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I installed a program yesterday in a mess of terrible installation instructions and I have no idea where it lives. I have files that default to opening that program, but that doesn't tell me where it is. Spotlight Search returns nothing. It doesn't appear to live in the Applications folder. macOS 13.5.2 (22G91) obviously knows where it is, but I can't figure out how to get it to tell me.

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  • Can you add the name of the program and a link to the installation instructions?
    – nohillside
    Nov 13, 2023 at 7:00

3 Answers 3

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Open Terminal and enter

find ~ -name "*xxx*" -print > /tmp/tmp
cat /tmp/tmp

where xxx is the name of the app (as appears in the menu bar when running).

If that doesn’t find it, change ~ to / and try again.

The redirection to a file is because SIP will flood the Terminal window with error messages, making it hard to find the answer.

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  • This produced a surprising number of results and vomited out a lot of find: /X/Y/Z/something: Permission denied lines to my screen, but the /tmp/tmp file contained the information I needed to track down the application. Nov 10, 2023 at 18:59
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    Instead of redirecting the matches, you could hide the errors by appending 2>/dev/null, which redirects the standard error stream (which the shell calls stream 2) to the bitbucket, leaving only the standard output with the matches.
    – gidds
    Nov 11, 2023 at 14:24
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Given you say files open with the program, open one of those files, which will open the program and add it to the Dock, so you can command-click the app in the Dock to reveal its location.

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Here's a slightly faster invocation of find than the other answers posted that will only process directories named *Foo*.app, since a macOS app bundle is always a directory, and always has an .app extension.

find ~ -type d -iname "*NameOfMysteryApp*.app" 2>/dev/null

If that doesn't return any results, you can expand the search scope to the entire disk by changing find ~ to find / (it will take longer to search)

Another possibly useful tool is mdfind which uses the Spotlight database to instantly return results.

For example, if you know the partial name of the app, try:

mdfind 'kMDItemKind == Application && kMDItemDisplayName == "*Word.app"'

Output:

/Applications/Microsoft Word.app

Or, if you know the exact or a partial BundleID, you can try e.g.

mdfind 'kMDItemCFBundleIdentifier == "com.microsoft*"'

Which will output something like:

/Applications/Microsoft Teams (work or school).app
/Applications/PowerShell.app
/Applications/Microsoft Word.app
/Applications/Visual Studio Code.app

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