Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Deleting unwanted icons from Launchpad in Lion


On Monday I added my first impressions about Lion, including my views on Launchpad, which I summarised as being a good feature afflicted by two major bugs:

  1. It puts the applications that came with your Mac on the first page by default, regardless of how often you actually use them
  2. You can’t delete any applications unless they were downloaded from the Mac App Store

Thanks to TUAW, there’s a solution to both of these problems, but, unfortunately, it’s like using a sledgehammer to crack an egg. It involves completely resetting Launchpad, by deleting all of the icons, and then just adding the applications that you want. You will, of course, have to spend time dragging and dropping your favourite applications into Launchpad but at least you won’t have a load of applications you never use taking up space.

First of all, make sure you’ve got a backup of your hard disk, just in case something goes wrong.

Next, open Terminal – we’re going to need to type out a few commands. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, then leave it for now until someone comes along with a more elegant solution – or as and when Apple fixes the bugs. Type:

mkdir ~/Desktop/DB_Backup

This will create a folder on your desktop for a backup of the Launchpad database. Although you should also have a full system backup as well. Next, type:

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

Here, we’ve copied the Launchpad database to the backup folder. Now to run the command that will flush out the database:

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

This command runs the SQLite client and tells it to delete the ‘apps’ table from the Dock’s database, then to kill the Dock process. This will make the dock disappear, but OS X will re-launch it for you automatically so it’ll reappear after a second or two. Once it comes back, Launchpad will be completely empty.

To add applications to Launchpad, simply open Finder, navigate to the /Applications/ folder, and drag and drop any applications onto the Launchpad icon on the Dock. Then, once you’ve added all the applications that you want, open Launchpad to arrange them in the order that you desire.

A quick note: any application stacks – where you click an icon and it expands to show more – won’t be deleted by the above commands. The applications within them will, however, so you’ll see a number of empty stacks. To delete them, simply drag an application into them, release, and then drag it out again – the empty stack should now disappear.

It’s a shame that this is such a longwinded process. Apple really should have designed this feature better, as it’s really useful when set up correctly.

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