Fixing Finder Launch Issues

A while back I mentioned that I was having issues with the Finder window not opening in macOS Catalina. I have tried different ways to fix this including the desperation move of installing macOS Catalina beta 5 on my main iMac. I started wondering if a macOS process called Launch Services might have something to do with the Finder not working properly. After all, the Finder does launch all kinds of stuff right? What I tried to fix this issue worked. Here is what I did.

Launch Services Rebuild

So, what is Launch Services? Here is Apple’s definition of Launch Services:

macOS Launch Services is an API that enables a running application to open other applications or their document files in a way similar to the Finder or the Dock. Using Launch Services, an application can perform such tasks as:

  • Open (launch or activate) another application
  • Open a document or a URL (uniform resource locator) in another application
  • Identify the preferred application for opening a given document or URL
  • Register information about the kinds of document files and URLs an application is capable of opening
  • Obtain appropriate information for displaying a file or URL on the screen, such as its icon, display name, and kind string
  • Maintain and update the contents of the Recent Items menu

See that phrase “in a way similar to the Finder”? That was my first clue. Based on my research I decided to Rebuild the Launch Services Database. You can do this with different Mac Utility Apps like Onyx and MacPilot, but I chose Cocktail:

Cocktail Window

Once in Cocktail you need to click on the “System Tab”:

Rebuild Database

You click on the “Rebuild” button and Cocktail rebuilds your Launch Services Database. The Launch Services Database retains all of your fill associations. A file association is telling the macOS (the Finder) to open all Microsoft Word docs with the Pages App for example. So, if you have created several file associations you would not want to check the box “Restore default file associations”. When Cocktail is finished rebuilding the Launch Services Database it requests that you Restart your Mac. Once it has Restarted give the Finder a try. My Finder has operated property ever since I did this. Keep in mind, other Mac Utilities may have a slightly different procedure, but they are doing the same thing.


What a relief to it is to have my Finder working properly. Talk about an integral part of the macOS. If you have a third party Mac Utility App, I recommend performing this procedure. It may solve your Finder issues.