Resetting Launch Services

In associating documents with applications, Finder® employs Launch Services. Launch Services uses several files to associate documents with applications and vice versa. If these files become corrupted, the following problems can occur:

  • The wrong application is opened when double-clicking a file.
  • Multiple copies of a single application appear in the Open With menu for a given document.
  • Incorrect icons appear on files, folders, or other objects.
  • Finder error code -10660. Note that this error code can also occur if you are attempting to open a document whose associated application is in the Trash.

This FAQ, derived from our Troubleshooting Mac® OS X series of books, provides the steps required to reset Launch Services. Be sure to read these instructions in their entirety, including the Notes, before proceeding.

There are two approaches to resetting Launch Services:

  1. Use a third-party utility, such as Cocktail or Yasu, to rebuild or reset, respectively, the Launch Services database. Be sure to employ a version of the utility that is compatible with the version of Mac OS X you are using.
  2. Reset Launch Services manually: follow the steps in the order specified for the version of Mac OS X you are using:

Reset Launch Services under Snow Leopard

1. Log in to the affected account.
2. Open Terminal, located in the Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder.
3. At the prompt, type the following command exactly as written:
find /System/Library/Frameworks -type f -name “lsregister” -exec {} -kill -seed -r \;
4. Press Return. The Launch Services database is rebuilt; it is finished when the Terminal prompt returns.
5. End the Terminal session by doing one of the following:
  • Press the Control-D keyboard shortcut.
  • Type exit and press Return.
6. Quit (Command-Q) Terminal.
7. Check to determine if the problem is resolved.

Reset Launch Services under Leopard

1. Quit all running applications.
2.

Trash the following two files in the Macintosh HD > Library > Caches folder:

  • com.apple.LaunchServices-0230.csstore
  • com.apple.LaunchServices-023nnn.csstore

where nnn is the User ID number of the affected account.

Type your Admin password if prompted to authenticate the deletion of these files. See Notes [1] and [2].

Note: If you upgraded from Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, this folder may also contain files with file names:

  • com.apple.LaunchServices-0140.csstore
  • com.apple.LaunchServices-014nnn.csstore

where nnn represents the User ID numbers of accounts on the Mac. These files can also be deleted as they are leftovers from Tiger.

3. Restart your Mac.
4. Log in to the affected account.
5.

If the problem is resolved, skip to step 6. Otherwise:

  1. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.plist file in the Home > Library > Preferences folder. See Note [3].
  2. Repeat steps 1-4.
6. Empty the Trash.

Reset Launch Services under Tiger

1. Quit all running applications.
2.

Trash the following two files in the Macintosh HD > Library > Caches folder:

  • com.apple.LaunchServices-0140.csstore
  • com.apple.LaunchServices-014nnn.csstore

where nnn is the uid (User ID) number, as listed in the NetInfo database, of the affected account. Type your Admin password if prompted to authenticate the deletion of these files. See Notes [1] and [2].

3. Restart your Mac.
4. Log in to the affected account.
5. Empty the Trash.
6.

Verify that the problem is solved. If not:

  1. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.plist file in the Home > Library > Preferences folder of the affected account. See Note [3].
  2. Repeat steps 1-5.

Reset Launch Services under Panther

  1. Quit all running applications.
  2. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.6B.csstore file in the Macintosh HD > Library > Caches folder. Type your Admin password if prompted to authenticate the deletion of this file. See Note [1].
  3. Restart your Mac.
  4. Log in to the affected account.
  5. Empty the Trash.
  6. Verify that the problem is solved. If not:
    1. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.plist file in the Home > Library > Preferences folder of the affected account. See Note [3].
    2. Repeat steps 1-5.

Reset Launch Services under Jaguar

  1. Quit all running applications.
  2. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.plist file in the Home > Library > Preferences folder of the affected account. See Note [3].
  3. Trash the com.apple.LaunchServices.UserCache.csstore file in the Home > Library > Caches folder of the affected account.
  4. Restart your Mac.
  5. Log in to the affected account.
  6. Empty the Trash.

Related Links

Notes

[1] This step will result in you being prompted to approve the launch of the application associated with a given document the first time you double-click that document. These alerts are a result of the security feature in Mac OS X. The list of applications which you have previously approved are saved in the caches deleted in this step.

[2] The first user account defined on your Mac is generally User ID number 501, the second User ID number 502, and so forth. For example, the second file ID for the first account would be:

Under Leopard: com.apple.LaunchServices-023501.csstore
Under Tiger: com.apple.LaunchServices-014501.csstore

Use the instructions in the following table to find the User ID number (Leopard) or uid number (Tiger) for any account:

Mac OS X 10.5 or later:
1. Open System Preferences > Accounts.
2. If the lock icon in the lower-left corner of Accounts is locked, click it and type your Admin account name and password when prompted to authenticate.
3. Control-click the desired account and chose Advanced Options… in the resulting shortcut menu.
4. A sheet appears listing advanced options for the account selected in step 3. Write down the account's User ID number shown in the User ID field.
5. Click Cancel.
6. Quit (Command-Q) System Preferences.
Mac OS X 10.4:
1. Open NetInfo Manager, which is in the Macintosh HD > Applications > Utilities folder.
2. Select users in the middle column of the NetInfo Manager window.
3. Select the desired user account in the right column of NetInfo Manager.
4. The data for the selected user, including uid, is displayed in the lower pane of the NetInfo Manager window.

[3] This step will reset to default values all associations you have created between specific file types and applications. For example, if you set PDFs to open in Adobe® Acrobat® instead of Preview, they would now open in Preview again until the association of PDFs with Acrobat is reset.

Did you find this FAQ helpful? You will find a wealth of additional advice for preventing or resolving Mac OS X problems in Dr. Smoke's book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X.
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