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Something More You Don't Otherwise Get

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So what else is there you don't otherwise get with Mac OS X?

Tracker — The Complete 'Uninstaller'

Trying out new software is something everyone does - especially computer science students. And getting rid of software (and its entrails) is a lot easier than on Windows (where you have that impenetrable jungle known as the 'registry').

But all is not straightforward - even though the punters might claim it is.

There are any number of 'cottage industry' utilities available for a tenner or the double which promise to help you eradicate software you don't want to keep but none of them do more than a few perfunctory operations you could easily do on your own.

  • Nominate the application bundle itself. This is obvious as this is the item you'll drop on their 'OTT' windows.
  • Find the module name and go on searching. This is done by checking the bundle's 'Info.plist' for the key 'CFBundleIdentifier'. This in turn indicates the name of the application's preferences file found in the directory '~/Library/Preferences'.
  • Look in 'Application Support'. This directory's found directly in '~/Library' and many applications leave things here. Unfortunately today many applications leave things in other locations - such as 'Caches' and 'Caches/Metadata' - but most of these applications don't pick them up. So you're SOL.
  • Do a generic scan in the user home area. Scan for files containing the bundle name and nominate them as well.

All these applications - AppZapper, AppCleaner, CleanZap, ZapClean, CleanClean, ZapZap - can do is the above. They can only 'nominate' files for deletion - they can't know. They're only guessing. A lot of times it's good guesswork but very often it isn't - and you're stuck.

Tracker works another way. Tracker actually tracks what applications do. It even tracks what they read - even what directories they enter.

From Tracker there is no escape.

But Tracker does more: remembering those words of Apple echoing in your ears about 'not running software you don't know or don't trust' and remembering embarrassing calamities like Oompa Loompa, Opener, and of course the infamous 'Safari hole' it's obvious you can be hoodwinked into opening something that isn't going to do what you think - or what Apple's Finder thinks.

One of the most painful incidents was how the author of the Oompa Loompa worm was able to disguise his malware payload first at a Mac hacker forum as pictures of Britney Spears' latest offspring and then at MacRumors as pictures of Apple's coming 'Leopard' operating system. The files looked 'legit' enough in the Finder and everyone double-clicked them and got infected.

Obviously that's a danger and that's not good enough so Tracker shows you first - before you launch - exactly will happen if you do.

Tracker also protects you against insidious installers that not only demand you close all other applications but actually go killing off your other applications - and then autocratically rebooting your system. Tracker can handle that too. Tracker can realistically handle anything.

So now you can manage your file system and inspect it and check for anomalies and even security weaknesses and you can track unknown and untrusted software - what else is there you don't otherwise get with Mac OS X?

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