that shipped with your Mac but you never use

    · Applications in the Applications (Mac OS 9) folder on the HD (if you have one) that were installed but are never used

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    Hardware Culprits

    To further clean your Mac, you’ll want to get rid of programs for hardware you no longer own.

    If you’ve had your Mac for a long time, you probably have software installed that works with hardware you no longer own. This hardware is likely a Web cam, a printer, or a scanner, but it could also be hardware that just never worked right, such as a digital camera or a used CD burner. Take a look around your computer and take inventory of what hardware you actually have. Then, open the Applications folder and see what you can get rid of. I’m betting you’ll find old printer and scanner software, at the very least.

    I make mention of printers and scanners specifically because they are the worst culprits. Almost every printer and scanner past and present comes with programs for enhancing photos, converting them to different formats, publishing or e-mailing them, and similar tasks. If you use a different program to perform editing tasks (which you probably do), these programs are unnecessary. They’re doubly unnecessary if you no longer own or use the hardware.

    Tip: Don’t forget about broken or lost PDAs, software for an old digital camera, pen/camera/Web cam/coffee maker all-in-one hardware, and similar items.

Fine-Tune Your Mac by Uninstalling Programs you Don’t Need and Tweaking Ones you Do

You can micromanage your Mac by uninstalling everything you deem unnecessary and fine-tuning everything else. Beware - This series is not for the faint of heart!
  1. Find Programs on Your Mac That You Don’t Want or Need
  2. Clean Out the Applications Folder
  3. Tweak Programs You Want to Keep