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Frequently, when I try to open the (10.9) Finder's "Open With..." menu, I experience a delay that appears to be due to connected FireWire drives. This delay is very long when the drives need to spin up, but is also perceptible when the drives have not spun down. For me, this delay makes no sense: I have no applications that I use stored on my external drives, and I have disabled Spotlight searches of these drives (using Spotlight's "Privacy" setting).

Is there some way to prevent the "Open With..." menu examining external drives?


Note that this is not a question about speeding up the OW menu in general (e.g., by pruning apps and file type associations), nor about keeping duplicate apps on external drives from appearing in the OW menu (I have none as my Spotlight settings noted above exclude them).

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  • Another alternative might be to adjust the sleep settings on your external drive perhaps.
    – l'L'l
    Dec 16 '13 at 17:42
  • @l'L'l: As in the question: there's a noticeable delay even when the drives have not spun down. (Note also that, like most external drives, mine offer no way to prevent sleep, and ignore any system sleep settings. FWIW, I've got a periodic task that forces them to stay awake, so that's not the question here.)
    – orome
    Dec 16 '13 at 18:00
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The apps that are displayed in "Open With..." are taken from the Launch Services database which keeps track of what apps can open which file types. In your case it would seem that Launch Services thinks you may have an appropriate app on your Firewire disks (even though you there aren't any - it is wanting to look).

Older versions of macOS seem to be particularly susceptible to this database becoming somewhat tangle/messy.

The solution is to rebuild the Launch Services database. You can do that at the terminal with this command:

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

It is running the lsregister app to reset the database. It may take sometime to complete. And you should check that the location for lsregister is correct for your version of macOS.

If using the Terminal is a challenge you can use the highly regarded Onyx to rebuild the database. It is on the Maintenance pane. Make sure you disable all the other choices before running the rebuild task. Note there is a different version of Onyx for each macOS version.

This has been covered before. For example: Finder "Open With" very slow.

For a more in depth discussion of Launch Services, read these: Recent Items, Launch Services, and SharedFileLists and Launch Services database problems

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  • The only problem with rebuilding the LaunchServices database it also seems to reset "are you sure you want to open" prompts, even when I exclude the system domain, and even if I also set LSQuarantine -bool false. If not for that, I'd probably stick this in a weekly launchdaemon... Mar 27 '21 at 21:53
  • Interestingly, your eclecticlight link says "Restarting in Safe mode (with the Shift key held) flushes quite a few caches, but does not touch the Launch Services database." Well, it does for me (seems to have exactly the same effect as the Terminal command), at least on 10.9. Mar 27 '21 at 21:55
  • @Wowfunhappy I would not even dream about doing rebuilding LaunchServices regularly and it is some years (and some macOS) versions since I have needed to. But back in the bad old days (like macOS 10.9) I did rebuild it a few times. If you can upgrade your macOS it would be a good idea to do so, you will get rid of this and see other issues.
    – Gilby
    Mar 27 '21 at 22:36
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    Not interested in upgrading, but also not convinced the problem—whatever it is—has been fixed in newer versions, unless it was very recently. It was actually more of an issue for me back when I used Mojave, where the open with menu would get terribly screwed up all the time. Now I only notice duplicate apps there maybe once every few months, almost always when I’ve been editing an Applescript .app bundle which seems to be the trigger. Mar 28 '21 at 0:11
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    Ihave had it worse on big Sur rather than mojave
    – mmmmmm
    Mar 30 '21 at 19:00

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