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Double Clicking woes

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We have 8.5.2 on our Macintoshes and we have a deviance between machines that has got me stumped. In the finder, our VW drawing files are listed as "Vector Works 8 Drawing". Double clicking on thewm launches the application saved on each machine's hard drive. Our newest machine (a G4 running OS 9.1) lists the same file type as a MiniCad document. This would merely be annoying or funny except that it also means that when we double-click on the document, the VW application won't launch and the message will say that the original application that created the document cannot be found. We have another machine that lists the files type correctly but also won't launch the application since it says it cannot find the required translators.

The application was installed the same way on each computer. Has anyone else found this funniness in the finder's treatment of VW files.

The workaround is to just launch the application, of course, and use file/open, but I would like to be able to double click from the finder as I am accustomed to elsewhere.

-Dan Rafferty

Ryall Porter Architects


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Rebuilding the desktop should fix the problem. I know people recommend this as a solution for all sorts of problems ranging from simple crashes to poison ivy, but in this case it should fix the problem.

The 'desktop database' (it used to be just a file, but since System 7 or so, it's actually several files) is maintained by the Finder. It's basically a map that tells the Finder which applications created which files, and what icons to use for each different kind of file. Occasionally, the database will for some reason or other have a missing or incorrect record, and this can cause the kind of problem you're experiencing. I'll bet your files probably have a MiniCAD document icon too, right? Anyway, you can force the Finder to rebuild the database. Restart your computer and hold down the command and option keys until the Finder starts up and asks you whether you want to rebuild the desktop. Answer 'yes' and let it do it's thing for a few minutes. The Finder will scan all the applications on your disk and refresh the information about which file types each app can open.

Here's a little tip: it's not strictly necessary to restart the whole machine just to rebuild the desktop database! You can save a few seconds by quitting all running applications, and then forcing the Finder to quit by pressing command, option, and escape. Hold down the command and option keys as above. This really doesn't save a whole lot of time over just restarting, but it might impress your friends. ;-)

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