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Is there a way to find a list of all applications installed on a Mac in either /Library or /System?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Unless you've been doing something unusual with your system, your /Applications folder (and any ~/Applications folders) is your list of installed programs. Mac OS X doesn't have a central location where programs can register themselves as installed, the way Windows does. If you're looking to uninstall something, you would drag it from /Applications to the trash, or you can use a program such as AppZapper to help find any other parts of the app stored in /Library or ~/Library.

If you use MacPorts, then you would also use the port installed command to see any programs it has installed.

/System only contains files placed in the system by Apple. Regular apps do not write there.

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Thanks. I was just wondering since Apple's "Archive and Install" upgrade feature only retains Apple-approved applications, so I wasn't sure if I could get a list or not. – waiwai933 Jun 1 '10 at 4:38
+1 for apzapper that thing. – Bryan Schuetz Jun 3 '10 at 19:35

Doesn't cover all installed applications, but simple enough and works for me:

find /Applications -type d -name '*.app' -prune -print

You can use above for /Library or /System.

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One option is to use mdfind:


It doesn't include applications inside other application bundles though. Also Spotlight doesn't index some directories, like directories that start with a period.

Another option is to use lsregister:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -dump|awk '$1=="path:"'

The output might include applications that have already been deleted. You can avoid that by adding -kill to rebuild the Launch Services database, but it makes OS X show the warnings about opening applications for the first time again.

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