How to Refresh Launchpad in Mac OS X
Launchpad is the app launcher in Mac OS X that is quite like the iOS Home Screen, showing a series of app icons and names on a simple screen making it very easy to launch whatever apps you want to open. It’s a nice utility and feature built into the Mac, but it does have some quirky behavior from time to time. One of those issues is that sometimes apps won’t appear in Launchpad at all, or perhaps when you delete an app it doesn’t disappear from Launchpad as it’s supposed to. If you run into this or any other irregularities with Launchpad, try this great tip left by one of our readers to discover how to refresh Launchpad and all of its contents.
These tricks work to refresh and relaunch Launchpad for all Macs with versions of OS X that include the native feature, including Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and beyond.
Launchpad is attached to the Dock app, so the easiest way to relaunch LaunchPad is to kill the Dock from the command line:
Both the Dock and Launchpad will relaunch and that should clear up most minor issues with app persistence.
How to Refresh Launchpad Contents
If relaunching alone hasn’t fixed LaunchPad and apps are still not showing up, try deleting Launchpads database files located inside your home ~/Library directory, which forces them to rebuild. The directory path you are looking for is:
The fastest way to get there is by using Command+Shift+G in the Finder to access the “Go To Folder” function, then just paste that directory path in. You will see a folder like this:
If you want to back these up you can, otherwise just delete them by dragging all of the .db files to the Trash, and then kill the Dock again from the Terminal to force the databases to regenerate.
Take note that you will lose any custom icon placement and folders that are setup within Launchpad, because that information is stored in the database file you are trashing.
One-Line Terminal Command to Refresh Launchpad Contents in OS X
If you are comfortable with the command line, you can also do this entire process through the Terminal with the following commands:
rm ~/Library/Application\ Support/Dock/*.db ; killall Dock
Be sure to issue that command exactly as written, because the rm command is powerful and will delete everything without asking, and * is a wildcard for any files matching the *.db name (meaning, anything that ends with .db).
If you want control over exactly what shows up in Launchpad rather than just creating a bunch of folders, use the third party System Preference Launchpad Control, it’s free and works as a sql frontend to the Launchpad database.
Again, this works in OS X 10.7, OS X 10.8, OS X 10.9, and newer.
If you wish to reset the Launchpad in MacOS Sierra, El Capitan, and newer, you can do so here with these instructions.
Thanks to Igo for the tip left in the comments!