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When I right-click on a file on my Mac OS desktop and then in the contextual menu, I move to the "Open with...", the list of potential applications to "open with" has applications listed multiple times, sometimes three or four times, right next to each other!

  1. Why does this happen?
  2. How do I fix it?
  3. how do I stop it from re-occurring?

See this snapshot of the contextual menu showing the doubling up:

screen shot of a menu showing doubled up apps

Now I have Mountain Lion on a 13" MacBook Pro, but this problem existed before I upgraded to Mountain Lion.

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I have the same problem on both my ML machines. –  Jannemans Oct 16 '12 at 12:12
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2 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

This happens because the LaunchServices database gets corrupted.

To fix on Mountain Lion:

  1. Open Terminal.app in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder.
  2. run /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user
  3. Restart

This command has changed over the years, but I just recently ran the above to fix the same issue on Mountain Lion. This hint on Mac OS X Hints covers the command for other Mac OS versions over the years.

If you don't like using the command line, the free tool Onyx also has an option under Maintenance -> Rebuild -> launchservices will work too.

As for how to stop it, I really haven't ever seen a way. I am not sure what actually causes it to corrupt other than I know it is very actively used.

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this is great info, thanks much. I am downloading Onyx, since diving into the command line gets tedious sometimes so it's interesting to think of a handy tool for this. kind of wonder why they don't put it on the mac app store -- maybe apple doesn't allow apps that fiddle with system functions on there. Anyway, appreciate this much. –  estephan500 Oct 18 '12 at 2:03
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Instead of restarting you can also just relaunch Finder by holding Alt and Right-Clicking on Finder in the dock, then select Relaunch. –  Wes Baker Jan 9 '13 at 16:12
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Instead of restarting you can also just relaunch Finder from the Terminal by typing killall Finder –  nthonygreen Mar 6 '13 at 13:56
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I would use Spotlight or Finder to search for, let's say, "Skitch" and try and see if possibly there are multiple versions that may have been accidentally copied or duplicated to somewhere else on your Mac. If not that, then maybe they're each different versions, and the old versions haven't been deleted. But I highly doubt it's the latter, most likely the former.

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It's not the former, I can confirm that when I had the issue. –  Stu Wilson Oct 16 '12 at 11:31
    
Also usually when you have multiple versions of an app installed, it will have a version number as well. –  jmlumpkin Oct 16 '12 at 11:59
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