Planning on doing a Clean Catalina Install - Save License’s

I am planning on doing a clean Install for Catalina because I have some weird behavior in my current configuration. Mail and Safari will pop up and then go back into the menu bar.

Is there a utility that will round up the licenses of the installed software.

How do I print out a list of the installed software.

Any other tips on get ready to do a clean Install.



I know of no app that does can pull registration codes from all apps on a Mac.

There are many apps that manage, save and store license info, some where you drop applications onto the app icon to create entries for them, and they will fill in the product name, version and maker where possible, but you’d be required to enter license codes and registration info yourself.

License code info can be placed too many places : plist files, invisible .domain.plist and .random.plist files or files and folders containing files with random names. Also specific ‘License’-files exist. On top of that, some apps use unused/invisible parts of partitions to store registrations. And many apps, especially a lot of music-creation apps, are based on limited installs and in order to not use up an install the user is required to deactivate a registration before doing a new or clean install.

This is one reason the Mac App Store and SetApp have become so popular - the chore of maintaining this info disappears.

For years I’ve had files (first in Devonthink, then in Eaglefiler) in which I put all my purchase/registration info.

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I have a mailbox that I save all emails I receive with the app License’s

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One Password has a category for software licenses. I use that in addition to a Gmail label for any emails that I get related to such things. None of that is automatic. You have to maintain it yourself. That doesn’t really help you now, but could be something to think about going forward.

First get you an adult beverage of choice, open and begin enjoying

Open your applications folder and screen capture the applications listing

Write the app names in a text file from the screen shot or use a text capture app on the screen shot

Open each app and see if they have a register page and if any codes are listed.

If you bought all from the MAS, then once you install the OS log into the App Store and get tour apps

I know of no easy way to hunt for all registrations for all apps on a Mac or PC. You can get some using certain apps but not all…

Many applications store their registration information in their .plist in ~/Library/Preferences/

But for applications that are sandboxed, their .plist will be under ~/Library/Containers/

Some applications like to hide it in /Users/Shared/.

Then there are some that stick it somewhere else, presumably in some attempt to prevent piracy.

Other applications, such as Microsoft Office, make it basically impossible to extract the registration information from whatever is stored on the hard drive.

The only way to have all of this information is to store it yourself before you need it. I use 1Password as many others have recommended, but that is no help in hindsight.


Whenever I’ve done this I’ve just saved the list of software using ls , then I’ve just relied on spotlight to look for the licenses post reinstall. They’re all in email or somewhere else around - had to get a few off the MacHeist website once long ago - but I’ve never been unable to locate an old license.


I like the Adult Beverage idea.

But just to make the list.

I’ve found that while Windows has driven me to drink, it does not improve my systems management abilities. I expect the same would hold true for the Mac. :wink: