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If I click on a .txt file, what exactly happens in order for Mac OS X to open my txt file with the Default Program (TextEdit in my case). In other words where does Mac OS look/what exact steps are involved to determine what my default program is and to open that file ? Where can this look up /process potentially/most likely be broken and how can I troubleshoot if Mac won't open the default program. Not for all programs but for one specific program ?

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Rebuilding Launch Service Database did the trick:

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

More details here:

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Sorry. Basically TextEdit did not open files with double click anymore (But if launched via Spotlight yes). This seemed such a random error and I wanted to understand the underlying logic of the launch process better. Therefore this question. – user413734 Jul 7 '14 at 15:16

Here are the steps to configure application association in Mac OSX:

  • Find the file type(s) that you want to change the application to open with
  • Get Info about a file that is of that file type, say a .mov
  • Click the ‘Open With’ arrow to expand an application list
  • Choose the application you want all files of this type to open with
  • Click “Change All” and then “Continue” when the confirmation dialog appears

For a visual representation of the above steps, check out:

Change File Associations in Mac OS X

Information source:

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Thank you for the notification. I have edited my answer. – injector Jul 7 '14 at 16:13

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