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#959: October Fun; Optimize Storage; So Many Apps 3


Hello Fellow Technophiles,

If you have never been to Vermont during foliage season, you are missing out on something very special. This year has been particularly beautiful and in many parts of Vermont, we are still at peak foliage, so there is still time to get in the car and get here. If you do come up and plan on going off of the beaten path, which I highly recommend, then you should know that cell phone coverage can be spotty. When I head out into the wild, I always pre-download Google Maps maps to my phone so I can use them in offline mode. Click here to see more details about this great feature.

October also means post-season baseball and since my Boston Red Sox are out, I can join Small Dog CEO Don Mayer and root wholeheartedly for the Cubs. I have always been sympathetic to the Cubs due to their many similarities to the BoSox such as a very old stadium, a famous curse, and a long drought without a World Series championship. Living on the north side of Chicago within biking distance of Wrigley for five years cemented my loyalty and means that I have been to way more games there than I have to Fenway. Click here to follow all of the action with the official MLB app.

And finally, in other October news, our next issue of Tech Tails will come out one day after Halloween, so I wanted to get opinions on a potential costume. See the picture at the left and let me know how I look!

Thanks for reading!


  Storage Optimization  

For years I’ve been fighting the battle of hard drive space on my computers. Some of my hard drive issues were accidental, some have been self inflicted. At least once a year I discover that I’m once again running out of space on my hard drive and I embark on an exhausting and drawn out process of determining what is taking up space and where. This issue has become somewhat of an office joke because it’s something I am always fighting.

When you open up About This Mac on your computer and then select Storage, you’re met with some basic information. The system will give you a very general idea of what’s on your computer and give you specifics on how much space is allocated to Apps, Photos, Audio, Moves and Other. The “other” category is perhaps the biggest mystery when it comes to your drive. Just what is in that “other” category anyway? Programs like Disk Inventory X were life savers for me. This software can help to locate large files on your machine and then you can determine if it’s something you want to remove.

With the release of Sierra and the introduction of storage optimization all of my headaches with space have almost magically disappeared. Before installing Sierra on my Mac I had about 25GB of free space on my hard drive and for the past 6 months or so I have had limited success in freeing up more space. Basic tricks like actually shutting down my computer and rebooting, regularly dumping my trash and trolling through my files have had short term success in creating more space on my computer. Storage optimization has made all of this go away almost instantly, including the annoying ‘other’ category.

When I initially installed Sierra I gained about 10GB of space as unnecessary files were removed, but I wanted more space. Upon looking at my storage I was delighted to see that the other category really is gone! Sierra breaks down what’s taking up space in several categories making it much easier to identify at a glance what file categories are hogging valuable space.

You can see at a glance how much space Mail, Photos, Documents, iOS files and more are using. Click on the manage button in the top right hand corner and it will expand to provide suggestions for storage optimization. You can easily choose to send your photos to iCloud and you can specifically select and turn on storage optimization. Storage optimization will automatically remove iTunes movies and TV shows you’ve already watched and keep only recent e-mail attachments and discard the aging ones. Other options are to set your computer to automatically empty trash for anything older than 30 days or choose to reduce clutter. The reduce clutter option will sort through your documents and other content and delete what is no longer needed once you review the files.

Within the storage optimization options you can click on the different storage categories and see specifics on what is in that category. If you select documents, it will show you the entire contents of your Documents folder and the file sizes. It can do the same with Mail, iOS files, applications and additional categories. No longer do you need to dig through files. You can see everything in one quick view! In going through the categories I uncovered in less than 5 minutes that the major storage issues on my machine were old iOS backups of phones, almost 40GB worth! I deleted all my old iOS backups except the most recent one and significantly increased the amount of free space on my hard drive. Going forward it’s going to be much easier to manager my storage and better isolate my storage troubles.

  So Many Apps: Part 3  

Over my last two Tech Tails articles we’ve looked at uninstalling applications within macOS and discussed what is typically an easy process. In addition, we explored advanced situations where manual digging is required to fully clean and remove applications and files…a daunting and intimidating task for most of us. Luckily a number of developers have picked up on the issue of incomplete application removals and created software that will fully remove all files associated with a program.

Therefore, in my final installment of “So Many Apps,” I am going to take you through three popular applications that I have found to help automate this process. All three help simplify the manual steps of attacking preference files, support items, kernel extensions, and hidden files that we talked about in my last article for Tech Tails, “So Many Apps: Part 2.”

I do want to start off with a quick note about downloading these applications or any applications in fact from the internet. There are many sites that have these programs available for download. My word of caution here is to only download these programs from the manufacturer’s website and not a 3rd-party site. As with any program that you may grab from a 3rd-party site, you are putting your self at potential risk to have other items that you don’t want downloaded with what you actually do want. This is called bloatware and is one of the tricks 3rd-party sites do. Always make sure you trust your source before moving forward with any software download.


The first program on my list is AppDelete by Reggie Ashworth. This program will not only remove applications but also widgets, preference panes, plugins, and screen-savers along with their associated files. AppDelete ensures that apps are completely removed from your Mac. The items you delete will be moved to the trash and arranged in a folder so that you can see exactly what was deleted and you know exactly where it came from. The items will not be removed from your computer until you empty them from your trash. You can also undo the last delete if you choose.

Once you have AppDelete installed, all you need to do is drag the program you want to remove onto its icon. Alternatively, you can also select “Apps” in the top right corner of the interface and AppDelete will reveal a list of applications installed on your system. Searching is very quick and takes just a few seconds for the process to complete.

Immediately, AppDelete will reveal the associated files that need deleting with the applications. These are normally receipts and library preference files. You can uncheck the ones you want to keep in the AppDelete window or remove them all. AppDelete also lets you keep a log of what you are removing. It’s a good idea to save this file as you can use it for future reference in case of system problems and it turns out you’ve accidentally deleted an important file. There is an Undo feature in AppDelete too but it seems this only rolls back the last change that you made, not successive ones before that.

A nice cool feature in AppDelete is their Orphans tool. This tool searches for files that are not associated with any applications in your macOS anymore and have probably been left behind. You can then select all those files and remove them from your system.

AppDelete is offered as a paid for solution but provides a free trial that gives you a chance to explore the program with a limited amount of uses to test drive its effectiveness. To continue use afterwards, you have to pay to upgrade to the full version. However, even if you don’t choose to use it regularly, its very useful for removing orphan files and this can be done within the trial limit. They offer different versions for trial and purchase that support macOS 10.3 through macOS 10.12.


The next program we will look at is AppCleaner by Freemacsoft. AppCleaner is an application that allows you to quickly and completely remove unwanted software applications and all associated files quickly just like AppDelete. AppCleaner is simple thanks to its search function that finds applications easily, fast and efficiently.

Simply drop the unwanted application onto the AppCleaner interface window. When you do that, AppCleaner will look for the related files, present you with a window listing everything it found and you can delete them all at once by clicking the delete button. To move forward with deletion process, you will need to know your administrator username and password. Everything you choose to delete is moved to the Trash, so you can review it before deleting it entirely and if you decide you don’t want to delete an app all you need to do is move it from the Trash back into the Applications folder.

Alternatively, AppCleaner features a simple checkbox uninstallation and tabs across the top of the window which lets you browse through all your installed apps divided into “Applications”, “Widgets” and “Others”. The last category “Other” is interestingly useful as it shows all your plugins and components, which you normally have to go digging for in your Application Library.

AppCleaner’s drag and drop method of deleting applications is easy, but the app offers an even easier way to delete applications. Turn the SmartDelete feature on within the preference menu and it will detect when an app has been trashed and scour your hard drive for files related to your deleted app. Then a found files window opens and offers to remove any files associated with that software to the Trash as well. Remember again, you will need the administrator username and password to move the items to the Trash. Also in the preference menu, you can add launched, default apps, 3D transitions, and others you want to protect from deletion. This could come in very handy for new or less experienced macOS users.

AppCleaner for macOS with its streamlined process is overall extremely easy to use which minimizes any problems and the small lightweight application interface is very easy for even the most novice user.

AppCleaner is offered as a free download and offers versions for macOS 10.4 through macOS 10.12. There is a link on the site to donate any dollar amount to the developer to help support further development.


The final program that I like to discuss with you is AppZapper by Austin Sarner and Brian Ball. AppZapper provides an intuitive way to safely and confidently uninstall virtually any application as easily as it was installed. This is achieved similarly to AppDelete and AppCleaner, by a simple drag and drop interface. You can drag one or more unwanted applications onto the AppZapper window and watch as it locates all the other associated files in one single scan that you might want to delete with it. Once everything is located, you can then delete them with a single click on the “Zap!” button to remove everything in one simple step.

Alternatively, you can use AppZapper’s “Hit List” function to remove unwanted applications. This feature allows you to browse through the applications installed on your computer, select them and remove them together with their related files.

AppZapper isn’t just limited to applications either. It will also list all plug-ins and widgets and let you delete them with a simple click too. AppZapper also features a log that tracks all files you’ve removed and a handy undelete feature just in case you’ve mistakenly removed a program and want to recover it.

Another cool feature I like about AppZapper is “My Apps”. This allows you to keep information about the programs you’ve purchased and their associated information right within AppZapper. As with removing an application, simply drag an app into “My Apps” to create an Info Card for it. Click the card and it flips over allowing you to enter all of your purchase and license details. You can freely organize and sort through your cards, and everything is saved in AppZapper safe and sound so it’s there when you need to reference it.
AppZapper, like AppDelete offers a free trial but has certain limitations compared to the full paid version. This will let you explore the program and give it’s features a spin before purchase. The newest release available on their site for download requires macOS 10.6.2 or above.

In conclusion, we’ve discussed many options for uninstalling software from macOS in my Tech Tails “So Many Apps” series. I hope I’ve provided you with some useful information and that you’ve had a chance to try out a few and do some fall cleanup on your machine. If you have any questions about any of the processes mentioned, please send them along and I would be happy to assist.

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