Life, Technology, and Meteorology

When the App Store thinks an app is installed when it really isn’t

I was trying to figure out a problem where the Mac App Store incorrectly thought an application was installed on my Mac. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why it thought that app was installed when it wasn’t. I tried deleting caches, restarting the Mac, Spotlighting for all apps with that name, all to no avail.

It ended up the problem was from the LaunchServices database. The App Store checks LaunchServices to see which apps are installed. Apparently LaunchServices still had a record of an application bundle even though it had been deleted. Here’s how to use the Terminal to check and see which apps are in the LaunchServices database:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/\
Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/\
A/Support/lsregister -dump

If you search through that verbose output and find an app that isn’t really there, you should rebuild the LaunchServices database. You can do that with the following command:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework\
/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions\
/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Hope this saves someone an hour or two of problem-solving…

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Thank you so much for writing this post; saved me from quite a headache just now!

    I just performed a fresh install of OS X to a new hard disk and the Mac App Store application claimed I had already installed Xcode. It turns out the Applications directory on my old drive was getting indexed (or something to that effect). The command you posted solved my problem until I once again viewed my old hard drive’s Applications folder using Finder.

    That said, I believe I will need to disconnect the old hard drive for the App Store to continue to behave sanely. Blacklisting the old drive in Spotlight’s preferences did not work.

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