Mac OSX Lion - Moving built-in apps

Posted on 2012-03-28
Last Modified: 2012-03-30
Is there a way to move the built in apps out of the Applications folder into a subfolder?  There are a lot of them that I don't and won't use.  I would like to get them out of sight.
Question by:techjws
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Eoin OSullivan
ID: 37782646
Yes, you can safely move MOST OSX  Applications into a subfolder in the Applications folder on OSX to keep things tidy.

I would recommend that you created folders inside the Applications folder and move the apps in there and not put them in folders on the desktop or in your user home folder.

There are a few exceptions such as MS Office or Adobe Suite which may have problems if you move them from the folder where they were originally installed.  You can try and move them and if you get errors .. move them back to their original location.

Make sure the Applications you want to move are not open and running as this may cause errors.

Author Comment

ID: 37786472
I don't have a problem with add on apps, whatever their source.  I haven't even had problems with MS Office.  But I can move the built in apps such as Stickies, Photo Booth, Chess, etc. that I will never use.  Strangely, they can be copied, but not moved.  I can't find a work around for this.  You can't delete them, which kind of makes sense.  Drag copies.  Alt-drag copies.  Command-drag copies.  I don't know of anything else to try.  I'm pretty new at the Mac OS.  I was hoping that someone might know a command line preferences tweak that might enable this ability.  Maybe it's possible to just hide them?


LVL 22

Assisted Solution

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
Sigurdur Armannsson earned 50 total points
ID: 37786499
I would recommend not to fiddle with the Application folder although it is possible. This is because many application updates expect the applications to be in there.

Instead you can use the Dock to line up the applications you need to access all the time. You can also manage applications in the Launchpad. There you can group the applications together, the ones you don't want to see or use. Just drag one application there over another you don't want and it will form a group. Then you drag more into the group.

On top of that you can also use launch applications like Quicksilver which is free or Alfred which is available as free or paid power version. Fabulous launcher.

This way you can simply ignore the Applications folder and live in peace.
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Author Comment

ID: 37786538
I use the dock for the most frequently used things, but I'm a technical user as well as musician and artist (and very ADD) so I have lot's of stuff and like some sort of clean but flexible hierarchical system.  

The potential issues with updates makes sense though.  But just for kicks, do you know how to move the built-ins then?  

I'm an iOS user but I don't really like Launchpad, but I've read from some sources that Apple is moving toward integrating the platforms so maybe that's inevitable.  

Alfred is out.  I've looked at the free version and I just don't have the money for the paid version.  But I'll check out quicksilver.  I'll check out.  

Thanks.  Jon.
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Eoin OSullivan earned 50 total points
ID: 37786549
Some applications are "owned" by the system and are a bit tricky to move as you need root permissions.

In Terminal you can run a command called mv to move the APP file but to move an APP that is not owned by your curren user ... you'll need to first change to the Applications folder and view all the apps using the following commands in Terminal

cd /Applications
ls -al

Open in new window

Now you COULD make a new folder ... move the APP to this folder
mkdir UnusedApps
mv UnusedApps/

Open in new window

If the mv command fails because your user does not have permissions ... in this case you use the command ...
sudo mv UnusedApps/

Open in new window

I would agree with sigurarm and caution you that moving OSX apps may cause issues with those apps in future and will also affect updates & upgrades in certain cases.

An alternative is to create a Folder in your own User Home Folder called something like MyApps
Using the Apple +Option keys you can drag an alias (shortcut) for all the APPS you like into this folder so it only has the APPS you want to see.
You can drag this folder onto the right side of the DOCK, into the left menu in the window browser and have a personalised Applications folder.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37786579
Ok.  Between those solutions I think I can do what I want to do.  Thanks for you help.
LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 37786582
To move the applications this should work, but I have noticed when I have tried to move such apps that I get a sign saying that some of these are required to be in there.

But this is how it can be done.

Open up /Applications/Utilities/Terminal
Type in: sudo mv -v
One or more spaces behind the mv. Drag the application in question in behind the mv -v. Add one space and drag the folder you want the application to be moved to.
Hit return /enter
You will be asked for your main password. Enter

Explanation: sudo gives you super user power
mv is move
-v makes Terminal write what it is doing

Start with some innocent app like Stickies and after you have moved some successfully you can drag more than one at the time.

Quicksilver is very special and it might take you a little time to get used too but it is really powerful as a launcher and much more. Give it some time to get used too. You will find some useful stuff about it online.
LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 37786587
Ahh wrote it down perfectly as a pro. My Terminal way is the beginners way. :D

Good luck.

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