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#47644 - 01/21/18 11:55 AM System/File weirdness
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm trying to troubleshoot some weirdness on my system. I'm using OS X 10.12.6. I was looking at files in ~/Library/Cookies. There is a file 'com.apple.Safari.SearchHelper.binarycookies'. If I do a GET INFO it says it's openable with TextEdit. I click on the file and get this error message "“com.apple.Safari.SearchHelper.binarycookies” can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer." Also any time I do a GET INFO, the date created and date modified are the exact same and current within a few minutes.

If I delete the file, a new one is created and if I try to open it I get same error message above. How can a file created by OS X be from an unidentified developer? The file opens if I go to System Preferences - Security and click OK.

This behavior is NOT unique to only this file. There are many many files located in my ~/Library that do the same thing.

Is this normal?

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#47645 - 01/21/18 02:33 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
Urquhart Offline


Registered: 08/10/17
Loc: Netherlands
[Also 10.12.6] My .binarycookies documents are not linked to any particular application, and show as a generic Document in Get Info. I can drag-and-drop these fles to TextEdit in the Dock to open them without any warning. Date/time shows 2 hours ago, before and after opening. When I do a Search in the top Address field of Safari, then date/time is changed to ‘now’.
I’d say yours is a bit different.

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#47646 - 01/21/18 03:25 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Douglas
If I delete the file, a new one is created and if I try to open it I get same error message above.

How are you going about deleting it? I'm not certain, but it may be one of those files that macOS recreates in its original form if it's not deleted correctly.
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#47647 - 01/21/18 03:45 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
joemikeb Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
I had no trouble opening com.apple.safari.searchhelper.binarycookies with BBEdit. The content of the file is obviously binary, but there was enough ascii text to determine the content of the file contains Cookie data from a shopping cart I just visited.
Originally Posted By: BBEdit

cook�����
<snip — a lot of unreadable gobbledygook where BBEdit is attempting to make sense out of non-printing binary text.>
¿A.www.rockler.com�frontend�/�8daf27gcunvbilqma2qjnveb82�\��������������8���I���X���Z��������������ÇY ¿A���¬∞
¿A.www.rockler.com�sli_cart_items�/�0�_��������������8���I���X���Z��������������ÇY ¿A���¬∞
¿A.www.rockler.com�sli_cart_value�/�0.00����������º�������®���������������8���A���E���G�������������Ä‘cI—A�,
<snip — a few hundred (thousand?) more gobbledygook characters.>
If you really want to read this file and understand hexadecimal encoding of binary. iHex, Hex-Editor, Hex Edit Pro, and Hex are all available on the App Store at prices ranging from free to $6.99.

For details on how this file is used in Safari, you are going to have to have a long chat with Apple's Safari development team. As far as deleting it, I am confident it will be recreated the next time you launch Safari.


Edited by joemikeb (01/21/18 03:47 PM)
Edit Reason: clarification
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#47648 - 01/21/18 04:03 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
As far as deleting it, I am confident it will be recreated the next time you launch Safari.

It seems to be the sort of file that will be recreated by Safari, but I'm wondering if it needs to be deleted with the "defaults" command to avoid its being recreated in its pre-deletion state?
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#47649 - 01/21/18 04:25 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
Artie, what is the correct way to delete such a file? I just dragged it to the trash. I'm not interested in the content of this file, just why this and may other files tell me that it cannot be opened because its from an unidentified developer when it clearly is not. As I said I have many many such files in the ~/Library folder. Several in the Cookies folder, Cache folder and Safari folder.

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#47650 - 01/21/18 11:17 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Douglas
Artie, what is the correct way to delete such a file? I just dragged it to the trash. I'm not interested in the content of this file, just why this and may other files tell me that it cannot be opened because its from an unidentified developer when it clearly is not. As I said I have many many such files in the ~/Library folder. Several in the Cookies folder, Cache folder and Safari folder.

You got me thinking, Douglas, and now I'm not at all sure I was on the right track; I know the procedure I was going to suggest applies to plists, but I don't know if it applies to the particular critter(s) you've targeted.

But more to the point, I've always thought that Gatekeeper (which you invoked in System Prefs in your OP) applies to apps only, and, as a matter of fact, System Prefs > Security > General specifically says "Allow apps downloaded from:" Do you get a pop-up if you try to launch Text Edit from /Apps?

I think your problem needs further examination and better insight than I can offer at the moment.


Edited by artie505 (01/22/18 04:04 AM)
Edit Reason: Correction
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#47651 - 01/22/18 07:26 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
On MacOS 10.13 when I do a Get Info on com.apple.Safari.SearchHelper.binarycookies no default application to open the file is shown. If I select "other" for application there are several "recommended" applications but many of them are wildly inappropriate such as SoftRAID, 1Password, Airmail, & Drive Genius. Whatever I select the system offers to "ADD" that app to the list of those that can open the file.

Without access to the original source code I have no way of knowing with certainty what is going on but my speculation would be:
  • there is no installed application on the system that lists .binarycookies among the files it opens so the system is taking a wild, make that really wild, guess on the recommended applications.
  • when TexEdit opens the file it doesn't know what to do with it and so it raises an error condition and the error handling routine doesn't comprehend the condition raised for some reason — likely a coding oversight in the error handling routine or TexEdit.
  • so instead of reporting "unknown error" as it should, it lands on com.apple.Safari.SearchHelper.binarycookies” can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer. (This is not an uncommon error.)
You can report the error to Apple, but I would not hold my breath expecting a fix to Sierra.
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#47652 - 01/22/18 07:31 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
Yes, anytime I try to open any of those many files I get the 'unknown developer' error message.

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#47660 - 01/23/18 04:50 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Douglas
Yes, anytime I try to open any of those many files I get the 'unknown developer' error message.

Does Text Edit launch as expected from /Apps?

(This, by the way, is what Get Info tells me about my file, which opens in TextEdit, as does Urquhart's. All my files in that folder except for one that's a TextWrangler text document w icon [my doing, apparently, but I dunno why] are TextEdit.app Documents, but none of them carries the TextEdit icon.)

Okay, let's give this a shot; you've got nothing to lose and maybe we'll learn something.
  1. Quit Safari.
  2. Trash your file.
  3. Empty the trash.
  4. Shut down/Start up.
  5. Cross your fingers.
  6. Check your file.
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#47672 - 01/24/18 01:01 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
Followed your steps exactly and no change. Still get the 'unknown developer' message. Underneath the error message it says 'This file was created by an unknown application today at 10:13.

No change after updating to Safari 11.0.3 either.

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#47673 - 01/24/18 01:08 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Oh, well, nothing ventured...

The last thing I can think of to suggest is running or, as the case may be, rerunning the macOS Sierra 10.12.6 Combo Update.
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#47678 - 01/24/18 04:16 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
Does that combo update include all the latest updates issued since the original 10.12.6 was released.

This particular behavior began just after I did a Safari update last October if my memory is correct. In the mean time I downloaded the Safari update and reran that which did not fix the issue. Since it started after a Safari update I wonder if rerunning the 12.6 combo would do anything.

I've thought about using one of the apps that delete an app and all of it's associated files and then totally reinstalling Safari. Just don't want to have to reset all the preferences.

I just downloaded the combo update and a GetInfo says created & modified in July 2017 so I am assuming I would rerun that and then have to do all the updates since then.


Edited by Douglas (01/24/18 04:35 PM)
Edit Reason: Add additional info

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#47680 - 01/25/18 01:36 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Damn!!! For the first time in a mercifully long time I hit a wrong key combo and lost my detailed response, so I'm just going to wing it.

After giving this much thought...

If the Combo will even run for you (They're notoriously uncooperative critters.), it looks to me like it will leave you with Safari 10.1.2, and it also looks to me (judging from my receipts) that the update that may have resulted in your issue was to v 11.0.

In view of the fact that your issue is virtually totally inconsequential...it doesn't appear to be affecting your browsing experience, and you couldn't even really read those files even if you could open them, I'll suggest that if correcting it is going to leave you a full point version of Safari behind, it's a lousy tradeoff. (I guess it's time to ask how/why you even ran across this issue?)

You could, of course, revert your Safari and hope that re-updating it doesn't recreate your issue if it even corrects it in the first place, and if you're hell-bent to keep going, post back, and I'll help you as best I can.

Safari sinks its hooks so deeply into macOS that I doubt that any of those app removal apps could even begin to deal with it, and I'll even guess that the attempt could leave you having to do a nuke & pave.
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#47688 - 01/25/18 09:09 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: artie505]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm beginning to think there are gremlin in my MacMini. After doing another reboot this morning, I find that I no longer get the error message about an unknown developer. TextEdit opens the files just fine, all the other files that did the same thing open normally as well.

I discovered this when the 'cookies' quit acting properly on sites, like FindTunedMac, when you sign in there is a box to check that will keep you signed in. None of those check boxes work, on all my bank accounts, ISP, other forums. There are also check boxes on many sites for security questions that can be avoided by checking a box recognizing this computer.

Now the gremlins. Every time I close Safari, all cookies are deleted from every site. Close Safari. Open Safari go to Privacy Preference and there are NO cookies list, says it's empty. What could cause that?

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#47693 - 01/25/18 01:52 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
alternaut Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: Douglas
Every time I close Safari, all cookies are deleted from every site. Close Safari. Open Safari go to Privacy Preference and there are NO cookies list, says it's empty. What could cause that?

Are you by any chance using Private Windows when browsing the web? Even if your answer is no (based on your usual File menu selection), make sure that the top item on Safari Prefs General pane is NOT set to ‘A new private window’.
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#47697 - 01/25/18 04:08 PM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: alternaut]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
Nope, have never used Private Window

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#47702 - 01/26/18 06:55 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
joemikeb Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Douglas
I discovered this when the 'cookies' quit acting properly on sites, like FindTunedMac, when you sign in there is a box to check that will keep you signed in. None of those check boxes work, on all my bank accounts, ISP, other forums. There are also check boxes on many sites for security questions that can be avoided by checking a box recognizing this computer.

Now the gremlins. Every time I close Safari, all cookies are deleted from every site. Close Safari. Open Safari go to Privacy Preference and there are NO cookies list, says it's empty. What could cause that?

There are a number of Apps such as Cookie 5 and Cookie Stumbler and even Safari extensions that can be set to delete all Cookies when quitting Safari or at specific intervals such as every day. These apps will easily override any site specific checkboxes in Safari. You might start by taking a hard look at any privacy, ad blocking, or cookie management apps and Safari extensions you have installed.

You might start by disabling Safari extensions to see if that cures the deletion problem. Don't overlook any maintenance apps you run regularly such as OnyX, Cocktail, or similar.
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#47712 - 01/27/18 09:43 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: joemikeb]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
The only utility I have is Cocktail. This morning I used the 'uninstall' command and also used a removal app to make sure I got all the files.

Will see if that changes anything.

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#47756 - 02/01/18 09:42 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
Douglas Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Seattle, WA
There has been some change. The 'remember my ID' is now holding for about half a day. The first day it lasted the entire day but keeps holding for less but seems have to stabilized at about a day now. Not the way it used to be but better.

Any time I do a 'Get Info' on the file the date created and date modified are always exactly the same.

I have now 'locked' the file and will see what if anything that does. I checked the file last night before I went to bed and it was about 50k in size. This morning when I got up it was just over 20k so something is causing the file to delete content. I do not shut down my computer at night, I just put it to sleep. I don't see any app on my system that could be doing this.

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#48075 - 03/01/18 05:13 AM Re: System/File weirdness [Re: Douglas]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
Funny you should mention binary cookies, I was just researching them yesterday! They are an undocumented format though a few people have explored them a bit. I was hoping for a way to browse my cookies and maybe even be able to edit them. I'm surprised there's no way to directly edit them in Safari. Let me know if you run into a tool somewhere for that. I was expecting to at least find a command line tool built in to edit them, like most other things. (keychains are a good example)

Actually I was REALLY expecting them to be in an SQL database. Several other browsers track their cookies that way, and that's nice and easy for me to work with. But no, not Apple, they gotta do it their own way frown
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