QuickLook and Archive Utility Not Working

The iMac I use at work had a few users by the time I started using it. Since taking over as the primary user, I noticed a bunch of issues with it. Firstly QuickLook would crash when previewing anything, images, PDFs, documents. Anything at all. Secondly, I was unable to ZIP any files at all. When I tried, I just got the error “The contents list can’t be created for compressing.” Finally, no apps would auto update (where they quit and reopen themselves as a newer version).

I’m writing this because I’ve realised all the issues are connected and hopefully this will help anyone else with the same problem. For me, the solution was composed of fragments across the web.

After a bunch of searching, I managed to fix the QuickLook issue after realising that the /tmp folder was missing (no idea why it wasn’t there and I guess a bunch of stuff cannot work without it). So I recreated that and presto!

After some time of being frustrated at not being able to ZIP anything, I found out this relies on the temporary directory too, but I found out that actually /private/tmp was the real temporary directory and /tmp should symlink to it.

So, if anyone else has had these issues, here’s a set of terminal commands that should help.

sudo rm -rf /tmp
sudo rm -rf /private/tmp

These will just clean up both the temporary directories incase something is setup wrongly. Don’t worry about deleting this stuff, it’s just temporary after all.

sudo mkdir /private/tmp
sudo chmod 777 /private/tmp
sudo chmod +t /private/tmp

Here we create the temporary directory and set the correct permissions on it.

sudo ln -s /private/tmp /tmp

Finally we set up the symlink between /private/tmp and /tmp. This fixes my issues. Oh, and I haven’t tested the auto updating apps, but this must be what’s causing those to fail. I’ll update the post to confirm or deny this later.