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Problem: after downloading an application in OS X Yosemite (10.10.x) trying to open the application (either from the command-line or by double-clicking the application) produces a dialog saying "The application “SomeApp.app” can’t be opened."

the application "LinCastor.app" can't be opened - dialog

Note that this differs from the "SomeApp can't be opened because it was not downloaded from the Mac App Store" or "SomeApp can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” message that is the result of Gatekeeper settings.

4 Answers 4

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After extensive trial-and-error, and a lot of fruitless Googling, I found the solution required modifying the executable status of the "inner" application file. This line: chmod +x SomeApp.app/Contents/MacOS/*

Fixed the problem in all cases that I observed. The +x flags a file as executable, and the only file in the /Contents/MacOS/ directory is a binary representing the actual file that should be executed when you double-click the application (a .app file is really just a folder).

Hope this helps someone else!

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    You should definitely edit the executable flag of binaries in app bundles if they are not set. Dec 26, 2015 at 19:12
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    I'd add that I've specifically used this to fix applications created for OSX with Unity. My guess would be that these app bundles have been packaged up on another platform (like Windows) that doesn't get OSX permissions right. Aug 20, 2016 at 20:38
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    I had to CHMOD 777 the file before it actually worked. Thanks. Sep 30, 2016 at 5:57
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    This can happen if you extract the app from a zip file using an unzip program other than the default Archive Utility.app. Sometimes unzipping with Archive Utility instead will preserve permissions and avoid the need for the solution here.
    – Jason
    Feb 11, 2017 at 7:45
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    Not working on osX Catalina Jun 13, 2019 at 21:29
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  1. in the Finder, locate the app (in the Applications folder, most likely)
  2. Press the Control-key and click the app icon
  3. Choose Open from the contextual menu

As in App Cannot Be Opened (even though that describes a workaround for the Gatekeeper app, it works for the scenario in the question as well)

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When I get The application SomeApp.app can’t be opened, I

  1. Open a terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app),

  2. And type: sudo killall launchservicesd

  3. If the Dock is also misbvehaving, I'll also type killall Dock.

  4. Then, I am able to open SomeApp (or any app).

Is that ok with everyone?

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    Can you explain what this has to do with the question? Dec 7, 2015 at 5:41
  • When I get The application “SomeApp.app” can’t be opened', I kill launchservicesd, and sometimes Dock, and then I am able to open SomeApp. What is so bewildering about that?
    – mralexgray
    Dec 7, 2015 at 5:46
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    @mralexgray: please expand your answer to include your comment and clarify your answer. Otherwise, this isn't much help, as-is.
    – studiohack
    Dec 8, 2015 at 16:29
  • It's SO simple and SO clear. Run the command... and the problem is fixed. 'Nuff said.
    – mralexgray
    Dec 8, 2015 at 17:00
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    Ran the commands. The problem wasn't fixed. Maybe if you put more information about what is actually happening when these commands are run it would help with fixing problem where this doesn't quite work as expected. It's simple, and clear enough, I suppose, but not complete. Notice there was no request to simplify or clarify this, but to expand it. The fact that it doesn't work for me right now makes me also wish it were expanded with more detail. Apr 17, 2016 at 22:13
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This can also happen when app is quarantined by macOS.

Ran into an interesting edge case where app sent over Telegram would not open.

Deleting app form “Applications” folder and downloading fresh copy fixed the issue.

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