How to Remove Apps from Launchpad in OS X Lion

OS X Lion has been out for a while now, and users are beginning to make the switch in droves. Early adopters and cautious users alike are finding the increase multi-touch functionality and various improvements made in Lion reason enough to make the upgrade. One of these changes is the addition of Launchpad, an iOS-like application manager that allows you to quickly select, manage, and organize your installed applications. Unfortunately, the way Launchpad handles pre-installed applications and applications that were added through the Mac App Store is very different.

Unfortunately, discovering how to remove applications installed outside of the Mac App Store isn’t as intuitive as it could be. Here are some tips on how to remove apps from Launchpad on OS X Lion:

Mac App Store Purchase Removal

If you’re trying to remove an app that was installed through the Mac App Store:

  • Start Launchpad
  • Left-Click or Tap and Hold on the app you want to remove, until it starts to wiggle.
  • Left-Click on the X that appears on the upper-left corner of the app icon.
  • Select Delete

Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work on apps not installed through the Mac App Store. For these apps and shortcuts, there doesn’t appear to be a default method for removing these from the Launchpad. Sure, you can delete the application entirely, but what good will that actually do when all you want to do is get rid of uninstallers and other extra files needed for legacy apps?

Third-Party Apps

How to Remove Apps from Launchpad in OS X LionThankfully, there are a few ways around this problem. One of these ways is via a third-party application that accesses and edits the Launchpad database to add and remove applications from Launchpad without deleting them in the Applications folder. One of these apps is Launchpad Cleaner. The free version allows you to manage the first page of Launchpad, remove and return apps, and back up your Launchpad layout and settings. Restoring one of these backups and managing more than the first page requires a purchase of the app for $4.99.

Another alternative third-party application is Launchpad-Control by Chaos Space. While the name of this developer sounds mischievous, it does have several apps under its belt currently approved and available through the Mac App Store. For obvious reasons, a preference pane application that modifies something Apple hasn’t created a pane to modify itself doesn’t exactly fall under the approval terms. Still, I gave it a try and it worked fairly well for me, allowing me to organize, remove, and return apps to the Launchpad menu without hassle or problem. This app is also completely free, but donations are requested by the developer in a non-intrusive way.

Terminal Method

If you’d rather not risk a third-party application, and you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can wipe out your Launchpad menu and start from scratch using terminal commands. Here is the process:

Launch Terminal

Enter the following command to back up your existing Launchpad database and place it on your desktop:

mkdir ~/Desktop/DB_Backup


cp ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/*.db ~/Desktop/DB_Backup/

Next, enter the following command to initiate a wipe of any existing apps in your Launchpad database. This will start you on a clean slate:

sqlite3 ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/*.db “DELETE from apps; DELETE from groups WHERE title<>”; DELETE from items WHERE rowid>2;” && killall Dock

At this point, you should have a completely empty Launchpad, with only the existing folders (app-free) remaining. You can add your apps back to Launchpad by dragging them from the applications directory and dropping them on the Launchpad icon in your dock.

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