I have an SSD with two (bootable OS X) partitions. I don't want to have duplicate installations of most of my applications. So I made some OS X proprietary aliases in one of the two /Applications folders to the .apps in the /Applications folder of the other partition. I disabled Spotlight indexing on "the other partition".

This works when I double-click the aliases in a Finder window. But if I try to launch them from the Spotlight search menu I get the following error message:Item "iTerm" is used by Mac OS X and can't be opened.

When I use symlinks instead (for example ln -s /Volumes/SL/Applications/iTerm.app) it doesn't even show up in Spotlight search results, but launching from Finder works here too.

Are there any solutions aside from using an application launcher like QuickSilver?

  • Spotlight should index aliases but not symlinks. What you've shown is consistent with that, so the error message when trying to launch an app is puzzling. If you have Spotlight turned off for the other partition, it could be that it's seeing that the alias leads to a partition it's supposed to ignore, and then ignoring it. Try letting it index everything and see if that works.
    – Vickash
    Jul 7, 2012 at 23:21
  • @Vickash I tried your idea but it didn't change anything. Also, the reason I disabled Spotlight from indexing the other partition is so that I don't get double results for "Safari", "Mail" and all the other default apps that I'd rather not attempt to delete. I guess Spotlight search just doesn't work (completely) with Finder aliases, an oversight by Apple. I will probably start using an app launcher. Thanks.
    – hawk
    Jul 8, 2012 at 0:32
  • Sorry to hear that. I understand the duplicate problem. Get that all the time with my external backup drive if I leave Spotlight on for it. If you're going the app launcher route, test the free version of Alfred first. It depends on the Spotlight index entirely. If the aliased apps launch from Alfred, you at least know Spotlight is indexing them properly, so you can start to narrow down the source of the problem.
    – Vickash
    Jul 8, 2012 at 2:43


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