Tony’s Tech Tips – Curing Double-Vision with Terminal

by Tony Gamble

Tony's Tech Tips LogoToday I bring you a solution to a problem that sometimes affects users of Mac OS X: duplicate entries in contextual menus. Recently, I replaced the internal hard drive in my iMac and installed a fresh copy of Mountain Lion (Mac OS X version 10.8). As part of the initial setup process, OS X gives you the option to migrate your user data, either from another Mac/PC or from another disk. With my previous system installed on an external hard drive connected through Firewire, I selected my old account and when all was said and done, my desktop experience was exactly as I had left it. Well, almost.

It seems that one peculiar side effect of the Migration Assistant can sometimes leave you with multiple duplicate entries in your file handler contextual menu. That’s the pop-up menu that appears when you right-click on a file and select Open With, a very handy feature on all platforms since most files can be handled by a bevy of applications. For example, on a typical OS X install, JPEG files can be viewed by default in Preview with a double-click, or you can right-click and select from a number of image editing applications installed on your system. After booting into my restored desktop, however, I discovered that the list of apps available in my right-click menus were oddly repetitive: two items for Adobe Photoshop CS6, followed by two items for Adobe Illustrator CS6, followed by… well, you get the picture. While it breaks nothing, it’s definitely an irritant. How do I get rid of these duplicate entries? Screenshot: Right-Click Duplicate Entries

A quick Google search set my mind at ease with this very simple, quick fix. It will require you to use a utility called the Terminal, a line interface that allows you to control the underpinnings of UNIX, the heart and soul of Mac OS X. No need to go searching for a download in the App Store. Terminal is available on every version of OS X. You’ll find it in the Utilities folder, inside your Applications folder. Now put your mouse away; there’s no cushy point-and-click interface here. The Terminal uses command lines, harkening back to the days of DOS, but fret not. I will guide you through the two simple steps required to rid you of your right-click hiccups.

First, copy and paste the following line into the Terminal:

cd /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/

This command tells Terminal to focus its attention on the path you’ve given it. The CD stands for CHANGE DIRECTORY. Hit Enter/Return on your keyboard, then copy and paste this line as well:

./lsregister -kill -domain local -domain system -domain user

Hit Enter/Return again, then mouse down to your Finder icon on the Dock (that’s the “smiley face guy” on the far left). Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and right-click, then select Relaunch. Voila! You should now have rid yourself of those pesky duplicate entries in your contextual menus.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered in a future post, leave a comment below, or drop me a line at or on Twitter @trinzitter.

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