Give Launchpad a complete clean out

Lex Friedman
9 January, 2012
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Launchpad takes the iOS home screen springboard and recreates it on your Mac. Some users love this new Lion feature; others aren’t sold. If you’re among the latter, you can ignore Launchpad pretty easily: Remove its icon from your Dock, turn off the Launchpad gesture and you can live fairly Launchpad-free from then on. But what if you want to get a fresh-start with Launchpad, configuring it to give you quick access only to those apps you choose?

You could manually remove entries from Launchpad while it’s onscreen by holding down the Option key and clicking on the jiggling apps. But that won’t work on stock Apple apps, which seem permanently affixed to Launchpad’s surface. And it’s a laborious process if you have a lot of apps.

But there is a way to empty Launchpad completely – removing even Apple’s own apps. The crux of this trick is wiping out the contents of the database Lion uses to know what goes where in Launchpad. To do so, launch Terminal (which, as always, is in /Applications/Utilities) and paste in this sequence of commands at the command line:

sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db "DELETE from apps; DELETE from groups WHERE title<>''; DELETE from items WHERE rowid>2;"; Killall Dock

Now, open Launchpad again. It’ll be as blank as the faces on those guys in Apple’s 1984 commercial. Of course, if you purchase an app from the Mac App Store, its icon will show up in your newly naked Launchpad.

Getting the apps you want back into Launchpad is simple: You can just drag the apps you’d like to add directly onto Launchpad’s Dock icon. (Merely dragging icons onto the Launchpad icon in the Finder won’t work; you must drag onto the Dock icon.)

Miss the old, overstuffed Launchpad? You can get it back by forcing Lion to rebuild your Launchpad database with this Terminal command:

rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db; killall Dock

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