Giving Google Chrome the heave-ho

Google Chrome Logo

Like it or hate it?

I won’t go into the reasons why you might want Google Chrome on your Mac in the first place, or the reasons you might have for wanting to remove it other than to say this app is a good example of the sort of junk that can get let behind if your way of uninstalling apps is simply to drag them to the trash.

This is just a short post for those who don’t have an OS X application uninstaller (like CleanApp) and who may want to remove as many traces of Google Chrome as they can from their Mac. So without further ado, here is the list of files that you will need to look out for and remove. Note than in the list you will need to replace <username> with whatever id you use when logging on to your Mac.


  • /Applications/Google
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Caches/
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Saved Application State/
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Preferences/
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Google
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Caches/Google
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Caches/
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Google
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Caches/ksurl
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Logs/GoogleSoftwareUpdateAgent.log
  • /Users/<username>/Library/LaunchAgents/

If you use Little Snitch or Hands Off! then you can also go and delete any rules relating to Google Chrome for good measure, such as:

  • Google
  • ksurl

The only thing to watch for is if you are using other Google software on your Mac such as Picasa or Google Earth as these might be sharing some of the common folders and agents. If in doubt, leave it alone is always a good motto!

The elephant gun uninstaller

This morning I was served up yet another reminder as to why CleanApp can be such a dangerous tool in the wrong hands, not that I needed another reminder. However this example is pretty succinct in that it highlights one of the main issues with an uninstaller that offers any file an application touches, as a candidate for deletion.

You see a lot of applications will access your data files, whether that’s documents, spreadsheets or even mp3 files, and in the case of the latter if you go to uninstall an mp3 tagging application then CleanApp may offer to delete any mp3 files you’ve tagged with that application. Case in point The Tagger which I was trying out earlier to see if anything could ever replace my trusty Tag & Rename (which I have to run under VMware Fusion). After messing around with the tags in just two mp3 files, I decided that nice as The Tagger is, it’s not for me (mainly because I do a lot of bulk tagging and The Tagger seems more geared towards tagging a file at a time). So I go to let CleanApp do its thing and as you’ve probably guessed by now, it offered up the two mp3 files I’d edited as being files I should delete! In addition it suggested deleting something called cookies.plist which I am suspecting is a file accessed and updated by any application that accesses the web (The Tagger accesses the Discogs website). Deleting cookies.plist would I guess be the equivalent of purging all your cookies, given that the file does not appear to be application specific.

No... not the mp3 files!

No... not the mp3 files!

In the end I kept the two mp3 files and the cookies file and let CleanApp do the rest. But just imagine the damage you could do if you edited a lot of data files with an application and then let CleanApp do its thing without a second look!

I still like CleanApp but think it really needs more features to help people protect themselves against accidentally deleting stuff they want. It already knows about protecting certain system files, but I think there are a number of ways this could be extended. For example, automatically protecting known Apple applications, protecting data files shared between applications, monitoring an app and protecting all the files it uses, or even protecting files of a certain type such as mp3 files.

While we’re on the subject of VMware (were we?!) I thought I’d install the latest Windows 7 beta build under VMware to have a look. The install went fine and after a quick Windows Update I even had sound working. Then I thought I’d install ESET Smart Security 4 rather than rely on Microsoft’s built-in anti-malware tools like Windows Defender. Result? Well see for yourself…

Windows does its thing

Windows does its thing

Well it is beta and no-one ever said ESET Smart Security 4 would work with it, but the effects are pretty dramatic. I’ll see if I can unpick the mess in Safe Mode, failing that I’ll just do a re-install. After all, it’s nice to keep an eye on what the other side is doing.  As it happens, I also installed Ubuntu 9.04 in another VM, but I’ve yet to make it fall over…

Spotify’s (not so little) little secret

Spotify_logoWhen Spotify first launched I was mightily impressed. A proper Mac client, seemingly unlimited amounts of music that I could listen to for free and unobtrusive adverts. I still love Spotify although as time has progressed some of the shine has worn off. The audio adverts are still thankfully limited to 60 seconds every five or six tracks, but a lot of music seems to have disappeared from the catalogue, and the client now seems to constantly show me banner ads at the bottom and right hand side of the window. Well yes I could pony up £9.99 a month to get rid of the adverts but there’s a bigger problem that’s stoppoing me… performance.

Between about 2pm and 8pm GMT Spotify is unusable. I click on a track, it starts playing for a few seconds then it pauses for about a minute. Then it plays a few seconds more, then pauses again. This cycle is repeated until I get fed up and revert back to listening to my own library of music in iTunes or SongBird. Now I’m not saying this is Spotify’s fault at all. I understand that it streams music to the listener using a variation on P2P technology and that as such it is subject to the vagaries of the internet. My internet connectionm happens to drop from about 6.5Mbps overnight and in the morning to around 1.5-2Mbps in the afternoons. I don’t know who’s fault this is – I am still using British Telecom as my ISP and they aren’t reknowned for their high performance. Then again, the neighbourhood I live in isn’t great either so maybe all my neighbours go online in the afternoons to stream TV shows or surf questionable websites containing top-heavy women and plumbers whose clothes fall off??

Whatever the cause, Spotify is a victim and I can’t use it most afternoons when I’m working from home which pretty much rules me out of paying a monthly premium for a service I can’t enjoy. However, what I have found is that tracks I’ve listened to before and have added to one or other of my playlists will usually play just fine – even during the 2pm-8pm ‘slow’ zone. So Spotify is obviously caching tracks I play which is no surprise.

Wind forward a few months to where I’m looking at another piece of software that claims to be the latest, greatest thing to

The Spotify cache

The Spotify cache

uninstall apps and keep your Mac clutter-free. The imaginatively named CleanMyMac v1.2. Aside from uninstalling apps, CleanMyMac offers a few other housekeeping facilities, one of which is to clear out old caches and I let it do it’s scan to see what it found. Hmmm, it found 4,291Mb of cache files and using the facility to drill down and see what’s there I saw that Spotify had squirreled away no less than 3,652.1Mb of data in Users/~/Library/Caches/com.spotify.client/Storage. Inside were lots of folders containing files with cryptic file names and ranging in size between 400Kb to 2.5Mb. Well it’s not rocket science to guess that they’re music files or pieces of music files that Spotify has ‘downloaded’ whilst I was playing them.

Fortunately, space isn’t at such a premium on my Mac that I need to delete this Spotify cache, and if it means I can still play my playlists without the dreaded play-pause-play effect then it’s a small price to pay. It’s also worth noting that you can actually control the size of this cache from within the Spotify preferences. Now as a little experiment I tried renaming one of these Spotify cache files to have a .mp3 extension to see if it would play in VLC. That really was a longshot and naturally enough VLC had no idea what the file was. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the files are encrypted or specially mangled in some way that only Spotify understands, by way of appeasing the record labels over copyright etc. But you know how these things work, and I’ll wager that right now some geek-types somewhere are trying to figure out how to take these cache files and turn them in to something that other apps can use.

Ok now I know this wasn’t really a review of Spotify, but if you haven’t already tried it, then where have you been?! I mean, where else would you discover the Buddha Bar version of Pink Floyd’s – Any Colour You Like? Couple that with Shazam on the iPhone… I was watching the film Mr Brooks with Kevin Costner and in the closing scene a really haunting peice of music starts playing. Let Shazam listen to a few seconds of it and moments later I was listening to Vicious Traditions by The Veils.

As for CleanMyMac, I’ll have a closer look at it and maybe report back in another article.

CleanApp – Not for the faint hearted

I wrote recently about me experiences with three application uninstallers for the Mac, namely CleanApp, AppZapper and AppCleaner. After my experiences with looking at what CleanApp wanted to remove if I’d chosen to uninstall Apple’s Aperture software, I concluded that while CleanApp was a powerful and useful tool, it could easily delete files you needed if you weren’t careful.

CleanApp incorporates a background process which scans what files an application uses in real time so that it can spot things that other uninstallers might miss. It’s a nice idea but one which makes it a dangerous tool in the wrong hands, and when I went to uninstall Songbird today I was reminded of this. Now I’ve been using Songbird for a while and quite like it, however for some reason it had managed to double up on my music library, the result being that it was showing two entries for every track. Having seen how long it takes Songbird to remove a single track from the library I decided that the best thing to do was to simply remove Songbird and reinstall it. Reaching for CleanApp, I selected Songbird from the list of applications and told CleanApp to prepare for uninstalling it. The picture below shows the list of files that CleanApp wanted to delete.

You want to remove what?!

You want to remove what?!

Now I’ve been a Mac user for a little over a year now and while I don’t consider my self an expert, I think I can spot a few things that look amiss and there were three files on this list that were ringing alarm bells:

  • /Users/rdsh/Library/Preferences/
  • /Users/rdsh/Library/Preferences/
  • /Users/rdsh/Library/Preferences/QuickTime Preferences

By the looks of it, going with what CleanApp suggests would result in certain applications losing a config file they need to access the internet and a possibly damaged QuickTime installation. Needless to say I wasn’t prepared to let CleanApp delete the files just to prove my point. So I fired up AppZapper and AppCleaner to see what they would make of it. AppZapper found the Songbird application itself, the Songbird plist file in the Preferences folder and the Songbird folder in the Application Support library. AppCleaner went one step further and also found the Songbird folder in ~/Library/Caches/ so I let AppCleaner do its thing.

That seems more sensible!

That seems more sensible!

So, where does that leave me? Well I still think CleanApp is a powerful tool but I’m also convinced that if you simply accept what it says and delete the files it suggests then before long you’re going to delete some essential files that your Mac needs. The best approach seems to be to get CleanApp to make its recommendation and to then use AppCleaner to sanity check what CleanApp is suggesting. If CleanApp finds files and folders that AppCleaner doesn’t, then scrutinize each one carefully to make absolutely certain that it’s safe to delete. A good rule of thumb is that if the file name or the path name includes the name of the application you’re trying to uninstall, then it’s safe to delete it. If not, leave it well alone!

Uninstallers – Three for your consideration

I’ve never been great at reviewing software. I could argue that it’s because I’m highly focused and just use the features I need. Alternatively I could just admit that I lack the mental discipline to methodically check every feature to see how it stacks up. In any case, I made a bit more of an effort when it came to looking at uninstallers, primarily because I like trying out software on the Mac and with a good 75-80% of things I try getting trashed for whatever reason, I needed something that would do a thorough job.



So I plumped for three candidates. AppZapper was one of the first applications I bought for the Mac and has been a long time favourite. However, CleanApp caught my eye one day as being a bit more feature rich and I decided to give it a go with interesting results. Finally I thought I’d add AppCleaner to the mix, mainly because it’s a free alternative to the other two.

All three go about letting you choose apps to uninstall in a similar way. Either you drop your victim on to the application’s “pad” or you choose it from a list of apps the uninstaller knows about. This is where the first differences appear in that when you launch CleanApp it quickly builds a list of apps and presents it to you by default, while the other two open in ‘drag n drop’ mode and need to be asked to show a list of known apps. What is also interesting is that on my system, both CleanApp and AppCleaner built their lists in seconds, while hitting the ‘Genie’ button in AppZapper resulted in some furious disk activity for around ten minutes before I was shown the results. Now as you’d expect, each program gave a different figure for the total number of apps it thought I had installed, and this may be (in part) down to how each categorizes what it finds, but the program giving me the highest total of removeable items was CleanApp (269), then AppCleaner (236) and finally AppZapper (231).

Now I briefly mentioned categories and by that I mean the types of things you can install on your Mac. Obviously there’s the traditional apps that go in your



Applications folder (or wherever you choose), but there’s also Preference Panes, Screensavers, Plug-ins, Widgets, etc., and each uninstaller will let you get at these to varying degrees. AppCleaner shows me everything in the Applications folder (including subfolders like Utilities) under the heading of Applications. It also has a separate button for Widgets and finally a button labelled Other for everything else which listed plug-ins, contextual menu items and the like. CleanApp on the other hand considers everything as either an Application or a Preference Pane. In the case of applications it’s anything with the extension .app wherever it happens to reside on your system (although you can chose to exclude folders from the search). Under Preference Panes, CleanApp listed 3rd party preference panes as well as 3rd party widgets, 3rd party screensavers and 3rd party plug-ins like the Evernote web clipper, Flip4Mac etc. The fact that only 3rd party items are listed here is interesting because you’d think it means that standard Apple items are safe, however I found that Apple applications like iTunes, iPhoto and even Disk Utility are also listed as uninstallable applications by CleanApp. Whether or not that’s a good thing I’m not sure, but both AppZapper and AppCleaner offer some sanity checking by not displaying standard Apple applications by default (although you can change that setting in AppZapper), plus they both let you specify other (3rd party) applications to protect via their preferences settings.



Now it’s about time we got down to the main purpose of these three programs and that’s removing unwanted apps and extras from your system. My first test was to uninstall Thunderbird which I’d been trying out for a week. Both AppZapper and AppCleaner said they would delete two files – however CleanApp found a third Library file relating to Thunderbird that the other two didn’t spot. Ok, how about a bigger program like Aperture? CleanApp announced it had found 18 files and 3 folders that needed removing. AppCleaner found 6 files and 2 folders, while AppZapper flagged 6 files and 1 folder for removal. You’d think that for sheer thouroughness, CleanApp is the clear winner here. However, examining the list of items to delete revealed some very interesting results. I use Aperture in conjunction with iPhoto, so even though Aperture has it’s own separate library for storing photos, I can directly access my iPhoto library from within Aperture. What this means is that CleanApp listed my iPhoto library (all 14.1Gb of it!) as one of the files it could remove when uninstalling Aperture, which would of course have been disastrous! This happens because of a feature of CleanApp which is a background process tht watches how applications work – i.e. what files they interact with. So it correctly spotted that Aperture was indeed accessing my iPhoto library and thus offered it up as a candidate for removal. This is where a utility like CleanApp needs caution because in the right hands it’ll seek out the stuff that the other two miss, but in the wrong hands it can and will take away files you’d really rather keep and that may even be necessary for your system to run properly so care is needed.

What would be nice is if CleanApp had a ‘Protect this application’ feature (like the other two do). That way I could tell CleanApp that I want to protect iPhoto, then if I go to uninstall Aperture, CleanApp would alert me to the fact that certain files used by Aperture are also used by iPhoto to help prevent me from mistakenly removing files that iPhoto needs. Sure you can un-check what files to delete once CleanApp has done its assessment, but often files can have obscure names you might not spot as needed by other apps and a helping hand to prevent human error wouldn’t go amiss. CleanApp does go some way to mitigate the problem by offering an Archive facility, so rather than deleting files (which can be done via the Trash to offer a small degree of protection) for apps you want to uninstall, it can archive them to a bespoke CleanApp archive file (with the .caa extension). The selected files are then taken out of service so to speak, but can then be reinstated later via the Archive function. It’s not ideal because it still leaves you to find out the hard way if you’ve removed something needed by another app, but it is better than nothing. I tried this out by going to uninstall Plex (which doesn’t share files from any other application from what I can tell) and then using the Archive option rather than the delete option. A day later and after powering off my Mac over night for good measure, I fired up CleanApp and recovered Plex from its Archive (CleanApp recovers the files to their original locations). I then launched Plex and while I didn’t test every single aspect of the program, what features I did try worked just fine.

A trio of uninstallers

A trio of uninstallers

There are other differences too. I installed six 3rd party screensavers and then had a look to see what my uninstallers made of them. CleanApp only found two of them, because by default it only looked in my Users/<username>/Library/Screen Savers/ folder, whereas four of the screensavers just happened to have installed themselves into the system /Library/Screen Savers/ folder where any user could use them. Yes you can change this behaviour in the CleanApp preferences by adding the relevant paths to search under the Paths tab, but it again emphasizes the fact that you need a bit of knowledge to get the best out of this utility. Both AppZapper and CleanApp found all six by default, and that’s pretty much the theme for uninstalling things using these three tools – AppZapper and AppCleaner will do a lot by default while CleanApp gives you more power but you need to exercise more control.

The final thing is logging or history, and all three will keep a history of what you’ve removed whether you access the logs via a menu item or directly within the application itself. Unfortunately neither AppZapper nor AppCleaner offers an undo facility, although CleanApp does provide this by way of its Archive facility as I mentioned earlier. There’s another app out there that will ‘archive’ applications for you and let you reinstate them later on, although the name of it escapes me at the moment.

As far as features go, that’s about where it ends for AppZapper and AppCleaner, but CleanApp offers a few more things, namely – Old Files, Archives, Languages and Cache Files. Old Files will list files under your home folder (Users/<username>/) that haven’t been accessed for over a month and is a handy way to see what junk you may have forgotten about that you can then delete directly from the list. The list is helpful in that it tells you where the file is, when you last accessed it and how much space it’s taking up.

As I mentioned above, Archives lets you reinstate uninstalled apps that you chose to archive rather than delete. You can also permanently delete archive files from here if you’re sure you no longer want the app and your system is running fine, or you can burn the archives to CD/DVD from within CleanApp itself. I’m not sure if there’s an option to re-import CleanApp archives into the program, but if there is then it’s escaped me for now. Languages looks like it lets you search for language localization files, e.g. for languages you’ll never use so that you can delete them and recover space, but it’s not something I’ve needed to do. Finally the CacheFiles feature lists everything in your Users/<username>/Library/Caches folder giving you a handy way to look for cache files to clear out, for example from apps you uninstalled before you had CleanApp.

There you have it, my potted view of three application uninstallers. So the first question is – are they really necessary? Well that all depends on your point of view and how you use your Mac. If like me you are constantly experimenting with new bits of software, then these are a great way to keep your Mac free of junk files that would otherwise take up space and potentially slow your Mac down. If however you are like some people I know who have only ever installed iWork or Microsoft Office (oh and of course World of Goo!) since getting their Mac, then I guess you probably don’t have the need. That then leads me on to – which one is best?

Well if you’re reasonably non-technical and want to just keep things a little tidier then there’s not much to separate AppZapper and AppCleaner other than the price. AppCleaner is free and will do a reasonably good job so I guess that edges it over AppZapper, but then there’s nothing like the “ZAP!” sound-effect you get when you use AppZapper to purge that useless app with attitude. However for the power user I’d say CleanApp wins for it’s range of features and more ‘thorough’ cleaning, although as I’ve mentioned it can be a double-edged sword and you really need to exercise some caution when using it. Also, I have seen mention of some users complaining that the background scanning process in AppCleaner can slow your Mac down and/or prevent it from sleeping. This isn’t something I’ve noticed, but then it’s only fair to mention it.

Which one shall I keep on my system? Well I’ve paid for both CleanApp and AppZapper so I’ll keep both for now and will compare results when I next come to uninstall apps over the coming months. If it wasn’t for AppZapper there would be a space for AppCleaner on my system too, but if you’re after a free and capable uninstaller then AppCleaner is vastly superior to just dragging your app to the Trash bin. The other thing is that these aren’t the only Mac uninstallers out there. Hazel springs to mind as a program that not only helps you organize files, but also includes an app uninstall feature. There are more and if you have a favourite then mention it in the comments. It’ll keep us all busy until Apple decides to include an uninstaller in a future version of OS X, and even if that happens (you can’t predict anything with Apple), there will be companies offering alternatives.

Finally I would add that although AppCleaner is a handy little app that’s free to download and use, you can make a donation to the author and if you do decide to keep and use it, then I’m sure he’d love it if you sent a few dollars his way!