App Translocation and LaunchBar

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Kevin Yank
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Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:00 pm

App Translocation and LaunchBar

Post by Kevin Yank » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:54 am

Since upgrading to macOS Sierra, I’ve wrestled with newly-installed applications being translocated by macOS, even after I move them from my Downloads folder to my Applications folder. I believe I have traced this issue to LaunchBar.

As described on the Objective Development Blog, unsigned applications are “translocated” by macOS Sierra when they are launched from the Downloads folder, where they are originally extracted. This translocation prevents tools like Little Snitch that depend on applications’ paths being fixed from working properly, since the application is launched from a different path every time it runs.

Normally, simply moving an application out of the Downloads folder (e.g. and into the Applications folder) will cause the app quarantine extended attribute to be updated so that app translocation does not occur; however, it appears that LaunchBar does not update the app quarantine attribute when moving an application bundle from Downloads.

As a longtime LaunchBar user, I long ago became accustomed to installing applications using LaunchBar. I’ll extract the ZIP archive by selecting it from my Downloads folder in LaunchBar, and then I’ll use LaunchBar to move the extracted application from Downloads to Applications. But because LaunchBar doesn’t “switch off” translocation for apps moved in this way, my system has gradually become plagued with more and more strange behaviour as more and more of my applications have been running with translocation after I installed them with LaunchBar.

It looks like other developers in the macOS ecosystem have wrestled with this issue (see also), which will impact any tool that users might use to move their downloaded applications from the Downloads folder.

Now that I know about this issue, I can avoid the problem by not using LaunchBar to move my newly-downloaded Applications out of Downloads; however, I expect there are many other LaunchBar users out there suffering from the strange side-effects of this issue (particularly when you use both LaunchBar and Little Snitch!). Is there any chance LaunchBar could be updated to correctly set the QTN_FLAG_DO_NOT_TRANSLOCATE bit in quarantined applications’ extended attributes when moving them the way Finder does?

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