Is there a Mac equivalent to the Windows Registry?

Occurs to me that I delete some software now and then from one of the two Macs I own. I just drag the folder out of Applications into the Trash and Secure Empty Trash.

It this really all I have to do to completely remove an application, or am I running two machines with little fragments of code and instructions that don’t talk to anything- as is the case if you simply Delete software instead of UnInstalling it and cleaning out your Registry.

Where’s the Registry on my Mac ?


MacOSX does not really have anything exactly like a Windows registry, although there is a complex hierarchy of plist files which contain various system and application-specific settings.

Properly designed OSX applications are actually special folders that contain the application code and all the assorted preferences and libraries and junk. (Usually. There’s no guarantee that applications will follow that principal but many of them do.)

In most cases, that’s all you have to do. Applications on OS X are not single files - they’re actually disguised folders that (generally) contain everything the application needs to run. This is the case for all applications that you install by dragging them into the /Applications folder.

Some applications do need to install components elsewhere in the system, and so they use an installer. They’ll come with an uninstaller as well, which you should use to remove them. Microsoft Office is one of these, as are most programs that do something at the system level (a virus scanner, a VPN driver, a printer driver, etc.)

In general though, yes, you can remove an application simply by trashing it.

The only thing that will be left are the application’s preference files, which are stored in the Library/Preferences folder under your home directory. However, these don’t do anything but take up a few KB of disk space. Unlike stray registry entries in Windows, they don’t cause any weirdness. There’s not much point in trying to remove them, and the benefit is, if you reinstall the same application, all your settings will still be intact.

Thank you both so much !!