Apparency

A User Guide

Opening an App in Apparency

general info

There are several ways to open an app using Apparency:

If you don't see the Open With Apparency item in the Services menu or in the Finder context menu, choose Finder > Services > Services Preferences, scroll down to the Development group, and make sure that Open With Apparency is checked. You can also add a keyboard shortcut here, if you wish, but that's not necessary to make the menu item appear.

Whichever method you choose, Apparency opens a new window, showing the app itself, along with any components inside it: Apparency main window

You can actually open any macOS bundle with Apparency, including an app plug-in or a system framework. You can also open a “bare” executable file, such as one found in /usr/local/bin. A bare executable can have many of the same attributes as a bundle, and can even have an embedded Info.plist.

Examining the App Structure

The browser, on the left side of the main Apparency window, shows the basic structure of the app: examining app structure

At the top of this view is the app itself. Most apps also contain other components inside them — frameworks, plug-ins, app extensions, Spotlight importers and so on. These components are shown underneath the main app, using a hierarchical view similar to the Finder's List view. If any of the components contain sub-components, use the disclosure button to expand these further.

Apparency doesn't show all of the individual files inside the app bundle. The Finder is a better tool for navigating files: control-click the app icon and choose Show Package Contents.

Rather, Apparency shows bundles — and bare executables — that are found in defined places within the app, as defined by macOS. For example, macOS requires app extensions to be placed in Contents/PlugIns, so that is one place that Apparency looks. The point is to show components that add to system functionality (as is the case with app extensions, for example), as well as those that are simply part of the app's internal organization (such as frameworks).

The columns of the browser show some basic information about the app, and any components:

Click on the Name, Kind or Version column title to re-order the components accordingly. This can be useful for an app with a large number of components.

Getting Information About a Component

The info pane, on the right side of the main Apparency window, shows information about the app or other component that is currently selected in the browser: show component info

General Information

In the top part of the info pane, Apparency shows general information about the app or component:

general info

Document Types and Other Info.plist Properties

In the middle part of the info pane, Apparency shows a summary of the file and other types that the app provides to macOS, via its Info.plist file:

document type info

For each of these, Apparency simply shows how many of each type is found (because it is difficult to summarize the contents in any succinct way). To see the actual definitions, click the link to Info.plist button button in front of the number: this will show the Info.plist, with the appropriate property selected and expanded.

Code Signature, Sandbox and Gatekeeper Info

In the lower part of the info pane, Apparency shows the status of the code signature and other security features:

signature info

Getting Details About a Component

While the info pane gives you a summary of the selected app or component, there are buttons in the toolbar that allow you to see more details. (Some of these are also available through buttons in the info pane itself; use whichever one is more convenient.)

Show the Code Signature

If the selected app or component was signed, click the Signature toolbar button Signature toolbar button (or use Cmd-Shift-S) to see the actual signing certificate and other details about the verification of the signature (including the applicable Gatekeeper policy, as discussed above). signature and trust dialog

Click the Show Certificate button to examine the certificate that created the signature, and the entire chain up to the (hopefully) trusted Certificate Authority, which is typically the Apple Root CA.

Show the Info Property List

The information property list — or simply, the Info.plist — contains a number of Apple-defined properties. These tell macOS how the app or component works, what it can do, what icon to show, what documents it can handle, and many other things. Apparency extracts a few interesting bits of the Info.plist to show in its info pane — such as the version information, the bundle identifier, and so on — but you may still want to examine the Info.plist in its entirety.

Click the Property List toolbar button Property List toolbar button (or use Cmd-Shift-I) to view the Info.plist file for the selected app or component: Info.plist view

Most of the Info.plist keys have some sort of documentation on Apple's Developer site: to jump directly to that documentation, select a row and click Open Apple Documentation for Key. (If this button is disabled, Apparency doesn't have a direct link for that key, either because the key isn't documented or because we didn't find the documentation to index it.) Alternatively, when you move the pointer over a key name, if a link button link to documentation button appears on the right side, clicking this will also take you to the documentation for that property.

If you're looking for a particular key or value, click in the search field (or use Cmd-F) and type the text you want to find. Apparency will show only the rows that match, or for arrays or dictionaries, the rows that contain matches. Click the search options button search options button to choose between searching keys and values, or to restrict the way that text matches. Click the cancel button cancel search button to return to viewing the unfiltered Info.plist.

Show the Entitlements

The entitlements of an app or component represent specific capabilities that the component requires to do its work. macOS grants (or denies) these capabilities to the app or component, based on the entitlements and (sometimes) other restrictions. Entitlements take several forms:

Click the Entitlements toolbar button Entitlements toolbar button (or use Cmd-Shift-E) to view the entitlements for the selected app or component: entitlements view

As described above for the Info.plist, documentation links to Apple's Developer site is available for some entitlement keys.

Likewise, you can use the search field to filter entitlements on specific key or value text.

Show Executable Information

Apparency can show details about the actual executable file associated with an app or component. Click the Executable toolbar button Executable toolbar button (or use Cmd-Shift-X) to view this information for the selected component. (If the button is disabled, the component doesn't contain an executable at all, which can be the case for certain types of components, like plug-ins.) executable view

The information shown for an executable is mostly of the sort you would otherwise need the otool(1) or objdump(1) tools to access:

Examining Components in Other Apps

Occasionally, you may want to see a specific component in the Finder; for example, to look at the individual files that it contains. You can do this easily from Apparency: select the component in the browser, and click the Show in Finder toolbar button Show in Finder toolbar button (or use Cmd-Shift-R).

Alternatively, if you want to examine a component in the Terminal, you can select it and choose Edit > Copy Path for Component (Cmd-Shift-C). Then you can paste that path into the Terminal, or wherever.

If you want to show — or copy the path to — the executable, instead of the component itself, hold down Option while doing the above.

Using From Quick Look

Apparency provides a Quick Look Preview extension for macOS 10.15 (Catalina), which adds a bit more information to the standard macOS preview for apps.

The Apparency preview works in any normal Quick Look context. For example, if you open a Finder window to your Applications folder and choose View > as Gallery, you'll get an enhanced preview for the selected app: Quick Look preview

Note that the information in the Quick Look preview is only for the top-level app that you select; it doesn't consider any components within it. Click the Open With Apparency button to easily open the app in Apparency, where you can see all the details.

Unfortunately, the Quick Look preview isn't available on macOS 10.14 (Mojave).