Review: AppZapper

Happy Independence Day! I’m sure that due to the holiday, and especially considering the enormously long reviews I wrote over the weekend, a much shorter review is in order. Well, I’m happy to oblige with a review of a nifty little app called AppZapper, a program that helps you give your Mac some independence from old applications that you want to get rid of.

Wait, Why Do I Need an Uninstaller?
The release of Mac OS X in 2001 made installing applications dramatically easier; for most apps, all you have to do is download them in a disk image and copy them to the Applications folder, or really anywhere you like on your Mac. Most apps never require you to run installers; they actually “install” themselves as needed when you first open them. And with the Mac App Store, even that simple process is now handled for you.

But applications are more than just the app icon itself; applications also add a bunch of additional files littered throughout your system which allow it to store information about itself on your computer. Other apps may even include a bunch of additional content that similarly gets tucked away. So if the day comes when you no longer have any use for certain apps, simply deleting them from your Applications folder still leaves a lot of data files and such orphaned on your hard drive, taking up space.

Don’t Just Uninstall It, Zap It.
AppZapper helps you uninstall your applications swiftly and easily. When you first open AppZapper up, you’re presented with a little drop zone where you can drag and drop one or more apps. AppZapper immediately searches your Mac for all of the hidden system files that are related to that app, and presents them to you in a neat little checklist just in case it identified a file by accident. All you gotta do is click the Zap! button, and BOOM! Your screen flashes, a cool sound effect is played, and those files are moved to the Trash. (You still have to empty the trash yourself to finish the uninstall, which of course gives you one last chance to change your mind.)

By default, AppZapper keeps all Apple applications “safe” so that you can’t accidentally delete a built-in Mac OS X program, for example. You can turn this off in preferences.

Save Your HIts, and Your Hit List
AppZapper also includes some other great tools to help you manage your apps. Click on the little switch on the upper-right of the drop-zone window, and the window expands to reveal the Hit List. The Hit List lets you set a number of criteria, so that it can show you all your applications, Dashboard widgets, preference panes, and plugins (or all of the above) over a specified filesize that you haven’t used in the last specified time period, giving you a birds-eye view at the apps and programs that are cluttering up your system. And of course, you can instantly assign any of the selections to be zapped.

The Hit List does have a little drawback if you use certain apps that don’t actually use a Dock icon; for example I have some apps that operate as a menu bar icon and thus are open all the time, although AppZapper’s Hit List claimed that I haven’t ever used them. So as always, be judicious before you start deleting stuff.

Last but not least, AppZapper offers a really nice My Apps window that provides a unique card-based interface for saving a list of apps that you do intend to keep, and also to store serial number/license information for those apps.

I typically have well over a hundred apps installed on my computer at any particular time, and I often try new ones and stop using old ones quite frequently. AppZapper is an incredible tool for those times when I need to uninstall old apps that I have no use for anymore and have the confidence that I’m using my hard drive’s space to its fullest. I highly recommend AppZapper to anyone whose Mac is due for a bit of spring cleaning.

The Nitty-Gritty
AppZapper Version 2.0.1 by Austin Sarner and Brian Ball
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $12.95 (free trial available)
Download: AppZapper Website

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About Douglas Bell

I live in Washington, D.C., and work as a Broadcast Technician at WAMU 88.5 FM, the local NPR affiliate in the Washington metro area. My primary shift is to engineer the local feed of NPR’s Morning Edition, including local news and weather, long-form features and station breaks… and yes, the shift starts at 5 am, so I’ve got the whole quasi-nocturnal thing going on. I am also the Coordinating Producer for Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie, an independently-produced podcast and public radio program. Extracurricularly, I play cello, and participate in a church choir and a handbell choir. I enjoy discovering new places, and am constantly searching for the perfect cheeseburger. I am also known as a frequent teller of puns.