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Archived - Applications don't work after reinstalling Mac OS X

You may be unable to open an application or its files after reinstalling Mac OS X (including an Archive and Install) and then not updating to the version of Mac OS X you'd been using or later. Tip: You won't have this issue if you have a single hard disk volume and you used the Erase & Install option when you performed the reinstallation.

These things can happen:

  • A document or file doesn't open with the application you'd expect it to, or with the version of the application you'd expect, leading to other issues. For example, Disk Copy may unexpectedly quit when you open a disk image (.dmg or .img) file.
  • An application won't open at all. Double-clicking an application doesn't work. It may briefly appear then disappear, or unexpectedly quit or not respond ("crash or hang"). For example, Safari may not work after an Archive and Install.

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Solutions

First, you should update Mac OS X to the same or later version that was installed prior to the reinstallation. See "Mac OS X 10.2: Chart of Available Mac OS Software Updates" or "Mac OS X 10.3: Chart of available Mac OS software updates".

Tip: If you download a manual Mac OS X Update installer but are unable to install it (because Installer application doesn't work), try dragging the installation package file (.pkg) on top of the Installer application. It is located in the Utilities folder, which is in the Applications folder (/Applications/Utilities/). For other tips, see this document.

Second, if any updates for affected applications were installed previously, you may need to install those updates again. Usually, you can find updates for Apple applications, if needed, using Software Update preferences (for Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 or later, choose Software Update... from the Apple menu). Third-party application updates are often available from the vendor's website.

Tip: If you're not ready to update yet, and the expected version of an application doesn't open when you double-click a file, you can drag your document on top of the correct application icon located in /Applications or /Applications/Utilities (on your startup volume). Or, select the file in the Finder and choose Open With from the File menu.

If the issue persists, you may need to reinstall the application.

Additional information

Mac OS X automatically searches for the latest version of the default application for a given document type. When a later version is found, it may be used instead of an earlier version, contributing to this issue.

Example 1: You downgrade by performing an Archive and Install installation, but do not update to a later version of Mac OS X. The Previous Systems folder contains later versions of applications that may contribute to this issue.

Example 2: Software developers or system administrators may have installed multiple versions of Mac OS X in order to perform tests. This issue can occur if you install a later version of Mac OS X on one volume, then start up from an earlier version that is on a different volume.

Many Apple applications are not entirely self-contained, but rely upon "frameworks". When these frameworks are shared by many applications, they are not contained inside the application. For example, many Apple applications that draw web pages or other HTML content use Apple's "WebKit" framework. That framework is used by the Safari, Mail, Help Viewer, Software Update and Installer applications. WebKit is stored in /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/ .

Some application versions work only with specific framework versions. If you have installed a newer version of an Apple application, it may have installed a newer version of the framework as well. Sometimes installing a Mac OS X software update will update an application to a newer version. If you later reinstall or Archive and Install that version of Mac OS X, the newer application's are retained but the older frameworks are reinstalled. The easiest way to resolve the issue is to reapply the application or OS updates you previously had. If this is not an option, you should delete the application that is not working and reinstall the application or Mac OS X update you previously had.

Last Modified: Nov 7, 2011
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  • Last Modified: Nov 7, 2011
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