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Despite opinions to the contrary, not all packages are installed cleanly in only one directory. Is there a way to reverse the install process of a pkg file, preferably with the original package (or from a repository of information about installed packages)?

Specifically I've installed the PowerPC MySQL 5.4.1 package on an intel MacBook, and would like to cleanly reverse that, recovering the 5.1 x86 install I can see is still there, but not working properly now.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Built into the system there is no option to uninstall the files using an uninstaller so you can either make an uninstaller yourself or remove the files manually.

The best method to determine what files have been installed is to get a hold of the original .pkg if possible. If this is not possible you can also use the receipts instead found at /Library/Receipts. Your biggest issue is when you are dealing with a .mpkg which contains multiple .pkg files as you will then have to find all the seperate .pkg files in that folder (thankfully not that difficult when sorted by date).

Once you have the .pkg file (Receipt or the full install file) you can then use a utility to either create the uninstaller or find the files so you can remove them manually:

Uninstaller

Absolute Software InstallEase is a free program that can create uninstallers from existing .pkg files. Make the uninstaller .pkg file (note: You'll need Apple's Developer Tools installed to actually make the .pkg file)

Manually

Using a program such as Pacifist or a QuickLook plugin like Suspicious Package you can view what files are installed and at what location. Using that list you can then manually navigate to those folders and remove the files. I've used this method personally countless times before I discovered InstallEase, but this is still often faster if the install isn't spread out among many locations.

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Thanks, while the regular 5.1 mysql packages left a receipt, the beta 5.4 mysql packages did not. That's slightly odd. –  dlamblin Sep 6 '09 at 20:34
    
Wow, if I knew this I never would have installed the .pkg to begin with. y u no Programs and Features OS X? –  NobleUplift May 1 at 15:21

This article https://wincent.com/wiki/Uninstalling_packages_(.pkg_files)_on_Mac_OS_X describes how to uninstall .pkg using native pkgutil. I have followed it successfully to uninstall Midnight Commander.

Updated with an excerpt

At some point — I'm not sure which — Apple added an easier-to-use solution in the form of pkgutil.

$ pkgutil --pkgs # list all installed packages
$ pkgutil --files the-package-name.pkg # list installed files

After visually inspecting the list of files you can do something like:

$ pkgutil --pkg-info the-package-name.pkg # check the location
$ cd / # assuming the package is rooted at /...
$ pkgutil --only-files --files the-package-name.pkg | tr '\n' '\0' | xargs -n 1 -0 sudo rm -i
$ pkgutil --only-dirs --files the-package-name.pkg | tr '\n' '\0' | xargs -n 1 -0 sudo rm -ir

Needless to say, extreme care should always be taken when removing files with root privileges. Particularly, be aware that some packages may update shared system components, so uninstalling them can actually break your system by removing a necessary component.

For smaller packages it is probably safer to just manually remove the files after visually inspecting the package file listing.

Apparently, there was once an --unlink option available in pkgutil, but as of Lion it is not mentioned in the man page. Perhaps it was removed because it was deemed too dangerous.

Once you've uninstalled the files, you can remove the receipt with:

$ sudo pkgutil --forget the-package-name.pkg
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I'd recommend using rmdir instead of rm -r; one could also use tac or tail -r to reverse the list of directory names so that they get deleted in the correct order –  Sam Mason Oct 13 at 13:43

I made the same wheel last month, It's called Package Uninstaller, open sourced and hosted on github: https://github.com/hewigovens/PackageUninstaller,

you can download and try it from [here].(http://sourceforge.net/projects/packageuninstaller/files/latest/download)

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Worth noting it will only run on 10.7 or higher. –  Xavi López Mar 30 at 21:04

you can also uninstall .pkg packages with UninstallPKG ( http://www.corecode.at/uninstallpkg/ )

[full disclosure: yes i am the author]

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As the author, you might want to fix the download link to your software - http://www.corecode.at/downloads/uninstallpkg_1.0.6.zip currently 404s... –  fgp Oct 17 at 10:40
    
thanks, its fixed –  user1259710 Oct 19 at 17:54

You can try the suggestions from this site: http://www.entropy.ch/software/macosx/mysql/remove-old-mysql.html. Also, there's an article regarding this on the Adobe support site; here's the link: http://support.adobe.com/devsup/devsup.nsf/docs/52355.htm.

Also, the apps that usually have a pkg file in the dmg usually also have another pkg that is used for uninstalling. I'm not sure if this is true here, but I wanted to let you know to keep the original dmg file.

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