Customise OS X Lion app categories

Macworld Australia Staff
22 September, 2012
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Macworld Australia reader Michael Simcox has an issue with OS X Lion, he says:

In Lion’s Finder, I can group files, folders and applications in many ways – such as name or date last opened – and I find this a handy way to navigate. However, when I view by application category (View > Arrange By > Application Category), OS X lumps many apps into a category called Other. Even when it does categorise an app more specifically, I find that I often disagree with its categorisation: For example, Amazon’s Kindle app is classified as Reference, while I want it to appear under Entertainment.

Is it possible to change the category an app is assigned to or even add new categories? 

It certainly is possible. If the app is running, quit it and then go to /Applications, Control-click (or right- click) on the app in question and choose Show Package Contents from the contextual menu.

Open the Contents folder, look for the info.plist file and open it in a plain- text editor. (You may be prompted as to whether you really want to unlock the file for editing; assure OS X that you want to do so.)

Lumped together. You can change the categories for the apps labelled as ‘others’ by the Finder.

If your app is already categorised as something besides Other, search for the string LSApplicationCategoryType. If you can’t find that string or if it’s a previously uncategorised app, you must add a new key. (If you do find the string, skip the next paragraph.)

To add a new key to the info.plist file, skip the first four lines (the last of which should be an XML <dict> tag). On the line below it, insert this line (without any spaces): <key>LSApplicationCategory Type</key>. Press Return.

Now type: <string>public. app-category. productcategory</string> (again, without spaces). Then, in that same line, replace category.productcategory with one of the entries from Apple’s list of approved product categories (find the list at Mac developer library).

Copy the category name you want to specify for your app from that list and then paste it into the info.plist file, making sure you paste it exactly as it appears in Apple’s list. When you’ve finished, save your changes and go back to your Applications folder. If
it isn’t already arranged by Application Category, use Arrange By to make it so.

If your app doesn’t immediately appear in the category you specified, you may need to move the app out of the Applications folder temporarily and then return it to the folder to make the Finder notice the change.

Moving apps in Lion can be tricky, however. Start by dragging the app to the desktop. If, instead of moving the actual app, OS X creates an alias there, hold down the command key and drag the app to the desktop again.

Once the application has been moved, just move it back into the Applications folder again. It should now appear in the application group you specified.

One Comment

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  1. Pablo says:

    Now how do we re-categorise “Application” categories for folders and documents? That is, folders in the Finder are categorised as “Other” when it seems they should be placed in a category called Finder, seeing as the Finder opens folders.

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