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Libraries in OSX - How to use or not use??

by aphovel63 / November 2, 2009 12:11 AM PST

Hello all,

I am a novice in system issues, with a limited technical vocabulary, so please have mercy?? Wink Sorry if this message is lengthy.

Am trying to understand why, lately, I have to use install DVD 1 for minor boot disk repairs on my Intel iMac (late 2006-17" - OSX 10.4.11) almost every week. And why, when I right~click on a file to open it, all applications are proposed twice. Makes the list sort of long!
Not knowing what to look for I first thought I might have missed a firmware update. My computer says I'm up to date with EFI 1.2. I make all updates proposed by system as soon as they appear, and regularly use Onyx for privileges repairs, particularly before and after DLs, use Automation weekly, etc. (But I still haven't found out what precise iMac the EFI 1.3 is intended for).

After scavenging heaps of forum threads and seen remarks saying that Library is to be used with great caution, I wonder if that's the problem. But can find absolutely no/nada detailed explanation concerning OSX Libraries in my litterature (the usual "missing manuals) nor on-line (Apple-site, forums, CNET).?

I did realize that the MacIntosh HD Library was something to avoid tampering with.

But so far, I thought the User ("little house") Library was my own set of private bookshelves. I.e.

- User>>Library>>Receipts file: contains all .dmg, .pkg and zip files for all software, Apple and not Apple, in successive versions, that are installed on computer. Plus a couple of .dmg's for Tiger that I haven't installed but kept in case they should become difficult to find.
This Receipts file now weighs 8.4 Go.

- In Library>>Application Support file I have: (a) created manually a file for each installed app when such a file was not created automatically by install; (b) stored in each app file respective documents concerning purchase, registration keys, tutorials, updates; all of it sorted in extra subfiles per version (e.g. v4-2, v4-3, v5-01 etc).
I have of course kept everything that was created initially by installation procedures in this Application Support file. I now globally weighs 8.47 Go.

- One more info: the HD Library>> Receipts file- which I have not touched at all ? contains a mass of .pkg files, Apple and not Apple software, and weighs 524 Mo.

Have I created a mess, or is this more or less OK?
Very grateful for all helpful info.


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by Kevin M. Dean / November 2, 2009 4:25 AM PST

You should not be manually placing anything in the Receipts or Application Support folder or 99% of the time the Library folder and any subfolders itself. The system and apps will take care of what belongs there. Your documents should go into the Documents folder or any other new folder you create for storage in your home folder. Also don't place any of your documents in the Applications folders.

As to why the apps are appearing twice. If you have your Applications folder backed up to another drive/location, this can cause the apps to appear twice. Using Onyx under Maintenance-->Rebuild, run the LaunchServices option. This should reset to only seeing one set of apps. Note that I've found that if you open the backed up copy of the Applications folder again, it will likely cause the double app list again.

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by aphovel63 / November 3, 2009 3:10 AM PST
In reply to: stuff

Hello Kevin,
Thank you very much for your clear and fast reply!

If I understand you correctly, the double apps display may be due to my using Super Duper to make a bootable external drive. I have cloned my HD this way several times though, and it is the first time that the double display occurs. But that is much less disturbing than the rest.

I have had this computer for 2 and a half years now, and really do not know how, in which order, or according to which procedure I can put my library back to normal without causing kernel panics or other havoc.

1) User>Library>Receipts folder:
As far as I can remember, the folder was empty when I first opened it. Believe the first thing I put into it was the .pkg corresponding to Adobe Suite CS (which is why I haven't upgraded to Leopard, because Tiger is the last OS on which I can use Adobe CS) and which for some reason was located in the Applications folder.
Very difficult for me to know for certain what .dmg's or packages belong to system, or extra software that needs to remain in the Receipts folder.
Since I have noted all software downloads/updates/upgrades made, I can start from the beginning and take them away. But should this be done gradually, with Onyx-Privileges Repairs in between, or should I do it in one go? What happens if I take away .dmg's or packages that should have remained there?
Would it be at all possible that you - or somebody else - has a screencast that could show me the NORMAL contents of an OS X 10.4.11 User>Library>Receipts folder?

2) User>Library>Application Support folder:
Same problem here: I can probably identify most of the folders and files that I have created myself, and many of those that were installed automatically, because of personal habits in naming files, but I cannot be quite certain of taking away the right elements.

In other words, thanks to you I know now what I should never have done; but am at a loss as to how to put things right without causing damage. It really is a pity that this issue is not explained in more detail in the usual litterature. I did read quite a lot before installing, because I knew nothing about modern Macs. (Only had a Quadra before, for a couple of months and without internet connection). Or else I have really missed a chapter somewhere.

Do you think you can find time to help me out of this hassle?

At any rate, thanks a lot for your help so far!

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Some fixes
by Kevin M. Dean / November 3, 2009 4:43 AM PST
In reply to: Great...

First, the extra files you've placed in the folders will not hurt anything, it's just not the correct locations to store those files and if they're any an application generated folder there's no guarantee that the App that uses that folder won't cause the loss of those files at some point.

The double apps display can be resolved using Onyx like I mentioned. The likely reason you're seeing it is because you may have opened the Applications folder on your backup drive at some point and it was added to your Open with menus. So, after running Onyx, try to avoid going into the backup Applications folder.

1. To be safe, leave all .pkg and .bom files in the Receipts folder. Older versions of receipts can be removed if you want. If a pkg looks like it's a full application installer and is very large you can probably remove that as well. dmg files do not belong in here so all of those can be removed along with other formats like .sit, .sitx, .zip.

I don't have 10.4.11, so I can't list what should be there.

2. Application Support - You'll just need to grab the files you know you created for storing your passwords as you said and anything else that you may have placed there. It should be pretty obvious which are your files and which are not. The ones that are not will be program-related files and preference-like files and other resources that the Apps use and you likely wouldn't recognize the contents or structure for.

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Thanks indeed!
by aphovel63 / November 4, 2009 3:04 AM PST
In reply to: Some fixes

That looks like very sound advice, and I will follow it to the best of my ability.
Am very grateful for your time and patience, and all details given.
Best regards

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Report and 2 questions please
by aphovel63 / November 6, 2009 5:32 AM PST
In reply to: Some fixes

Hello Kevin,

Have now dealt with User>Library>Receipts folder: in several stages with privileges repairs and reboots in between and

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by Kevin M. Dean / November 7, 2009 9:34 AM PST

1. The Receipts folder is the correct location for those Adobe folders with logs in them. That's where Adobe placed them on my system as well.

2. You're fine with the iWork one being left where it is. Yes, you can usually tell by size. Most receipts are relatively small packages. Some can be a bit larger... and some are really large like Microsoft Office Updates. Full installers are any that you might have placed manually in the receipts folder and install the full app when run. Lot's of times those would have their own custom icon that's different from the usual package icon. So, at this point if you don't remember putting it there, then it's best to leave it there.

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Happy me!
by aphovel63 / November 8, 2009 9:29 AM PST
In reply to: answers

Well, that's a relief!
One problem solved.
I'll tackle the second part in a few days.
Best regards

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