How to Nuke Lion’s Launchpad and Start Over

How to Nuke Lion’s Launchpad and Start Over

One of the hallmark user features in OS X Lion is the iOS-like Launchpad. From the Launchpad, you can view, open, organize, and manage all of your Mac apps just like the iPhone and iPad.

While some may love Launchpad, many have voiced complaints over the confusing nature of how Launchpad handles Mac apps. In this post, we’ll show you how to completely clean out your Launchpad and start over.

When you delete an app from the Mac App Store in Launchpad, you delete it completely from your machine. Apps that are downloaded from the Mac App Store can always be easily re-installed, but that’s still an issue if you’re trying to clean out your busy Launchpad.

What’s even more confusing is that non-Mac App Store apps cannot be deleted from Lion’s Launchpad. That means one thing for the end user: confusion.

If you’ve got an overwhelming amount of app icons glaring at you from your Launchpad, then we’ve got just the trick for you. The following method will totally nuke your Launchpad clean of all app icons.

Developer Loren Segal outlines the “nuclear option” through a step-by-step process in Terminal that will empty the Launchpad database. He cautions:

“Before you do this, realize that this command will delete data. If you care about how your apps are setup in Launchpad, you will want to backup the .db file below. Do it before issuing the command.”

Step 1: Open Terminal on your Mac (located in the Utilities folder).

Step 2: Backup your current Launchpad database in case you need to restore it. Type this into Terminal:

mkdir ~/Desktop/DB_Backup

Step 3: Now, enter this text to actually copy the database:

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

Step 4: Enter the following command:

sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db 'DELETE FROM apps;' 
&& killall Dock

That’s it! You should now have a blank Launchpad. Some of your (now empty) app folders may still be there, but you can easily clear those too by dragging an app icon in and then dragging it back out. The folder will then disappear.

Let us know how this tutorial worked for you in the comments! Are you happy to have a clean, fresh Launchpad?

[via TUAW]

  • madbonkey

    Works but leaves a bunch of empty folders in my LaunchPad. How do I get rid of those? If  I click & hold until they jiggle, no “x” appears in the corner.

  • gdkid2010

    Works great! Expect for the fact that the folders are still present

  • HenryMcNinja

    Being niave I thought that Launchpad might have worked like the applications folder and I put a YouTube downloader in Launchpad and not the Applications folder and now have it stuck there unable to delete and i guess also unable to ‘Nuke’ seeing as its still there. Oh well time to try something else >.<

  • HenryMcNinja

    It would appear Launchpad doesn’t like screenshots. You can just see it though

  • Michael Black

    I think this whole launchpad is utterly pointless. I just don’t get the point of it. Ok, fine, bring some of iOS functionality to OS X, but this is the thing you’re going to utilize? Why would I open launchpad when I can just as easily find my apps in the Application folder on Finder. Or create an alias for said app folder on the dock?

    Perhaps it’s to initiate the new and confounded folks. Ok, I guess I get that. But then at least allow those of us that know what we’re doing some easy ability to configure it.

  • M?rk Galloway

    i got everything out, but don’t know how to put things in, boo

  • Robert Pallante

    Will you show us how to restore it?

  • Chase Hausman

    Drag the app icon to the Launchpad icon. (assuming it’s still in the dock
    )

  • Carlos Francisco Suarez Doriga

    Nice tip, though I reaarrenged all my icons yesterday. 
    Just a quick question, I have an app (MSN) that I haven’t bought it in the Mac App Store and I wanna delete it. How do I? ‘cuz when I keep clicking on the icons of the apps, they star to jiggle, though, there is no an “x” to click on and delete the MSN.

  • Eduardo Malheiros

    I’m sorry, but there’s no rational reason for anyone to do that, in my opinion. The problem with people these days is that they prefer deleting something than actually try to use it. Launchpad is not a mass. I mean, it can be, but it not necessarily is and the reason for that is YOU are the one responsible for getting it the way you want it to be. And that, my friends, is the simple reason why it’s better or just as good as the Applications folder of the Finder or it’s shortcut commonly attached to the Dock that we’ve been using so forth (myself included). See, by removing icons like Unninstalers, Suite Folders and Support Applications of the way you can group only the Applications you most commonly use, side by side! And the best part is that you can either click on the dock icon (if you want to), performing exactly the same “action” as you would do with the folder shortcut, as much as you can also perform a gesture – something that under MacBooks and Trackpads feel much more natural and effortless than clicking. Besides, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to use it, but why not leaving the way it is? What if another person wants to, or something? Just remove the shortcut from the Dock, disable the gesture under the Preferences and forget about it. No big deal.

  • alesie77

    i paid $ 32.86 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Sony laptop for $ 94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $ 650 and it only cost me $ 51.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, oo.ki/ffs

  • Dave Perkins

    Drag an app in and then drag it out.  The folder will disappear!  

    I like Launchpad…now.  It’s nice to have been able to get rid of the clutter.  It makes it easy (and easier than searching for the app in spotlight) to launch an app that you either don’t have in the dock, or if you’re currently in a full screen app.

  • James

    This tip doesn’t remove Launchpad.  It just resets it.

  • M?rk Galloway

    sweet, i knew it had to be something crazy easy like that, thanks

  • Lee Hinderstein

    Didn’t work at all, HATE Launchpad!

    How about someone writing something for those of us who don’t know command line unix!

  • djrobsd

    Launchpad sucks.  I didn’t buy an $1800 dollar Macbook Pro to have it act like an Ipad.  Apple is really lame trying to cram the idea of touch computing down our throats, if I want a touch computer I’ll buy an iPad or some other tablet.  In the meantime, I’m NOT using Launchpad, I’ll just keep clicking on that nice little spotlight icon top right and typing in the first few characters of the program I want to use.  Fastest way to get instant gratification.

  • FenTiger

    try ctrl+spacebar rather than clicking….

  • robgilgan

    I wasn’t even going to try Launchpad, it seemed just dumb. But I have a Magic Trackpad and I tried the gesture and – be damned if it isn’t a really quick way to access and launch apps. I still forget occasionally, but I was wrong on  this one. It’ll become the default within a couple more days, I’m betting.

  • Junaidkureshi

    Download appzapper

  • Junaidkureshi

    I dont know why people complaint so much, if you dont like launchpad dont use it.

  • Michael Snape

    Launchpad is great if your a trackpad person because it works like this. Your primary apps go into the dock. Your secondary apps go into the front page of LaunchPad. Your almost never used apps go into the back pages of LaunchPad or can be accessed by using spotlight or the apps folder. For me to do (cmd + space) may be faster if my hand is on the keyboard, but for me to do a simple gesture then have all my second most common apps right in front no searching or surfing through my applications folder, why not? Now fine there are people who simply are keyboard guys who have their hands on a keyboard 24h and probably use some PC ergonomic keyboard fine, don’t complain that they offered a feature just don’t use it like everyone is saying. Its a computer where we get our options, and we make our choices.

  • Emmanuel Restakis

    If you spend a couple of days organizing the thing it kinda works….if you buy a new Mac (with no apps) it should look great….

  • ventifact

    How do you force Launchpad to alphabetize? Mine is so scattered as to be of no real use.

  • Lloyd William Miller

    this doesn’t work for me i just get sqlite3: Error: too many options: “DELETE FROM apps;”

  • Nutz320

    Cmd + spacebar. To djrobsd: Somehow, I don’t see normal users complain that Apple is shoving the Terminal down their throats and that OS X is getting too geeky, yet geeks complain that Apple is shoving Launchpad down their throats and OS X is getting “too simple”, when Spotlight, Finder, the Dock, QuickSilver, Alfred, and all manner of ways to lauch apps still exist.

    And don’t give bullshit about how Apple is losing touch with their “roots” of openness (1984) and the professionals. Apple’s slogan was, “the computer for the rest of us!” This is their roots and their intended audience all along.

  • Nutz320

    Cmd + spacebar. To djrobsd: Somehow, I don’t see normal users complain that Apple is shoving the Terminal down their throats and that OS X is getting too geeky, yet geeks complain that Apple is shoving Launchpad down their throats and OS X is getting “too simple”, when Spotlight, Finder, the Dock, QuickSilver, Alfred, and all manner of ways to lauch apps still exist.

    And don’t give bullshit about how Apple is losing touch with their “roots” of openness (1984) and the professionals. Apple’s slogan was, “the computer for the rest of us!” This is their roots and their intended audience all along.

  • myglasseye

    Alternatively, don’t go anywhere near the dreaded Terminal and use Launchpad Control:

    http://chaosspace.de/dev/launc

  • ezhabit

    LAUNCH SUCKS ASS…work in progress! Shame on apple.
    These guys got it right with QuickPick – I Love it!

    http://www.araelium.com/quickp

  • mai duc chung

    The usual idea is that you would use NFC to set up the link between the two devices and then do an automatic hand over to a different protocol for doing the actual transfer of data – eg Bluetooth,iphone 5

  • mai duc chung

    The usual idea is that you would use NFC to set up the link between the two devices and then do an automatic hand over to a different protocol for doing the actual transfer of data – eg Bluetooth,iphone 5

  • Scott Pendleton

    I think this is a great tip!!!! I’m not sure everyone understands that this will allow you to clear out the LaunchPad database so that you can configure it to your liking. After using this tip, I was then able to drag only the Apps I wanted from my Applications Folder onto the LaunchPad icon. Those Apps that I chose were then the only ones in LaunchPad. Note: I did have to do some re-arranging within LaunchPad because the Apps I added were spread out over several screens for some reason. It was simple to drag them to the left, one at a time so that they all ended up in the first 3 screens. Thanks Alex!

  • Brian Moore

    didn’t work. i wanted to start with a clean slate, but i get this,
    -bash: syntax error near unexpected token `&&’
    bummer… i guess it’s back to the old fashion way…

  • Fofer

    Indeed.  I started to use the Launchpad instead of the Dock (and used the Dock merely as a currently-running-task switcher.)

    Since my Mac has hundreds of apps installed… I took quite a bit of time to fashion the Launchpad, just so.  With one page of apps I use on a regular basis.  

    After a few days, my meticulously crafted Launchpad went wonky (DB corruption, who knows) and all the apps came back.  15 pages or something.  Good thing I’d made the backup, right?  Yeah, not so much.  I restored to the backup and the icons I’d placed came back… followed by 15 pages of all the other apps.  Unless there’s a way to restore to a backup, then what’s the point of making the backup?  And if Launchpad gets in a habit of going corrupt like this for no reason, then, well, I’m just going to stop using it.  Too much of a pain in the butt for not enough gain.Launchpad needs a LOT of work before it can be embraced by a power user.  There needs to be an easy way to mass-remove all extra apps you don’t want there, and the DB can’t just go corrupt for no reason.ezhabit recommends “QuickPick” below, I’m going to try using that instead.  Hopefully I’ll be able to set it so that it can be invoked by the same gestures and hot corners.http://http://www.araelium.com/quickpick/

  • Fofer

    Thanks for this.  I’m sick of Launchpad, without an easy way to remove all these extra apps… and without a way to restore from the backup DB… it’s just too much work to maintain.  I’m going to check out QuickPick.  It looks good and far more versatile.  I’m going to set it up today and see if I can use it as a Dock/Launchpad replacement.  Hopefully I can invoke it with the same three-finger-and-thumb pinch gesture (maybe with BetterTouchTool?)

  • Fofer

    Thanks for the advice about backing up the .db file.  No one’s told us yet how to RESTORE though.  Simply renaming/replacing the .db file as you’d expect doesn’t work.

    I’m done with Launchpad.  It sucks.  Totally not functional nor customizable for a power user.  It’s fighting me every step of the way.

  • Rv

    Make a folder of shortcuts and drag it to the dock for your secondary apps, just use the dock for your main. No need to type and search with Spotlight…

  • Russell Hemstock

    I thought it was pointless until I got the magic trackpad.  Opening launchpad with a gesture makes much more sense then clicking with a mouse.

  • Ghost Anarchy

    I just deleted the stupid Launchpad from my dock, then dragged my Applications folder to the tray, set as view as folder and List view only, now I can access all my apps like I always have.  Now if I can figure a work around for the lack of Spaces vs the new and quite worthless Desktops of Mission (de)Control.  Leopard is so far superior to Lion!

  • ElmerCat

    It took a little practice to get the hang of Launchpad, but now I’m really sold on it. One great feature I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere, is that it works even when the Finder becomes unresponsive.

    When I tried to restart the other day (due to something completely unrelated), the system hung with the old spinning beach ball. The only program still running was the Finder, but it was locked up so I couldn’t get to the Apple menu and the Force Quit dialog.

    However, I had previously assigned a Hot Corner to Launchpad, and it was still working! It started Activity Monitor, and I was able to kill the hung Finder process, allowing the system to restart without having to resort to the power button!

    But beyond that, the interface grows on you the more you use it. It’s faster, more organized and just more elegant than the old way of launching apps via the Dock and/or Finder. If you don’t have a Magic Touchpad, assign Launchpad to a Hot Corner; put your most often used apps on the main page and nearest to that corner.

  • Saavykas

    Doesn’t sound hard in theory. Make a piece of software that binds 4 desktops to arrow keys.

    But you’re flat-out wrong if you call the desktop system useless. “Doesn’t suit my uses” doesn’t equate to “useless”.

  • teri

    same thing happened to me.

  • teri

    fixed it, you have to take out the “&&”

  • Christopher Cobble

    Makes sense. But I just used MagicPrefs to assign a two finger down swipe to open Launchpad with my Magic Mouse.

  • kennywyland

    Step 4 didn’t work because i had multiple db files in that directory and sqlite3 doesn’t accept multiple files. Instead I had to specify the specific file, it was a long combination of letters, numbers, and dashes (a serial number). This worked for me (replacing the Xs and Ys with your real file name:

    ls -l ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/

    That showed a file listing like this:

    palanthas:~$ ls -l ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/
    total 127008
    -rw-r–r–+ 1 kenny staff 64966656 Feb 16 12:03 XXYXYXY-XYXY-YYYY-YXXY-YYXYXYYXYYX.db
    -rw-r–r–+ 1 kenny staff 53248 Dec 31 18:52 desktoppicture.db
    palanthas:~$

    So, then I used that long filename instead of the *.db in the original step 4, like this:

    sqlite3 ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/XXYXYXY-XYXY-YYYY-YXXY-YYXYXYYXYYX.db ‘DELETE FROM apps;’ && killall Dock

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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