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How to reset and manage the OS X 10.7 Launchpad interface

Apple's new Launchpad feature in OS X Lion may be a bit cumbersome to organize if you have numerous applications, so here are some tips on resetting and managing it, if needed.

Apple is promoting the new Launchpad program launcher and organizing interface in OS X Lion, a means of managing applications that should be familiar to iOS users. I personally find Launchpad to be one of the more useless of the new features in OS X Lion, but regardless of whether or not you like the interface, it may take a bit of organization and customization to suit your needs.

By default Launchpad will show all of your installed applications, and if you click and hold one application they will all go into the familiar iOS "wiggle" mode in which you can then drag them into groups and move them around as you see fit. While you might enjoy doing this on a new system, if you have a number of applications already installed on a system that you have upgraded to Lion, then you may experience a certain level of frustration in dealing with pages and pages of application icons, especially if you have multiple Parallels Desktop virtual machines installed.

If you are experiencing these frustrations with Launchpad and still wish to use the feature, then one approach you might consider is to clear out Launchpad and start it over from scratch, to organize as you see fit. The Launchpad items are all organized and stored in a SQLite database file located in the ~/Library/Application Support/Dock/ folder, which can be cleared by running the following command (courtesy of Loren Segal at

sqlite3 ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db "DELETE from apps; \
DELETE from groups WHERE title<>''; DELETE from items WHERE rowid>2;" \
&& killall Dock

Be sure to copy and paste all three lines into the Terminal. While Terminal commands run on one line, the backslashes at the end of the lines here allow the return character to be "escaped," so all of these lines are run as if they are on the same line.

When this is done, you will have a marvelously blank Launchpad interface, so to add your applications again all you have to do is drag them to the Launchpad icon in the Dock (drag the Launchpad program itself from the /Applications folder to the Dock if it is not already there). Any new applications you purchase through the Mac App Store will be automatically added to Launchpad.

Be sure to back up the database file before you alter it by copying it to your Desktop or another safe location. If for some reason you have messed up Launchpad and wish to restore your previous settings then you can restore the backup (or even use Time Machine to restore a previously backed up database file) and then log out and log back in to your system.

If you wish to reset the Launchpad to its default settings and organization, then all you need to do is delete the database file. To do this, press the Option key and choose Library from the Go menu in the Finder, and then navigate to the /Application Support/Dock/ folder and remove the ".db" file (it will have a long string of letters and numbers as its name). Or you can run the following command in the Terminal:

rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db

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