Applications that strictly comply with Apple’s software design guidelines for macOS and don’t need to be deeply integrated into the operating system, are usually installed by a simple “drag and drop” operation. This means no actual installation is necessary, you just drag the application icon into one of your application folders and can launch it immediately.
For “Apps” bought from the Mac App Store, new, modified rules apply: Apps are installed automatically and they should be removed with the Launchpad application only.
However, macOS automatically creates additional files when you work with a new application, for example files to store the personal preference settings for each user, or cache folders for download files, when applications are accessing the Internet to search for automatic updates, etc. You can simply “uninstall” a drag-and-drop application by dragging its icon to the Trash. This won’t remove all the aforementioned other support files, however. This is were the uninstallation assistant of TinkerTool System can help.
This feature was initially designed for classic versions of Mac OS X which allowed users to install additional operating system plug-ins in specific folders. It no longer makes sense in modern versions of macOS and is not available in macOS Catalina or later.
It is possible to let TinkerTool System search for software components automatically, offering the potential candidates for the uninstallation assistant. The found components will be listed in a table with their names, icons, paths, version numbers, and the dates of last usage. TinkerTool System can search for the following categories of software:
To use the search, perform the following steps:
The job of the uninstallation assistant is to help you to identify all associated components that might have been created by the software component you want to remove. You can let TinkerTool System automatically remove the other files and folders as well, cleaning the entire computer. There are in fact four different levels of clean-up you can choose from:
If you are using the search levels (3) or (4), TinkerTool System will allow you to delete files and folders which are owned by other users. This is a dangerous option which should be used by experienced system administrators only. Please verify each object carefully before you are actually going to delete it.
There are applications which completely hide where and how they store the data or documents you create when using that application (“shoebox apps”). Other applications may give you a choice to define individual file names for documents, but also use their own private area to store the files. Please keep in mind that the user documents created by such applications might be removed as well when you perform an uninstallation.
Before any object is removed, TinkerTool System will list each affected item. You can then decide for each single object whether you actually want to remove it. Perform the following steps:
Note that nothing is going to be removed yet. TinkerTool System will always analyze your selection first and display the items which would be affected. The program will begin to search for these objects after you have clicked the Prepare removal… button. You can interrupt and cancel the search at any time by clicking the STOP button which will appear while the search is running. Note that a search run can take several minutes if your computer or your network hosts a high number of user accounts and you have selected one of the search levels affecting each user.
After the search has ended, all candidates for possible removal will be listed in a table. The table contains the following columns:
The total number of selected objects and the total storage size is displayed right under the table. The two buttons in the lower left corner allow you to select
TinkerTool System does not allow you to bypass the security features of macOS. Although this feature allows you to delete objects owned by other users, you cannot use it to spy out the contents of private files. For this reason, it is not possible to display detail information of files which are neither owned by you or by the operating system, or to move items to the Trash for which you don’t have access.
The selected objects will be removed when you click the Remove button. All objects remain untouched when clicking the Cancel button.
TinkerTool System automatically creates a detailed report on the components you are removing. It will be displayed after and while the removal takes place. After the operation has been completed, you can either save the report to a text file, or print it by clicking the respective buttons in the report sheet.
The list of objects suggested for removal is computed according to Apple’s software design guidelines for macOS. Please note that a few applications may not be fully compliant with these guidelines. In this case, the list of removal candidates might not be complete. This means there could be objects which have been created by the application in question, but have been omitted in the list. It could also occur (although this is very unlikely) that objects are included in the list but have actually not been created by the selected application, so they should not be deleted. Please verify each object carefully before using the removal function.
If you are removing an application which is member of your list of login items, it will be removed from the list as well without reporting this in the table of deletion candidates. For technical reasons, this clean-up is limited to the current user, even if you had selected a search level including all users.
TinkerTool System contains several security features that prevent you from removing important parts of the system. You cannot remove components which are official part of macOS. You also cannot remove applications which are currently running on the local computer.
You should never use this function for software components which have not been installed by a drag-and-drop operation. Applications that came with their own installers or have been using the macOS Installer, which includes Apps from the Mac App Store, usually had a technical reason to do so. In this case it is very likely that more than the usual components have been installed in the system, so they are not following the rules for self-contained applications. The Uninstallation Assistant cannot work as designed in that case. You should remove such applications following the instructions of their vendors.
In addition to user permissions, macOS supports other features to protect the privacy of users and to secure data. One of those mechanisms is based on privacy settings that prevent access to certain domains of a user’s personal data in relation to applications. For example, access to the personal calendars of users can be configured in such a way that only the Calendar application of macOS has permission to process the calendar entries, but no other Apps, even if those Apps have been started by the user owning the calendar.
The decisions which applications should have access to which areas are stored by macOS in a privacy database. All entries can be reviewed in the table at System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy. TinkerTool System offers a user interface to perform Apple’s official procedure to reset these permission entries. The decisions that have been made in the past regarding access to personal domains can be undone, returning to factory defaults. This causes the affected Apps to lose their access permissions and to ask the user again for a decision, the next time access to personal data is attempted.
Note that these settings are system-wide and take effect for all user accounts.
The number of items shown can be very different depending on your operating system version.
To be protected against malicious software, macOS uses several different security techniques that complement each other:
TinkerTool System can evaluate a given software component, such as an application, a code bundle, e.g. a plug-in, an executable file, or a signed software distribution disk image, against all mentioned security checks, showing all details. This allows you to verify the integrity, the source, and the overall security assessment of this software.
Checking a software product is very simple. Just perform the following steps:
TinkerTool System and the security features of macOS will now analyze the selected software. This may take a few seconds, depending on the size of the bundle and the number of embedded subcomponents. The results will be displayed in the lower half of the window:
Many applications that are part of macOS are shown with the Gatekeeper assessment Reject. This is not an error, but the correct result. Most of Apple’s built-in applications indeed do not comply with Apple’s own security guidelines. However, this won’t matter because the affected programs have not been downloaded off the Internet and come from a source trusted by Apple.
All executable files which do not have the form of a macOS application bundle are always rejected by Gatekeeper. Examples are command-line utilities or plug-ins. This is the correct and intended behavior.
Code can be sealed anonymously, i.e. without specifying a valid signature. This is known as ad-hoc signing which will be indicated by a respective marker in the line Seal signed by….
A software distribution disk image can contain multiple applications. If you are testing such an image file, TinkerTool System will only show the security assessment for the container itself. Information exclusive to applications (like sandbox protection) will be missing. An sealed image file should guarantee that its checksummed contents is authentic as well. However, to see the actual results for the individual applications, you’ll have to open the image and point TinkerTool System to one of the files inside.
Only modern disk images can be signed. This security feature is mainly used for software products targeting macOS 10.12 Sierra or later.
Apple has defined a high number of entitlements which are not documented, so they are not known to the general public. Only Apple, and in some cases a few selected developers who could not solve problems with the sandbox otherwise when using the known standard set of entitlements in their applications, have permission to use these undocumented “holes” in the sandbox. TinkerTool System lists these entitlements with the notice Unofficial entitlement and the internal name Apple uses for the related right.