How to Solve the Duplicate App Bug when Upgrading to OS X Lion

An hour ago, I made the decision to upgrade to OS X Lion from Snow Leopard in order to understand the operating system I’d undoubtedly blog — and be asked — about in the coming weeks. Once everything was said and done, I immediately launched Launchpad, the iOS-like application launcher made for Lion. Unfortunately, it appears the efforts I put into organizing the applications folder in Snow Leopard resulted in duplicate installations of any core apps that were moved. In most cases, the moved files were incompatible with the new OS.

Warning: The suggestions listed below are to be performed at your own risk. It’s always recommended that you back up prior to deleting any core applications or files from any operating system.

At this point, the only option to sort things out is to go through the sort folders in the Applications directory and delete the previous by putting them in the trash and emptying it. The best way to do this is by launching a Finder window and selecting Applications in the sidebar. Once this is done, open each directory individually and delete the copy that was moved after confirming a new app was installed in the main Applications directory. At this point, it’s very important to make sure you know the app you’re attempting to launch is an old package and not the one installed with Lion.

How to Solve the Duplicate App Bug when Upgrading to OS X LionOne way to test this is by attempting to open the app. If the app says it can’t open because it is not valid or made for this version of OS X, then you’ve likely got the right one. Check the new one to be safe, and then right-click on the old install and select (move to trash). You will probably be asked for your user name and password for each file moved to the trash. Using a program such as App Zapper for this can result in the new, legit app being deleted. After all, you want your settings to carry over, right?

Once you’ve removed all the obsolete apps from your Applications directory and sub-directories, you should test each live install once again to make sure you’re not deleting the wrong copy. Moving the old version to the trash won’t delete it, but it will keep it from launching and creating a false positive.

Emptying the trash should work with most apps, but a few (iChat in my instance) may kick back and prove stubborn to remove. You can force a deletion from the trash bin by following these steps:

  • Press and hold a left-click on the Trash bin in your dock.
  • Press and hold the Option key.
  • Select Empty Trash and release the key.

If you’re inclined to use the Terminal to force deletion of stubborn files, you can:

  • Open the Terminal from the Applications > Utilities directory.
  • Type the following:
    • sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash
  • Hit Enter.

Once this is done, you should be able to access Lion apps without having to guess which copy is the correct one in Launchpad or your Application launcher of choice.

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