App Store hide’n’seek

I haven’t had much chance to play with the new Mac App Store, but I think it shows a lot of promise. It’s already introduced me to an excellent new app called Alfred, a very promising replacement for the sadly fading Quicksilver. But the App Store isn’t without it’s problems at the moment.

The biggest “gotcha” I’ve encountered is with trying to link applications that I’ve already installed to my App Store account, so that I can get the quick and easy upgrades it makes available (installing and upgrading apps from the App Store is really nice). I found out to my disappointment that there is no way to link applications I’ve paid for without buying them again (Apple really should offer developers a way to allow existing customers to upgrade to the App Store versions for a reduced fee), but I didn’t think I’d have any hassle with free applications. Well, it does work, but I discovered that it’s not necessarily straightforward.

I’m a big fan of the OS X Twitter client Itsy. It’s simple, lightweight and easy to use. I much prefer it to both the official Twitter client, and the other popular Mac OS X app Twitterrific. When I came across it on the App Store, I decided I’d like to download it. I was impressed to see that the App Store app showed it as installed, but less impressed that it offered me no option to overwrite my existing version. A quick Google search told me that I should delete the currently installed version, relaunch the App Store app, and all would be well.

A quick trip to the Terminal to remove the Itsy.app bundle, relaunch the App Store, and oh, it still shows as installed. I tried logging out and back in, but the result was the same. Itsy was gone from my Applications folder, but the App Store app still showed it as installed. A restart led to the same result. Well, that was annoying, but not the end of the world. I logged into my administrator account, and used Titanium’s excellent Onyx to remove the system caches, in case this was causing the problem. I let Onyx do it’s stuff while I continued sorting my bank statements into date order (it’s Tax Return time again). Another restart, then back to the App Store app to discover that, oh for goodness sake, it’s still showing Itsy as installed?

So, I did what I should probably have done in the first place. I ran a Spotlight search for Itsy, and discovered a copy of it still in my Installers folder (I have a habit of dropping apps that I download into this shared folder, so that when I log in as an admin user, I can install them with the correct ownership and permissions settings). I dropped the rogue copy of Itsy into the Trash, relaunched the App Store app, and sure enough, it was now available for free download. A real facepalm moment.

So, the moral of the story is that if you have an application that the App Store insists is installed, make sure you look further than your Applications folder before you resort to drastic measures. But at least I finally got around to doing some overdue clean up on my iMac.

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