various quirks and derailments of LaunchServices have already been plentifully discussed here and elsewhere… I have recently excluded my external backup drive from Spotlight search and all seems to be well in „Open with…“ (so far).

One question I still have though to which I couldn’t find an answer yet:

I can rebuild LaunchServices (via Terminal scripts) as often as I like, restart Finder, reboot the computer, etc. - the date and the innards of com.apple.launchservices.secure.plist remain unchanged. The folder in which it lives (~ /Library/Preferences/com.apple.LaunchServices/) updates its date/time stamp every time I rebuild LaunchServices but not the .plist file itself.

What gives?

Here's today's screenshot:

(iMac late 2013, 16 GB RAM, El Capitan 10.11.6)

1 Answer 1


That file contains the bindings for some extensions to particular applications. But it is not the LaunchServices Database itself.

Its modification date will change if you change the default app for a given file type.

  • Oh, I see... Thank you so much for the clarification!
    – user303582
    May 6, 2019 at 22:03
  • PS: While we’re at it… When I was trying to find the cause of my LaunchServices misbehaving over and over again, I took a closer look at com.apple.launchservices.secure.plist in TextEdit and what I saw was quite surprising - there were only TWO apps mentioned there: Mozilla and Houdahspot… Here are the relevant parts of this .plist file: <key>LSHandlerContentType</key> <string>com.houdah.houdahspot.license</string> <key>LSHandlerPreferredVersions</key>... ... <string>org.mozilla.firefox</string> <key>LSHandlerURLScheme</key> No wonder my LaunchServices misbehaved, no?
    – user303582
    May 6, 2019 at 22:46
  • @VMENot really. As said: this file is not the LSDB. Anyway, please mark the answer as correct, if you think so (because people here are really precise about that sort of thing). If you still have problems with LS, then ask another question, or search for similar ones. Best.
    – benwiggy
    May 7, 2019 at 11:20
  • Marked the answer as correct, of course - thank you so much! Still not quite clear: how come my com.apple.launchservices.secure.plist had entries of only two apps in it and nothing else? Many thanks in advance!
    – user303582
    May 7, 2019 at 14:32
  • The file contains User Changes to the default handlers. Not all the file handlers. Try changing a file type's default application, and see what happens to the plist.
    – benwiggy
    May 7, 2019 at 16:20

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