List Applications and More

List Applications and More
Mac Tip #349, 30 July 2008

A colleague recently mentioned he was making a list of all his software — his computer had been in the shop for repair and he felt he needed a backup list of software in case something else went wrong.

Such a list is a handy thing to have, so I thought I’d mention 3 separate ways you can easily compile a list like that.

I’m using Mac OS X 10.5.4, Leopard. It’s possible older versions of Mac OS X may behave differently.

Method 1: Copy and Paste

This is the easiest way. Open your Applications folder in the Finder. Select All (Command A, or Edit > Select All) and choose Copy (Command C or Edit > Copy). Now open a text document and choose Paste (Command V or Edit > Paste). A list of all your Applications appears.


  • before the Copy and Paste operation sort the list by Name — the pasted list will also be alphabetical.
  • also use the disclosure triangle to open the Utilities folder. Items from within that folder will appear within the pasted list.
  • Use this technique on any folder that’s open in the Finder.

Note: you have a text editor on your Mac — look for TextEdit in the Applications folder.

Method 2: System Profiler

The System Profiler lists many aspects for your Mac, including the Applications.

The System Profiler lists many details for your Mac, including the Applications.

This is also very easy. Open Applications > Utilities > System Profiler. A window opens, displaying a list of Contents on the left. Select Software > Applications in that list. The right-hand pane displays a list of all your software, including version numbers.


Choose File > Save As from the System Profiler menu, and for File Format choose either Rich Text Format or Plain Text, then save the profile.

Save a System Profile as plain text.

Save a System Profile as plain text.

Open the saved file with your text editor to see a full profile of your computer. Scroll down to find the Applications section.

Click the thumbnail images here for larger versions.

Method 3: Command Line

This isn’t entirely hard, but it does require some finicky typing and a moment’s thought. Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal. A Terminal window opens showing a prompt that may say something like ‘Macintosh HD:~ yourname$ ‘. Mine says ‘pluto:~ miraz$ ‘ because my computer is named Pluto and my username on that machine is miraz.

Now you need to type a command that lists the files in the Applications folder and then saves it into a text file, perhaps in your Documents folder. Type the following exactly (including spaces), but replace ‘miraz‘ with your username:

ls /Applications > /Users/miraz/Documents/apps.txt

Then press the Return key.

List files with the command line interface.

List files with the command line interface.

It will seem as though nothing has happened, but look in your Documents folder where you should see a file called apps.txt. Open that file into your text editor and you will see a list of your Applications.


List the contents of any folder by changing the command above. Remember to replace ‘miraz’ with your username. This one lists the Applications > Utilities:

ls /Applications/Utilities > /Users/miraz/Documents/utilities.txt

This one lists the Documents folder:

ls /Users/miraz/Documents > /Users/miraz/Documents/docs.txt

Some explanation

ls – (ell ess) is a command to list things. It’s followed by a Space

/Users/miraz/Documents — refers to the user miraz’s Documents folder

> — is a command to save the information in a file. It has a Space in front and afterwards.

docs.txt – is the name for the file the command saves.

Try all these great Terminal Tips

Related posts

[wpzon keywords="pressure cooker" sindex="PCHardware" snode="1232597011" sort="salesrank" listing="8"]