Pop Quiz: Apple/Mac strange icon overlay

A "no access" sign overlaid on the default mac application icon

I would be most interested in any (semi-)official documentation on this particular icon overlay, and when it is used by Mac OS X. I was unable to unearth anything – possibly because I don’t know what to look for.

9 thoughts on “Pop Quiz: Apple/Mac strange icon overlay

  1. I believe that is the “No Access” overlay, for when you don’t have permissions to access a folder/application. I can’t find any information on it, either, though 🙁

  2. This icon overlay is used when an application is not compatible with your computer. In particular, it’s used for Classic applications on Intel systems.

  3. I’d be interested in knowing what circumstances might cause this icon to be displayed in error. I suspect something to do with LaunchServices, but I’m not entirely sure. I was recently having problems where this overlay would be placed on just about EVERY app — all native — on my PPC Mac.

    Smokey and I talked a bit about it on IRC but like him, I can’t find anything about it on Apple’s site either.

  4. And further on Eric’s comment – for non-Universal Binary OS X applications. The other day, I downloaded an application (I forget which one) that came with both Intel & PPC versions in a .zip file. I was quite curious to see that icon, as I was using my MacBook, and that was overlayed on the PPC build. Now, I guess that magic is better explained to me, as I initially thought it was the clever work of the programmer, but now it seems clear that it’s an OS X feature.

  5. Everyone, thanks for the comments so far. I suppose I’m in a similar boat as Chris – I’d like to know how Mac OS X determines when to show the icon overlay, because it is used for other things than Intel/PPC build differences.

    Recently, a XULRunner app I installed using a non-libxul XULRunner debug build (non-libxul is unfortunately the default debug build configuration at the moment) got this icon and wouldn’t start. So while the icon was ‘right’ in a way (the app couldn’t start unless you set the DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable), it was also quite annoying not to have any explanation as to how Mac OS X determined this, and what was actually wrong (as starting the app from Finder just “did nothing”.

    Like Smokey and Chris, though, I’ve been unable to find anything on Apple’s site :-(.

  6. Anything that is an executable application that your mac can’t actually run, gets that icon:

    – Intel-only Apps on PPC
    – Classic apps on Intel
    – ARM apps on anything that isn’t an iPhone or iPod touch.

  7. I’m getting this overlay on apps that work without a problem on my new mbp so have no idea where the problem is!
    The apps that show the overlay are textmate, svnx and slingplayer. Anybody else able to shed light on this?

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