Mini-Tutorial: Deleting old copies of applications (documents opening with the wrong version, program)

Mini-Tutorial: Deleting old copies of applications (documents opening with the wrong version, program)


Many users run into a problem where documents are opened using the wrong application, or the wrong version of an application.

For instance, one user recently described an issue to our staff in which an expired "Test Drive" version of Microsoft Word 2004 was being launched whenever the user tried to open a Word (.doc) attachment from The user had since purchased a full copy of Office 2004 and installed it, but continued to use the old, expired copy.

In most cases, this problem can be resolved simply by deleting the undesired version of an application. Mac OS X should automatically recognize that the discarded application no longer be used to open documents and switch to the proper application by default.

Duplicate applications can also be left over from Archive and Install, and can actually cause problems in current versions of applications. For instance, we previously reported on a problem where messages disappear from their appropriate mailbox under 2.0.3 because of an old copy of the application sitting elsewhere on an active volume.

To delete old copies of applications left over from an "Archive and Install":

  • Open the "Previous System (#)" folder (at the root level of your hard drive)
  • Delete the "Applications" folder therein
  • Re-apply the most recent Mac OS X combo updater available from Apple's Download page

If you still have problems with Mac OS X attempting to use old or non-existent versions of applications to open documents, you may want to try using the shareware utility RCDefault to specify which application should open files with a certain file extension.

As a last resort, simply drag the desired file on to the appropriate application icon.

As previously noted on MacFixIt, deleting old copies of applications can also eliminate a problem where there is an inordinate number of entries in the "Open With" contextual menu item (accessed by control-clicking a document).

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