How to Move Apps Out of the Applications Folder in Mac OS X

Dec 29, 2011 - 13 Comments

Move Applications out of the Applications folder in OS X Lion

Have you noticed when you try and move an application out of the /Applications folder in modern versions of Mac OS X, you will end up creating an alias of the app instead?

What if you want to move an application out of the Applications folder of MacOS, and put the app somewhere else?

This behavior is a security feature that was introduced to the Mac all the way back in Mac OS X in Lion but persists through today, which is intended to help prevent accidentally deleting or moving apps, and in some ways it’s convenient way to quickly make an app alias. But what if you actually want to move an application out of the /Applications/ directory, to another location?

Moving an Application out of the Applications Folder on Mac OS

If you want to move an app out of the Applications folder, how you do so is easy: just hold down the Command key while dragging the app out of the folder.

This will allow it to pop out of the containing folder and go to the new destination.

You may need to authenticate with a system admin password and login to be able to make the change, depending on what version of MacOS and what your security settings are on the individual Mac.

The only real exception to this trick is if the applications destination is the Trash, because you will continue to need to enter the administrator password if you attempt to uninstall an app by dragging it into the Trash can the old fashioned way. That’s also a security feature of Mac OS X, intended to prevent accidental removal of apps.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Janice says:

    All I did was open the Applications Folder, view it as a list, then click on the item I wanted to remove. Go to File, Move to Trash, and it’s gone.

  2. Chris says:

    Command + shift worked for me (asked for password) moved to desktop

  3. Vernony says:

    I want to drag Mavericks, pre installation, out of Applications and onto the desk top. An expert has said in here that all you have to do is to holder Command down and click on the Icon and drag it out of Applications. But, what have I missed. Applications takes up the whole screen and you can drag the Icon around as much as you want within the page, but how do I get it out and onto the desktop ?

  4. Dan Sheehy says:

    The fix of holding down the command key doesn’t work for me. In my case, I accidentally put a folder full of documents into the Applications. Now I can’t move the folder out of there, it only creates an alias! Any help on this would be appreciated.

  5. […] created – in OS X 10.7 and 10.8 this automatically creates aliases rather than moving the app out of the Application folder, earlier versions of OS X will want to manually create aliases with […]

  6. “This is a security feature that is new to Lion…”

    New to Lion yes but no security feature. This change was made to make sure that automatic updates would work after you move apps out of this folder.

  7. Paddywack says:

    One would think that Option drag would be more conforming to the user interface guidelines with regard to copying files.

  8. says:

    I’m not liking this release of OS X much either. Like Prescott above, as an Apple lifer, I too am disturbed by the iOS-iffication of the Mac OS. The Mac OS is what it is. It is NOT a Device, which Lion seems hell bent on turning the Mac into. From Hidden Libraries, to the complete lack of colour to lost functionality. I’m mulling booting back into Snow Leopard permanently, especially if Mac OS 10.8 takes this ‘trend’ further. Looks like i’ll be keeping this 10.6 bootable iMac around a lot longer..

    • Tao of Dave says:

      Hate to say it but I think OS X 10.8 is going to be even closer to iOS, eventually OS X 11 will probably just become iOS X.

  9. I haven’t even noticed this problem, but it doesn’t surprise me. However many months it’s been, I’m still sore on Lion. It sucks. It’s controlling and tyrannical. It removes features and options and makes it harder to do things we’ve been doing to ten years. And there’s still no excuse for the scroll bars!

  10. Brian says:

    Very Windows-like, not sure if I like this change

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