To uninstall an application, or whole piece of software, that has been installed on the apple mac operating system you must first realise the following; especially if you are coming from a Windows computer environment.
The Application - The files that make up an application on the apple mac are usually contained within a "special", hidden, folder whereby its front-end (the "special" folder's front-end) is the actual application icon (i.e. example.app). In other words, the .app file (application icon) acts like a shortcut icon to the actual folders and files (i.e. resources, codes and images) that make up the application as a whole. Hence why you can just drag an application's icon (i.e. example.app file) into the trashcan, or use its MOVE TO TRASH menu-item (option), to uninstall the actual application; because its "special", hidden, folder is also moved into the trashcan.
The PList (Property List) File - Unlike the Windows operating system the apple mac operating system does not have a Registry (one huge database file that keeps a record of common system settings, popular program settings and file locations). Therefore, when an application becomes corrupt on the apple mac for example you cannot just edit one of its corrupted settings. This is because os x (mountain lion) keeps a record of settings and file locations for a particular application or piece of software inside a preferences files (.plist file); which is equivalent to the Windows registry system. Therefore, when an application has a problem you fix it by editing its own unique .plist file as opposed to editing one huge Windows registry file.
Left-Over Fragments - With the above said: It's worth noting that not all of an application's need folders and files are contained within its "special", hidden, folder. Some of its other folders and files (i.e. font, language and registration files) are stored elsewhere in the system; Just like Windows programs have left-over fragments (i.e. data files inside the Program Files sub-folders). This results in the need for a Clean-up / Uninstaller Application to remove those left-over fragments.
The Uninstaller Application - Good software companies will always provide you with some way of uninstalling their softwares packages and applications, either in way of an Uninstaller application or an Uninstaller Script. In some cases the actual Uninstaller may have to be downloaded from the company's website or be contained within the main Installer application/file, perhaps on the Installation CD/DVD, whereby you need to relaunch it in order to have the Uninstall option. If you cannot find any way of naturally uninstalling software or applications you may have to consider a Third-Party Uninstaller (see below).
Now that you know a little more about the apple mac file structure in terms of uninstallation; in this section I will be showing you how to manually uninstall (remove) the anti-virus security software package called BitDefender. One reason for wanting to uninstall it (remove it) is because you don't like it and want to install a different, "better", anti-virus security software package. Another reason could be because you want to reinstall it from scratch, for whatever reason(s), and therefore need/want to remove its currently installed copy/version.
When uninstalling any application you should always try and shut it down completely so that no processes (services and/or tasks) running in the background can hinder the uninstallation procedure. I say "TRY and shut it down" because, depending on the application and/or your type of user account, some of its background processes may be off limits to the currently logged in user. Meaning, you as the Administrator user account might not have enough privileges to shutdown an anti-virus process for example. This is the case with BitDefender - Some of its processes are managed by the Root (Master) user account which is ranked higher than your Administrator user account and therefore has more privileges.
At this point you might be thinking "Okay. I will just log-in with the Root user account and then shutdown the relevant processes". Good thinking! but with something like BitDefender that does not work. It is security software afterall so it's not going to let you shut it down just because you are logged-in with the Root user account. It wouldn't be a great piece of security software otherwise.
With the above said; this does not stop you from shutting down the main part (front-end) of the application. With BitDefender you should begin its uninstallation procedure by right clicking over its docked application icon and from there select (left click on) the QUIT menu-item.
Fig 1.0 Right click on the BitDefender docked application icon and then select the QUIT menu-item
If you don't see the BitDefender application icon in The Dock, don't worry as it just means BitDefender was not set up to have its application icon placed on The Dock, which is quite normal. In this scenario you could shutdown (quit) BitDefender using the application (utility) called Activity Monitor.app instead, which is the equivalent to the Task Manager program IN Windows 7. Activity Monitor.app is located in the UTILITIES folder - FINDER >> APPLICATIONS >> UTILITIES >> Activity Monitor.app.
When activity monitor first opens (below) it will be displaying information about the CPU (Central Processing Unit) activity, but you need information about the currently running processes displayed. So click on the SYSTEM MEMORY button, towards the bottom of the window, to continue. The activity monitor window will then change its content to display information about the currently running processes, cpu activity and more.
Fig 1.1 Select the BitDefender process and then click on the red QUIT PROCESS button
With the currently running processes displayed in front of you (above), identify the process called BitDefender and select it. From there, click on the red QUIT PROCESS button located in the top-left corner of the window and then click on the QUIT button of the message requester that appears. Doing so will kill off (quit) the BitDefender process.....but this is only the main process.
Fig 1.2 Click on the QUIT button to kill off (quit) the selected process
If the main process does not quit, after clicking on the QUIT button, you may have to do the above step again but this time click on the FORCE QUIT button instead. As its name suggests, the action of the FORCE QUIT button is to try and really kill off the process; by stealth if need be, but this is not guaranteed to work.
When an application's main process has been killed (quit) this is normally enough action to have taken in order for you to then drag its main application icon into the Trashcan. Or right click over its main application icon and select MOVE TO TRASH. In this example I'm going to right click over the BitDefender.app application icon, located in the APPLICATIONS folder, and then select (left click on) the MOVE TO TRASH menu-item.
Fig 1.3 Right click over the BitDefender.app application icon and select MOVE TO TRASH from the menu
If you read the notes about The Application at the beginning of this section you will know that by moving an application's main icon (i.e. BitDefender.app) into the trashcan it should also move its associated, behind the scenes, folders and files (content of the "special, hidden, folder") into the trashcan and therefore uninstall the application. In other words, os x (mountain lion) should realise these folders and files are missing (in the trashcan) and therefore shutdown any processes, services and tasks directly associated with BitDefender. Meaning any processes, services and tasks BitDefender shares with other applications or system services for example will not be shutdown - OS X (Mountain Lion) should just forget BitDefender ever existed!
Sadly, in the case of BitDefender, moving only its application icon (BitDefender.app) into the trashcan is not good enough to remove all of its processes, services and tasks and therefore shut it down completely. Why? Because its currently running processes - BDAuthHelperTool, BDCoreIssues, BDDaemon and BDUpdDaemon - are managed by the Root (Master) user account. Logging into the Root user account in order to shutdown these processes will not work! Remember, it is a security application - They are one of the worst to uninstall.
To see the processes managed by the Root user account - BDAuthHelperTool, BDCoreIssues, BDDaemon and BDUpdDaemon - you need to go back to the Activity Monitor application and select the ALL PROCESSES menu-item from its Show drop-down menu; located towards the top-right corner of the Activity Monitor window.
Fig 1.4 Logging-in to the Root (Master) user account will not QUIT the BitDefender processes
So if the - BDAuthHelperTool, BDCoreIssues, BDDaemon and BDUpdDaemon - processes cannot be killed off (actually the BDAuthHelperTool process can be killed off) even after using the Root (Master) user account, what can be done?
If you read The Application notes at the beginning of this section you will know that the "special", hidden, folder contains the needed folders and files that make up the application. And that sometimes an application's icon (i.e. BitDefender.app) is actually a shortcut icon to that "special", hidden, folder content whereas sometimes it is not - Sometimes it is purely an icon whereby when you double click on it it independently launches another file, such as a file in the "special", hidden, folder, which is the case with BitDefender.
So in the case of BitDefender you first move its BitDefender.app application icon into the trashcan and then you move its "special", hidden, folder into the trashcan before restarting the computer. To locate its "special", hidden, folder first right click over the BitDefender.app application icon and then select the SHOW ORIGINAL menu-item. Doing so will show you where the 'viewable' application folders and files live on the hard drive (Fig 1.6 below), but will not show you the "special", hidden, folder simply because its hidden of course.
Fig 1.5 Right click on the BitDefender.app application icon and then select the SHOW ORIGINAL menu-item
Fig 1.6 The general content (folders and files) of the BitDefender folder are in view
In the above example BitDefender's main application folders and files live inside the BITDEFENDER folder located in the LIBRARY folder of the MACHINTOSH HD root folder - Machintosh HD >> Library >> BitDefender - which you could manually get inside if you select your MACHINTOSH HD hard drive folder from Finder, double click on the LIBRARY sub-folder within it and then double click on the BITDEFENDER folder (sub-sub-folder).
To view the content of the "special", hidden, folder which resides in the BITDEFENDER but is hidden of course you right click over the BitDefender.app application icon that is inside the BITDEFENDER folder and then select the SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS menu-item. Remember, the BitDefender.app application icon that is inside the APPLICATIONS folder (Fig 1.5 above) is only a shortcut icon, hence why it has the SHOW ORIGINAL menu-item instead of the SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS menu-item.
Fig 1.7 Right click on the BitDefender.app application icon and select the SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS menu-item
After clicking on (selecting) the SHOW PACKAGE CONTENTS menu-item you are taken to a folder called CONTENTS, which is the "special", hidden, folder. If you then double click on it you will see the true content of that CONTENTS folder.
Fig 1.8 The true content of the CONTENTS ("special", hidden) folder is being viewed
Don't concern yourself with any of the content. I was just showing you the folder structure of a software package, called BitDefender, and how to view its content. All you need to know is that it exists and that it needs to go in the trashcan in order to completely remove (uninstall) the BitDefender Anti-Virus software package.
So to clarify; The "special", hidden, folder called CONTENTS is contained and hidden within the BITDEFENDER folder that resides in the LIBRARY folder. It in turn resides in the MACHINTOSH HD folder. In order to send the BITDEFENDER folder to the trashcan you first need to go inside the LIBRARY folder and locate the BITDEFENDER folder. From there right click over the BITDEFENDER folder and select the MOVE TO TRAASH menu-item.
Fig 1.9 Right click over the BITDEFENDER folder and select the MOVE TO TRAASH menu-item
Fig 1.10 Finder needs permission to move this folder to the trashcan
At this point you should have the BitDefender.app application icon that resides in the APPLICATIONS folder moved to the trashcan, as well as the BITDEFENDER folder that resides in the LIBRARY folder, which means you can now restart the computer. This will ensure that the BitDefender processes - BDAuthHelperTool, BDCoreIssues, BDDaemon and BDUpdDaemonare - are shutdown and that BitDefender will not re-enable itself when the computer returns from its restart.
With BitDefender no longer running and its application folders and files in the trashcan all that remains is to remove its left-over folders and files (fragments) and more precisely its Preferences (settings) files. In the case of BitDefender it has left-over fragments in the APPLICATION SUPPORT sub-folder (BITDEFENDER sub-sub-folder) that also resides in the LIBRARY folder. So you need to delete that BITDEFENDER sub-sub-folder (not shown here) - LIBRARY >> APPLICATION SUPPORT >> BITDEFENDER.
With regards to the actual, "proper", settings files (preferences files) they resides in the PREFERENCES sub-folder that resides in the LIBRARY folder of your user account folder. Example - MACHINTOSH HD >> USERS >> YOINGCO >> LIBRARY >> PREFERENCES. You will not see a folder called BITDEFENDER in the PREFERENCES folder though as it only contains PList (Property list) files whose file names begin with com.bitdefender and end with .plist. Simply select the BitDefender PList files and send them to the trashcan.
Fig 1.11 Select all of the BitDefender PList files and send them to the trashcan
That's it!! The above was more of a lesson on showing you where application folders and files live on the computer in general. In most cases you simply send an application's icon to the trashcan and that's the end of the story. The above examples are what to do when something is stubborn to remove or corrupt whereby you want to reinstall it later but you have to remove it first. So although the apple mac is designed as "Just move it to the trashcan", in some cases that is not good enough.
If you don't fancy the above 'manual removal' method of uninstalling software you could always download a dedicated Uninstaller software package or application. As with all Uninstallers; they might not completely remove all of the folders and files associated with a particular application. They might remove its .plist files for example but then forget about the application support files or vice versa. They might also delete registration files and/or knock out a particular function (i.e. service) of the application with possible side-effects. In other words, always be cautious of Uninstallers.
With the above BitDefender uninstallation its folder and files are currently still in the trashcan.....on purpose. Meaning: If you were to get side-effects from its uninstallation, for whatever reason(s), you could always move the folders and files out of the trashcan and back into their original place - From the trashcan: Select each folder and file in turn, right click over the selection and then use the PUT BACK menu-item (not shown here).
Two popular Clean-Up applications (utilities) for the apple mac are Clean My Mac and Mac Keeper. And four popular uninstaller applications (utilities) are App Cleaner, App Zapper, Clean App and Trash Me. Remember: They might not remove all traces of the software package or application you are wanting uninstalled and/or cleaned, and they might give unwanted side-effects. In other words, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!