How to Remove Programs (Like MacKeeper) That Access Your Mac’s Kernel

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How to Remove Programs (Like MacKeeper) That Access Your Mac’s Kernel

How to Remove Programs (Like MacKeeper) That Access Your Mac Kernel

If you’ve installed an antivirus, system cleaner, or similar, then chances are, you will have difficulty removing it. Programs like Norton and Mackeeper access a part of your computer known as the Kernel, which isn’t deleted during standard uninstall procedures. As a result, you will most likely still have the program on your computer, or at least traces of it.

CCleaner – CCleaner for mac is a very useful free tool that will help you fully uninstall programs. While you can do this yourself, it makes the work a lot easier, and helps you with removing registry files and fully uninstalling programs. It might not always take everything out of the Kernel, but it is worth a go since it’s free. You do not have to buy the paid version. CCleaner also has a number of free cleaning features that are handy on an everyday basis. You can use the uninstall program option in the menu tab once you install it.

Why Do Some Apps Access the Kernel?

Any app that has to provide security or cleaning has to access the kernel in order to perform those functions. The kernel manages operating system requests, so most apps don’t need access, which means that the standard uninstaller does not remove Kernel access files. When you install an antivirus, it does access those files, because it has to send system requests.

Removing Kernel Access Files

Whether you’re using a new antivirus, hate your old one or just want to clean up your computer, removing these programs can be difficult. The first thing you should do is delete the program the normal way by going into Apps, finding it, and dragging it to the trash bin. This will delete most of the files, as well as the actual program.

Search – Use the Spotlight function to run a search for the name of the program to see what comes up. You might still have your initial download file, you might still have the uninstaller, and you might still have the actual program coming up. One consideration is that some programs install in multiple places, so you will have to drag each instance to the trash. You should also check for shortcuts on your desktop and your toolbar.

Once you’ve done that, search for the program developer, and repeat the process dragging all options to the trash (unless you have other software from the same company). For example, “Symantech”.


Every Mac has two library locations and you will unfortunately have to delete files from both locations. You have a system library and a user library.

User Library – You can find your user library under your ‘device name’, and then scroll down to ‘users’ and select your user name folder. Open that, scroll down to ‘Library’, open that, and then look for the developer or program name on a folder, and drag and drop it to the trash. You’ll also have to check individual library folders like “Preferences”, “Startup Items”, “Application Support”, “Preference Panes”, and “Launch Items” to make sure you get every folder.

Computer Library – Your hard drive has its own library folder, which you can access by opening Finder, and selecting your main hard drive from the side bar menu. This should have your computer name on it, or Mac or similar. Click on the arrow beneath it to show additional folders, select ‘Library’ and repeat the process from the above User Library step. This can be time consuming, but it is the only way to get everything out.

Kernel Extensions & Hidden Files

Once you’ve made sure that the normal files from your application are gone, you can go ahead and delete them. This is the most tedious part of the process, because you will have to go through files manually. Open your library and go to Systems/Library/Extensions. Look for files with the name of the developer or program with a ktext ending (symantech.ktext) and drag and drop them to the trash.

Show Hidden Files – Go to Finder, Visit Applications, and Select Utilities. Open Terminal and paste in: defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES

Press ‘return’ and then hold the option/alt key, and right click the finder icon on your dock. Select ‘relaunch’. Look through your files again, and delete anything with the program or developer name.

To return hidden files to hidden, repeat the steps, but swap out the YES in the pasted text for a NO.

Deleting programs with Kernel access can be a lot of trouble, especially if they redownload files. However, you can do it, unless they specifically block you from deleting the program. If this is the case, you can file a report against the program and then boot your Mac in safe mode (Reboot and hold the Shift button during startup) and delete the program from there.

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Proliferate writer, sesquipedalian, techie, Apple fangirl (don't judge),tree hugger, yogi, tea drinker, zombie hunter. Into philotherianism & philomathy. Love my job. Visit me on Google +

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