Possible fix for Mac apps that immediately quit

Out of the blue, iMovie decided to stop working for me. I’d launch it, and it would immediately quit. Not crashing, just quitting. (No crash log was generated.) The dock icon wouldn’t even appear.

I knew it wasn’t a problem with the iMovie application itself because when I switched to another user account on the same machine, iMovie ran fine. It had to be something in my home directory that was causing the problem.

Normally, simply getting rid of any preferences or caches fixes this sort of problem. I checked my account and found these:

  • ~/Library/iMovie/
  • ~/Library/Caches/iMovie HD/
  • ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iMovie.plist
  • ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iMovie3.plist

Unfortunately, moving them out of my Library directory didn’t change a thing. iMovie was still quitting on launch. Frustrated, I took my PowerBook to the local Apple Store for some advice, but even the “genius” at the bar wasn’t able to help. I returned home thinking that I’d have to reinstall Mac OS X before iMovie would ever work again.

I decided to give iMovie one last try. On a whim, I dragged its icon out of the Applications folder and into my Desktop, then launched it from there. Imagine my shock when iMovie started up! I quit, moved the icon back to Applications, and launched iMovie again. It still worked! Everything was back to normal.


I have no idea why dragging iMovie out of the Applications folder solved the problem. In fact, it shouldn’t have worked. But it did. Assuming this is not some obscure and one-in-a-zillion issue, it may affect other Mac apps, not just iMovie, so I’m posting this tip in the hope that it might help others who encounter the same problem I did.

Leave a Reply