Finding and reinstalling lost Apple-supplied applications in OS X

In OS X there are times when you may have deleted items from your Applications folder that were put there by the OS X installer.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
3 min read

In OS X there are times when you may have deleted items from your Applications folder that were put there by the OS X installer. Sometimes people have done this intentionally for items they do not use to clear up clutter and free hard drive space, but at other times people have inadvertently deleted them, including important items like the System Preferences.

If this happens, you may see the respective application in the Dock appear as a translucent question mark. There are several approches to restoring the lost programs and utilities, some of which may be more convenient based on the resourced available to you. Keep in mind that regardless of which method you use, be sure to run a full permissions fix after restoring lost applications that came with OS X.

  1. Using Time Machine

    If you have a full system backup using Time Machine, you can go to the Applications folder in the Finder, invoke Time Machine, and locate a backed up version of the desired application for restoration.

  2. Copy from another Mac

    If you have another Mac handy that is running the same version of OS X as yours (check in the "About This Mac" option in the Apple menu), you can copy the desired Application to your Mac via the network, by emailing it to yourself, or through removable media such as flash drives or CDs/DVDs.

  3. Use the OS X Installation DVD

    If you have your OS X installation DVD available, you can use the utility "Pacifist" to open the DVD install package and locate the lost application for extraction.

    While this is one option, it is not the preferrable one because the selected application may have been updated in a more recent version of OS X than the one which is on the DVD.

  4. Use Combo Updaters

    Using Apple's combo updaters is the better alternative than using the installation DVD if the application has been updated, so if the application you are looking for is in the combo updater, then use these with Pacifist first (or just reinstall the full combo updater again, which will not hurt your system). For the application that have been updated in the latest Combo updaters for various versions of OS X, see the following table:

Applications Included in OS X Combo Updaters
(click the version title to download the updater)
Address Book
DVD Player
Font Book
Front Row
Image Capture
Internet Connect
Photo Booth
QuickTime Player (X)
Script Editor
System Preferences
Time Machine
Activity Monitor
Audio MIDI Setup
Bluetooth File Exchange
Bluetooth Serial Utility
Bluetooth Setup Assistant
Boot Camp Assistant
ColorSync Utility
Directory Access
Directory Utility
Disk Utility
Keychain Access
Migration Assistant
Network Utility
NetInfo Manager
ODBC Administrator
Podcast Capture
Printer Setup Utility
QuickTime Player 7
RAID Utility
Remote Install Mac OS X
System Profiler
VoiceOver Utility

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