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Is there a command line utility to which I can pass a filename, that will return applicable UTIs for that file?

For example:

hypothetical-uti-fetcher /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Aqua\ Blue.jpg

might give me:

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

You can use the mdls command to find the UTI for a file. Just do the command mdls /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Aqua\ Blue.jpg and it will give you a bunch of info, toward the top it will say something like kMDItemContentType = "public.plain-text". Hope this helps!

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Excellent. Thanks. mdls -name kMDItemContentTypeTree /Library/Desktop\ Pictures/Aqua\ Blue.jpg is exactly what I wanted. – smokris Nov 10 '10 at 0:41
You're welcome, I'm glad this helped. – Wuffers Nov 10 '10 at 1:06
Suppose I turned off my Spotlight index and I seem to have no metadata stored. (mdls whatever-file just says that the file was not found). How do the md* services generate the content types in the first place? – Aurel Bílý Feb 17 '15 at 17:53

The mdls command only seems to work on Spotlight indexed files. If you run it on a mounted disk image, cd or thumb drive it may return no information at all. If the filetype's has quite an extensive list of UTIs and is quite helpful. When you're developing a Quicklook Plugin it's also useful to use the following command to see what UTIs Quicklook thinks a file has and which plugins it uses for the preview:

qlmanage -d 4 -p /path/to/file
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