TUAW Tip: Check the list of files that get installed on your Mac

David Chartier
D. Chartier|05.18.07

Sponsored Links

David Chartier
May 18th, 2007
TUAW Tip: Check the list of files that get installed on your Mac


Most Mac OS X users appreciate the simplicity of Mac application installation; it usually involves nothing more than a drag and drop out of a disk image, or simply unzipping a download. Still, some apps, plug-ins and other digital goodies require an installer, which means you're entering your password and granting permission for a program to place files anywhere on your machine.

If you've ever been curious (or concerned) about this operation, Apple's default Installer app (found in /Applications/Utilities/ and used by most independent software vendors - but not all - use to distribute their products) can display a log of every file a piece of software installed on your machine, accessible under File > Show Files after the Installer finishes its work (but before you quit/close it, of course). As you can see, the log is even searchable, making it easy to sift through those big install operations.

If you want to grab a copy of this log you can of course select all the text and copy/paste to your own file, but most installers (including those not from Apple) should place a copy of the install log in ~/Library/Logs, in which case you can use the Console app (also in the Utilities folder) to browse through those logs and easily mail a copy (with help from this tip) to a friend or developer. Some installers, however, place the log directly on your Desktop or on the root of your hard drive, and in my experience, most of those don't put a copy in the default logs location at all. Tsk, Tsk, guys.

These tools should make a handy addition to your tool belt if you're beginning to keep a more watchful eye on what gets put where by these installers, or of course if you're simply interested in learning more about how Mac OS X is built and where files go to get the job done.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget