Written by: hexley on Wednesday March 12th 2008, 10:56 AM
Every window you open in the Finder of OS X has what is called a “sidebar” attached to it. The sidebar is nothing more than a quick way to get to places you often visit. Apple has been kind enough to seed it with some common items. These default items may or may not be useful to you personally.
The good news is, you are free to change the sidebar to your liking. You can even close off the sidebar and make it disappear if you are so inclined.
The default sidebar
As seen blow, the default sidebar has three sections. Devices, Places, and Search For. Devices are items such as drives, UEB thumb drives, disc images, or otherwise, any form of “removable media”.
Under devices, is places, which are quick links to places on your computer. Clicking on any of them will bring the window to that location in an instant.
The “Search For” section is a little more complex. For the time being, use what Apple has supplied. It can find all files from today, or yesterday, or even the entire past week. You can further locate all images, documents, or even movies.
The search section uses what are called smart folders. Smart folders are not really folders, but a way to quickly generate a dynamic folder based on search criteria. Smart folders are powerful; we will cover them in detail shortly.
Customizing the sidebar
You have two ways to customize the sidebar. Three, if you include hiding it altogether. If you look at your Finder Preferences, which was covered in OS X Finder tutorial and customizations (Part 2), you can toggle certain items on and off.
Take some time to disable the ones you know you will never use. The less items in your sidebar by default; the more space you will have to add personalized items of your own liking.
Close off or resize the sidebar
The thin vertical line that separates the sidebar from your files is adjustable. You can move your mouse to it, and the cursor will change to a set of cross arrows. Click, hold, and drag, and not only can you resize the width; but you can also shrink it to the far left. This will completely remove the sidebar from that particular window.
Personalize your sidebar
I have found very few people take the time to personalize their sidebar. Perhaps it is just that people are not aware you can make changes to its behavior.
If there are items in the sidebar you do not want, just drag them out. In the usual animated poof, they will disappear. This is a non-destructive action, meaning that no items are deleted. Only the link or shortcut is deleted, your files and folders are safe.
If you want to add a particular file or folder to the sidebar, just drag it in place. While I cannot personally think of any compelling reason to add a single file to the sidebar, many of you may have great reason to. So by all means, do what is best for you.
Finally, you can rearrange items as well. A click, hold and drag with your mouse, and you can put sidebar items alphabetically, or in any order you see fit.
Since the sidebar is customized so little in my experience, along with the methods in which you customize the sidebar being hard to explain in words…
Video example of sidebar customization
If all goes as planned, you can look forward to what I consider one of the most important lessons the site has had to date. Check back tomorrow to demystify file downloading. If you have any questions, as usual, use the contact links to drop us an email.
Sadly, I appear to be caught up with your excellent blog, which I’m really enjoying, and learning a lot from. Can’t wait for the ‘file downloading demystification’, I’m still confused about the icons that appear on my desktop from loading software, etc…which I can throw away, which ones I have to move to Applications.Comment by Matt Nikos 03.13.08 @ 11:08 AM
Scott, as you know, with Windows you can drag any border to resize a window. Is there ANY way (either internally, or with some add-on software) that will duplicate this feature on a Mac, rather than just by dragging the lower right corner? For me, this is absolutely the most frustrating shortcoming on my Mac, and I can’t believe the best computer in the world has this limitation.Comment by Matt Nikos 03.13.08 @ 11:12 AM
@Matt, glad we can be of help to you. File downloading is indeed an important topic. I think no less than 5 chunks of “litter” can be left around when you download a file on OS X. It is always confusing as to which ones are safe to throw away, which ones you move to your applications folder, and which one you put in your dock etc. I hope to cover this tonight.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.13.08 @ 1:08 PM
@Matt, I am not aware of any built in way to change window sizes other than with the bottom left resize area of a window.
It is not to say there are not third party tools to help you in this, but I am hesitant to share them as they can cause issues. I have no experience with the software listed below, so use at your own risk.
it is clearly a hack, it could very well be rock solid and reliable. If you do decide to use it, report your findings back here so other users may benefit.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.13.08 @ 1:12 PM
Great Site. I’ve been with MacOSX for some months now, but still I truely appreciate the way you make things look simple. Great tips about Safari (I had absolutely no idea about cmd+click in the title bar for hierarchical surfing !)
@Matt: For easy window resizing, it’s hard to beat Zooom, from CodeRage Software:
All the best,
Can you drag in a nested folder? I have a folder in Documents that I access several times a week. It would show up in the fourth column in Finder. Would I be able to drag that folder to the sidebar without messing anything up?Comment by Donna 03.28.08 @ 5:12 AM
@Donna, yes, you can drag in a nested folder, it will work fine, you will only have access to the top folder in the nest. If you want access to the fourth level folder, just drag that folder in.
Remember, you are not actually moving folders, just a representation of them, so feel free to test this out, there is nothing you will hurt by giving it a try.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.28.08 @ 7:08 AM
hi, great site! ..unfortunately I still don’t know how to risize the icons(if possible) and font size in a sidebar in leopard…?Comment by mat 04.14.08 @ 8:29 AM
@Mat, changing fonts and icon size can not currently be done in OS X 10.5 and less. There is a chance a software update will give us what is called resolution independence. More than likely, it will be a system 10.6 feature.
The developers have been given the tools to start preparing for it:
The old assumption that displays are 72dpi has been rendered obsolete by advances in display technology. Macs now ship with displays that sport native resolutions of 100dpi or better. Furthermore, the number of pixels per inch will continue to increase dramatically over the next few years. This will make displays crisper and smoother, but it also means that interfaces that are pixel-based will shrink to the point of being unusable. The solution is to remove the 72dpi assumption that has been the norm. In Leopard, the system will be able to draw user interface elements using a scale factor. This will let the user interface maintain the same physical size while gaining resolution and crispness from high dpi displays.
The introduction of resolution independence may mean that there is work that you’ll need to do in order to make your application look as good as possible. For modern Cocoa applications, most of the work will center around raster-based resources. For older applications that use QuickDraw, more work will be required to replace QuickDraw-based calls with Quartz ones.
It will take some time, but it is in the works.Comment by Scott Haneda 04.14.08 @ 6:27 PM
Hi Scott, thank you very much for your answer.
..and I do understand about the resolution and the icons…
but I was wandering if is possible at list to increase the font size in a sidebar as there is no problem to do so in mail and iphoto…?
@mat, as far as I know, the only way to change the size is to install the developer tools and play with the highly experimental resolution change app that Apple supplies. Or potentially there are more hidden hacks to preferences you can adjust, but I have not looked into it.Comment by Scott Haneda 04.15.08 @ 12:46 AM
The part where you wrote:
“Close off or resize the sidebar
…Click, hold, and drag, and not only can you resize the width; but you can also shrink it to the far left. This will completely remove the sidebar from that particular window.”
Is not true for 10.5(.2). Apparently it used to work in 10.4, and remembered it, however in 10.5 it’s just forced on at all times unless you strip the entire window of all toolbars (which is next to useless as the next time you open the window, it has everything, including the sidebar, turned back on).
You have this information filed under 10.5, thus why I thought I would mention that it sadly no longer works!
I’ve been searching for a way to eliminate the sidebar in certain project windows permanently, like in 10.4, but have yet to find a way to do it.Comment by Randall 05.08.08 @ 12:23 PM
@Randall, wow, you got me I had no idea they took the side bar removal feature away. Good catch, and thanks for pointing it out. Shame, it was a nice feature, as I rarely use the side bar. Lately, with spotlight and some other tools, I rarely use the Finder, so I guess that would be my excuse for not noticing this change.
Thanks again for pointing out my error.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.11.08 @ 3:13 AM
Stumbled across your excellent site whilst searching for the answer to a particular sidebar issue that I am having.
I am a freelance Graphic Designer, been working on Macs for, well for what seems eternity now… and I’m loving OS X.
I have a couple of huge Seagate hard drives linked by Firewire, these contain my work files and accounts etc. I have a few top level folders in Places on the sidebar as I frequently access them throughout the day/week/month etc, and find this instant access invaluable.
I have just started working in-house for a printing company one day a week and to enable me to keep up-to-date with my main clients whilst I am working away, I take one of my Seagate drives into their studio with me, so I can access my files if need be.
Returning home and plugging the drive back in all of my folders that I dragged into Places are now gone (not that I am surprised I guess as the place that they are linked to was removed).
What I would like to know is… is there any way to keep these links alive in the sidebar even when the original device has been removed, so that when I plug the drive back in again they relink?
Its not particularly difficult to drag the folders in again, but like anyone I hate doing repetitive stuff and as time goes on my favourite folders are increasing in number.
Would appreciate your help
AndyComment by Andy Larkin 05.15.08 @ 2:08 AM
@Andy, this is just a guess, I do not have a simple means to test this. Make a folder somewhere, put aliases to the folders on your removable drive in the folder.
Now, add those aliases to the Places sidebar. Since they did not officially move when you remove the drive, I would bet they stay. They of course will not work, but they should stay.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.15.08 @ 8:02 AM
Thanks Scott… I’ll give it a try and report back later!Comment by Andy Larkin 05.15.08 @ 8:08 AM
Sorry for the delay in responding… but thanks Scott, thats fixed it! Much appreciated
AndyComment by Andy Larkin 05.28.08 @ 1:45 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with Randall!
I am so disappointed that 10.5.3 has no way to remove the sidebar still leaving the great other function buttons.
And why doesn’t it stay in “lozenge” mode when you re-OPEN it???Comment by leesa 06.03.08 @ 12:17 PM
It’s probably not a reasonable request, since Leopard is virtually impossible to hack into with Haxies (however, Windowshade does work..Yay!!!) but, has anyone found a haxie that might work for removing the sidebar and leaving the function buttons?Comment by leesa 06.03.08 @ 12:23 PM
bounty for sidebar killer!
->>Steve, give us back our real-estate!
Anyone learning/finding a method to reduce the finder’s sidebar min width (10.5.2) please post!!!
Feature removal is really not appreciated.
Many thanks to the writers, maintainers, and posters of this column — keep up the excellent work!Comment by robn8r 06.08.08 @ 7:45 AM
@robn8r, I am not aware of any way, even with a hack. If we find anything out, we will be sure to post it.Comment by Scott Haneda 06.08.08 @ 7:36 PM
I agree with robn8r about the “real estate” issue. it’s very annoying that Mr. Jobs decided that if we want all the nice features and buttons at the top of the regular OS X window, then we have to have a full 1.5 inch removed from our real estate. Very selfish, Steve. Give us a friggin’ option!
I’ll add to that bounty to kill the new 10.5.3 sidebar!!!
And special thanx to Scott for being so diligent!
~leesaComment by leesa 06.17.08 @ 12:02 PM
I have a question I was hoping you could help me with. I just received a Mac at work, in a mostly PC environment. The IT guys here have not been able to figure out how to change the names of the servers I access on the sidebar, so they are currently listed as IP addresses and take a while to connect when I click on them. I access the same names of folders (ie. “marketing” “graphics”) etc on three different servers, and everything is very nested within other folders. I would love to be able to link each of these folders on my sidebar, but they replace each other since they have the same name and I can’t rename them without renaming the folder. So far the only shortcutting I can do is to make aliases of everything on my desktop.
@Trista, the names of a remote server in the sidebar, if it is not a Macintosh, will be determined by DNS.
If it is a Mac, it uses it’s computer name set in sharing. In your case, it is showing an IP. If it has a DNS name.
This is not something you can change, and may not be something your IT dept can change. You may have to work with who supplies those IP’s if they are not local non routable IP’s.Comment by Scott Haneda 07.08.08 @ 10:17 PM
I have a bunch of items in my Sidebar that I cannot get rid of – they were on the desktop and accidentally added to the sidebar. After trashing the items in the desktop (and emptying the trash), I am still stuck with the items in the sidebar. Every time I click on them to try to get rid of them, I get a pop-up that says “The volume for ‘[sidebar item name]‘ cannot be found”. Do you know how to get rid of these?
FYI – I upgraded my Tiger OS to Leopard a while ago. I had once found a filepath to edit the sidebar configuration file when I had Tiger, but I cannot find it with Leopard.
Thanks in advance for any insight you may have.
@Nirav, have you tried to drag them out and release them? They should “poof” away like in the video we put up in this post.Comment by Scott Haneda 07.29.08 @ 6:49 PM
I have some folders on a network disc, and have Alias’s on my desktop for these folders, I have also put them into my sidebar, works fine,
>>> BUT I have also done the same with network discs, I have an alias and put in my sidebar but when I restart it disapears.
I’ve done this as I have so many different network discs and also individual folders, it’s quicker to navigate with just Alias’s and the option to show “Connected Servers” on the desktop disabled. It did work for a while, but now it doesn’t.Comment by chris 08.21.08 @ 3:37 AM
Tiger allowed me to maintain a specific server directory in the sidebar — even after restarting the Mac it would appear. Now, with Leopard, if I want that server directory to show, I have to put it there EVERY time I start the Mac. Having only the top level of a server appear under “SHARED” it not useful. Who on earth uses the top level of a server? Isn’t there a way to make that directory ALWAYS appear like it did with Tiger?Comment by Gary 08.24.08 @ 9:22 AM
Question for everyone. I accidently removed my USB removable disk by draging it away from the Finder sidebar. My problem that I have right now is every time I want to open my USB key I of course plug it in and then normally after a couple of seconds it should normally appear in the Finder sidebar as an external image disk. My problem is it’s that it doesn’t appear anymore and I would like to reverse that. The only way I can go in it and access my data is by pressing Command+O (to open). Any suggestion!!!? Thanks a lot.Comment by Alex 09.22.08 @ 3:42 PM
@Alex, does the USB drive show up on your desktop, if so, just drag that back into the sidebar. You can also look in your Finder Preferences, in the sidebar preferences, and make sure that “External Discs” is checked.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.22.08 @ 5:23 PM
It’s working now…didn’t have to do anything which is weird, I must have a finger problem. Anyway thanks and good job with the website folks. Mac rules!Comment by Alex 09.22.08 @ 6:36 PM
My Finder windows no longer has a sidebar at all when I set it to open on “Documents.” In fact, they look like ordinary windows, without the view button set in the frame. I prefer column mode, but I’m missing my sidebar in any format unless I set the Finder preferences to open in my home directory, which isn’t the way I want it, or had it up until today.
What I get instead (in column mode) is a first column with the drives on my system with the main one selected, then a column where Users is selected (and not the the other items in the selected drive), then one where my home directory is selected, the next one has Documents selected, and finally, the contents. In icon mode it shows the documents directory, but still no sidebar. I wish I could send you a screen shot. What is going on, and how can I get my sidebar back and keep it back?Comment by Chrysan 10.12.08 @ 6:06 PM
@Chrysan, there is a small “chicklet” in the upper right of the Finder windows, click that, and it should toggle it from basic display, to one with a sidebar and top bar.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.12.08 @ 6:13 PM
>>Click, hold, and drag, and not only can you resize the width; but you can also shrink it to the far left. This will completely remove the sidebar from that particular window.
This does not work under 10.5 anymore, right? (
Any ideas how to get rid of the sidebar if you are not a fan of it?
RonaldComment by Ronald Vogel 11.24.08 @ 5:43 AM
@Vogel, correct, that does not work under 10.5, and we did not catch the error in the post. We need to update that, sorry. I believe there are comments in this post that do discuss it.
We will update the post, but I am not aware of a away to remove the sidebar, aside from clicking the “chicklet” in the upper right of a window. However, that removes all window functions, including the header search bar and such.Comment by Scott Haneda 11.24.08 @ 2:57 PM
How are you completely removing the finder’s sidebar? I drag it to the left (as you described) but it does not completely disappear. It stops about an inch from the edge.
Mac OS X 10.5.5Comment by George 11.27.08 @ 2:51 PM
Never mind, I see the answer in the comments.Comment by George 11.27.08 @ 2:53 PM
any answers for Chris and Gary above, I have the same network problem.
Comment by chris 08.21.08 @ 3:37
Comment by Gary 08.24.08 @ 9:22 am
@chris @gary @diana I am not sure I see the problem. I Just mounted a remote share volume on my desktop, I poked into it, dragged a folder from it to my sidebar, and was able to use the sidebar to access the remote volume.
I then unmonted the remote volume, clicked on the folder I made in the sidebar, and it mounted up the volume, taking me right to the contents of the remote share.
This also survived a reboot as well.
Can you explain in more detail just what it is that is not working for you, and what it is that the specific problem is?
I think maybe you are losing the icon in your sidebar, when the remote share goes away. If that is the case, I can not replicate it. I could suggest you mount the remote share, go into your accounts area of system preferences, and add the remote share as a login item. This will mount the remote share every time you login. With it mounted, it will always be there, and your sidebar links should always work.
You could also try using the actual folder to drag into your sidebar, and not an alias of a folder, perhaps that is the issue.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.14.09 @ 2:49 PM
I can do that with sub-folders.
The folder I am looking at has three stickman icon on it and the kind is ‘sharpoint’ On the server, it is a standard folder. This folder (and a few others) in OS X 10.4, was on the sidebar as a shortcut.
@diana, looks to me as though this is just how it is in 10.5. I can not get any share point to go into the sidebar. I would just drop some sub item of the share in there.Comment by Scott Haneda 02.15.09 @ 7:34 PM
I don’t have any sidebar at all…any idea? I updated the software today (10.5.7 leopard) and now finder has no sidebar. Any suggestions?Comment by Erick 06.14.09 @ 10:58 AM
@Erick, please see commend http://osxhelp.com/customizing-the-finder-sidebar-in-os-x/#comment-6270 aboveComment by Scott Haneda 06.14.09 @ 3:49 PM
Hi, Am having a funny issue with creating an alias to the Downloads folder in my home directory. If I try to drag the alias to the list of items in “Places” it changes it back to Downloads in the list of places and ignores the alias name I had given it.
The reason I wanted to do this was to create several similar names in the list of Places for the Downloads folders of several different computers.
What is so special about the name “Downloads” and why do aliases to it get treated so weirdly?
-BobComment by Bob 09.15.09 @ 8:19 AM
@Bob, this is a bit of a long story. Aliases are special in that no matter where you move them, they still connect back to the original. In a very simplistic explanation, the name you give an alias is purely cosmetic and only for your identification purposes.
An even worse explanation, but to illustrate a point… Say a file/folder sits on disc at position 48, and an alias points to the file/folder at position 48. If you rename the alias, it will still point to the file at position 48.
Assume position 48 is your Downloads folder. When you put the alias in your sidebar, it is resolved back to position 48, which then uncovers the real file/folder name.
At that point, the sidebar choses to use the destination file/folder name, and not that of the alias.
There may be a few ways to work around this that are a tad complicated and would need jumping into the terminal.
To answer your question, it is not the Downloads folder specifically, it is that the sidebar will resolve any alias back to the source, and use that name.
From what I understand, while confusing, this is expected behavior.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.15.09 @ 12:13 PM
I see what you mean – I tried another folder and created an alias to it and tried dragging it into the sidebar and the same thing happens. So there is nothing special about the Documents folder (although it does get it’s own special icon when in the sidebar). I tried a “symbolic link” and it does the same obnoxious thing, ie the name in the list of places is the name of the thing pointed to by the symbolic link, not the symbolic link name.
What are the ways to work around this – I don’t have a problem using the Terminal. If it’s too complicated to explain, can you point me to a URL that discusses the issue?
Thanks very much for your help!Comment by Bob 09.15.09 @ 3:31 PM
New users, please do not read this comment… Advanced suggestions below…
@Bob, yes, ln -s (symbolic link) is going to do the same, in OS X territory, they are nearly identical to a alias, sans a resource fork or two I suppose.
Look into hard links, read up on them closely, as they are an entirely new ball of wax, one that is treated different on OS X, allowing hard links to point to directories, which is not allowed on most OS’s. This is done for the core concept of how Time Machine works to allow you semi rotational backups.
Time Machine fails a little as 1 byte in a 100MB file still means moving 100MB – 1byte of data, but the theory is still the same.
A hard link should be seen as a totally independent file, solving your trouble, but be careful, learn what the columns in `ls` mean, so you know how many links there are to a source file.
This is well beyond the scope of this site Just do your research, and you should be fine.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.15.09 @ 4:35 PM
Thanks very much for your help. I found a site that has a tiny 10 line C program that does create links for folders and tried it out and it works fine. The same site listed all the limitations/restrictions of when you can and cannot or should not create these links to folders/directories. If people are curious about this check out the site by Amit Singh (author of “Mac OS X Internals” at http://www.osxbook.com/blog/2008/11/09/hfsdebug-40-and-new-hfs-features/ – the pertinent discussion is in the section titled “Directory Hard Links”
Thanks again for all your help.Comment by Bob 09.18.09 @ 11:54 AM
To show or hide both the sidebar and the toolbar, click the oval button in the upper-right corner of the window.Comment by Andrew 02.08.10 @ 4:00 PM
good day! i accidentally forced quit my finder and all my faulters are now gone. i cant open my finder app anymore. it keeps on saying that its not responding. i even restarted it but to no avail. It keeps on telling me the application FINDER cant be launched -600. pls help me with my problem. dont want to lose my important files. thank you so much.Comment by Lincs 04.05.10 @ 4:49 AM
I can’t believe I”m the first person to ask this question, but I recently got in trouble because my gf caught me looking at porn on my own computer. I am the administrator but I have a separate account for her. I found out how she caught me, the damn sidebar has the ‘recent history, recent photos, etc…” She has access to ALL my files! What’s up with that?!
Anyways, how do I disable this feature for multi users. I don’t care if they have the function on their account, but i certainly want my privacy for my own account.
It’s like having a peep hole in your bathroom, you can’t take a sh*t without any privacy!Comment by Kenny 04.06.10 @ 5:34 PM
Something is wrong with your account. Permissions of your account would not allow any files to be seen by another account. Especially is the other account is not an administrator account.
If you login to the her account, can you navigate to your user folder, and open any of the folders, such as Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Movies etc?
If you can, you have a permissions problem with your account. First I would try running repair permissions from Disk Utility. If that does not solve it, You will have to either set the permissions correctly to your account, or create a new admin account, and migrate your data over.
The permissions of every folder in your home folder, if you click once on the folder, and press command-I should be set to
everyone: No Access
If not, you will have to select each folder, and set the permissions correctly, and also set the “Apply to Enclosed Items” from the “Gear” icon.Comment by Scott Haneda 04.06.10 @ 8:02 PM
This is a wild guess, but generally a -600 error is that the system has too many processes open. It sounds to me like you have a hidden background application that is spawning many processes, and by the time the Finder starts to load, it is too late. Not enough processes left for it to load.
These are hard problems to troubleshoot. If you have a spare mac and they both have firewire, you can boot them into what is called FireWire Target Mode, which will allow you to get your data back.
Aside from that, if you are not a more advanced user, you are going to be stuck with backing up your data, and reformatting, then reinstalling. This is a relatively simple process.
Insert the DVD that came with your Mac, restart, and hold down the “C” key, this will launch you into the Mac OS X installer. From there, select from the menu’s disk utility. In disk utility, you can make a backup image of your main drive to a secondary backup device as a precaution.
Once that is done, quit Disk Utility, and run the normal archive and install, and you should be back up and running.
There is probably a very simple way to solve this without going through all this, though without having hands on access to the machine, it will be very hard to diagnose and get you in going in the right direction.
Sorry I could not be of more help.Comment by Scott Haneda 04.07.10 @ 10:27 PM
my “search for” folder is gone I already checked all “search for” folders for it to be visible again but nothing changed? I still can’t see the “today, yesterday, past weeks, all images. etc”Comment by Kath 05.23.10 @ 12:41 AM
I believe what has happened is you have clicked the small “chicklet” in the upper right corner of a Finder window in Mac OS X. If you click it once more, it will expand out the left sidebar that lists your folders, and the quick search options.
Here is a quick video I made that shows you the behavior in action, and what it looks like before, as well as after.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.23.10 @ 5:49 PM
Hi there, My side bar no longer has the computer name in it under places. I must of click it away from there by accident at some point.
is there any way I can get it back?
EmilyComment by emily 06.12.10 @ 4:03 AM
Look for this panel in the Finder Preferences. I bet you just need to check off the box next to your computer name.Comment by Scott Haneda 06.12.10 @ 12:37 PM
How can I make the Sidebar GO-AWAY for ever? I hate it . . . it takes up space and does not help my work flow. Even if I hide the sidebar for several folders, the sidebars always reappear after I repair permissions. What do I need to do to hide the Sidebar for EVER? Please advise.Comment by Bill 06.14.10 @ 7:42 PM
@Bill, About all I can suggest is to look into why you are needing to repair permissions. Permissions to files can not change by themselves, something has to be changing them.
This is usually caused by the user making changes to permissions, or an application that is made poorly changing permissions to your files.
If you watch the log window in the repair permissions area, what files are being noted as having incorrect permissions? My goal would be to find out what is changing those permissions. Once you do that, you can file a bug report with the developer of that applications, or stop using that applications.
Repair permissions is not some form of routine maintenance that should be done on any type of schedule. It is more something that should be reserved for when you are having problems. Even then, it may not be the best way. Repair permissions can only even alter files that have a receipt that instructs Repair Permissions as to what the permissions should be. Not all files and folders have a receipt, perhaps 5% of your files do.
The state of the sidebar is controlled by an invisible file stored in the folder itself named .DS_Store. You can’t see this file, because it’s name begins with a dot. I suspect that when you repair permissions, that .DS_Store file is being altered.
It is also possible it is coincidental, and that some other application or utility is modifying the .DS_Store file. There are several utilities that have been pegged as maintenance tools, which will clean out log files, repair permissions, hide files, show files, and make other alterations to the system. Most of these routines are not needed, and can cause more harm than good. Are you running any of these applications as part of your maintenance routine?
What happens that causes you to use Repair Permissions?Comment by Scott Haneda 06.14.10 @ 8:39 PM
Thanks for your response. There are many opinions on repair permissions and I respect your opinion. My question is if there is a way to change the Sidebar permanently – TURN IT OFF? If you know how to do this, please provide a procedure. Thank you.Comment by Bill 06.14.10 @ 9:43 PM
The problem with the repair permissions issue is that many people do think that what it does and how it works is a matter of opinion. I personally don’t believe that to be the case. From my own research, Apples own documentation, and other developers who I have worked with who know the internals of OS X very well, it is rather simple what repair permissions does, which is very little in reality.
To answer your question, is there a way to change the sidebar to permanently turn it off? Yes, absolutely, but there is no “checkbox” to do so. Setting the top most parent folder to have the sidebar turned off, should make all other windows spawned from it have no sidebar.
I have had my sidebar off since I updated installed 10.6 and it has remained that way for the most part. Sometimes I want to see the sidebar so I turn it on.
However, I also am aware that is not the answer you are looking for, as it will not solve your problem. This is why previously, I asked so many questions. Answers to those questions will be the only way I know to solve the problem you are experiencing.
Something, either Disk Utility, a maintenance app, application, or other tool is modifying, deleting, or otherwise altering the .DS_Store file which holds the preference to define the way a window is opened.
The only method I can think of to solve this would be to run a command that recursively goes to every folder on your hard drive, and sets the executable bit on the .DS_Store file to off. For folders that you have never visited, there will be no .DS_Store file, so a template one would have to be put in place, also with no execute rights.
That is a little heavy handed, and any future changes to your window probably would not stick, you have essentially locked the windows settings. I think it would be easier to find out what it is that is changing the value of your .DS_Store files, and either stop using that tool/app, or work with the developer/report a bug.Comment by Scott Haneda 06.16.10 @ 12:01 PM
I have a mac boo pro 13″ I like the finder feature but I have some questions about it. Well primarly one i think my roomate is useing my computer. I know that in finder you have the today yesterday and past week folders that store recent searches or history of documents applications opened. Is there any way that you can clear these items. I have cleared them once before by moving them to trash but then emptyed the trash and deleted programs. Not a good day. I have tried to clear recent items and the Cache but they do not clear what I am trying to clear. I just simply am trying to clear the history of the today folder. Any Suggestions. BTW best help so farComment by Bryan 08.10.10 @ 12:25 PM
The Finder items that performs searched for Today, Yesterday, and Past Week are looking for all files that meet a certain criteria, namely, does is the date of the file within the range of what you selected.
The only way to clear those items would be to either wait a day or week for the files to no longer match those criteria, and within that wait to not use your computer.
If you drag the items that are found to the trash, you will be deleting those files.
It is not a cache, it is a listing of files that match a search criteria. It is only a shortcut to predefined spotlight results. Aside from deleting the files, or changing the dates to the files, there is no way to clear that list.
The only sure fire way I know to clear those lists would be to not use your computer for a few days.Comment by Scott Haneda 08.10.10 @ 1:28 PM
In my Finder window, none of the “places” appear anymore. I have gone into sidebar preferences and several are selected under “devices” and “shared” yet none of them are visible in sidebar when the finder window is open. further, the items under “places” and “search for” are not selectable any longer. Any ideas on a fix? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.Comment by John 08.11.10 @ 8:04 AM
i should note, this is not a chicklet issue. the sidebar is there, just nothing shows up in it anymore.Comment by John 08.11.10 @ 8:05 AM
@John, the “Places” items in the sidebar are links to your Home, Desktop, Applications, and Documents. One way to control the items that show up in your Places list is the sidebar of the Finder is through the Finder Preferences menu.
Another way, is to simply drag and drop the items you want in the sidebar Places list in and out. You are not even limited to the predefined list, and any folder or file can be put in the sidebar list.
If you are missing Home, Desktop, Applications, and Documents, you can open your home folder and drag and drop those folder back into place.Comment by Scott Haneda 08.11.10 @ 9:37 AM
Scott – Thanks so much for the prompt reply. Unfortunately that fix does not work. I get the plus sign and it acts like it’s going to drop there, but when I release nothing is in the sidebar. I tried also to “add” items to the sidebar off the file menu and nothing sticks. Is there a way to fix it through a utility program of some sort? Thanks again for your help.Comment by John 08.11.10 @ 1:51 PM
@John, If you are seeing a “plus” symbol/icon, then I suspect your target for where you are dropping the icon is wrong. The plus icon will only show up when the item you are moving is going to be copied somewhere.
This leads me to believe that you are dragging and trying to drop the icon into another folder. When you see the plus icon, if you move the item down just a few pixels, you should see a horizontal line with a small ring hole to the left. This is when you want to release your mouse button.
Items in the sidebar are stored in a preference file located here: /Users/your-username/Library/Preferences/com.apple.sidebarlists.plist
You could delete that file, restart so the Finder reloads, and it should return you to a default state. If that doesn’t work, you can delete your entire set of FInder prefs, by also removing: /Users/your-username/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist
Remember to save backups in case you want to put the files back. The second preference listed above maintains many settings for the Finder, and will restore to default behavior of a new account by removing it and restarting your computer.
To restore these files, simply copy them back to their respective locations from a backup and restart your computer.
If add to sidebar from the Finder menu is not working, I believe this is then a permissions issue. You do not have the correct permissions to perform this action. Your only recourse in that case may very well be to delete the two above mentioned files. You could set the permissions, though that is outside the scope of what this site offers. The permissions should be user: you group: staff and the file mode is rw for owner, and nothing for group or other (-rw——-).
* You can also just restart the Finder; there is no need for a full system reboot, though some find it simpler to reboot than dig around and kill the Finder from the terminal.Comment by Scott Haneda 08.11.10 @ 2:46 PM
Hi, you mentioned that being able to resize font/icons in the Sidebar of Finder might be possible with the release of 10.6. Did this become a reality? Resolution Independence?Comment by Louis 09.19.10 @ 5:17 PM
@Louis, Sadly resolution independence did not officially make it into 10.6. However, if you install the developer tools, a free download from Apple, there is an application that allows you to control the resolution of the entire UI on screen.
This I am assuming was put in place so that developers could begin to test their applications under a resolution independence environment.
It works, but most applications, even Apples own applications, do not scale well. I suspect this is going to take at least one, if not two full releases of the OS to get full traction.
It may move a little faster, as the extremely high pixel rates of new mobile devices is changing the way that all developers consider the size of their UI elements and how they react on screen.
In the meantime, you can play with the app from Developer Tools, which can show you what may be coming down the pipes one day for us.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.20.10 @ 11:59 AM
As I read the comment by @Trista, I thought of a workaround solution. I came here looking for a way to rename Sidebar items for much the same reason. I didn’t think of making aliases. So that’s what I’ve decided to do, and I can rename the aliases to be meaningful without breaking the link to the network drive. However, rather than cluttering up my desktop (I try not to use the Desktop for anything.), I made a folder in my home named “Network Drives” and I added that folder to my Sidebar. It’s a very convenient solution.Comment by Lance E Sloan 10.06.10 @ 7:13 AM
I foolishly removed the section titles (I don’t know what else to call them) “Shared” and “Search For” from my finder sidebar.
“Devices” and “Place” remain.
How can I put the other two back?
Thanks for any help, Alexandra
I forgot to say that I am using Snow Leopard on a MacBook Pro.
[Edit: added in post from a second post and deleted the original post]Comment by alexandra 10.17.10 @ 9:30 PM
@alexandra, The “Shared” and “Search For“, “Places“, “Devices“, and a few others are the headers for items that will be contained within/underneath those headers.
If these items are empty, then the headers disappear. For example, if I drag away all the items in the “Places” area, that header will be gone until I add more back.
For “Places“, you should be able to drag and drop one of your folders from your home folder, like Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Applications, etc back to the sidebar and they will show up, bringing along with them the “Places” header.
There are other areas, like “Shared” and “Devices” for which you would have a harder time populating those lists. In those cases, and of course, the “Places” case as well, the fix is rather simple.
To restore your sidebar to default settings, from within the Finder, with a Finder window or two open, go to the Finder menu, and down to Preferences Click on the “Sidebar” tab at the top, and check off the items you want shown. This will get you started, get back your list headers for which you can then start to use drag and drop, or continue to manage them in the Finder Preferences area.
Finder Preferences window:
Changes are in real time/instant; as you check off an item in the Finder Preferences, you will see the Finder window update immediately. There should be no confusion as to whether or not it is working.
I hope that helps, if not, please write back and we will do what we can to continue to help you.Comment by hexley 10.17.10 @ 11:09 PM
I do as you say and then when I restart my machine everything I put in the sidebar vanishes and it get’s back to the default. For instance, I put on my sidebar folder the “pictures” “movies” folders.Comment by Jacob Demetirus 01.04.11 @ 6:40 PM
I can drag as many folders as I like from a shared disk to my sidebar, and they will persist there. Great! What I *can’t*, but really *want* to do is add a shared disk *itself*, which can sometimes be unmounted, to the sidebar. Any way around that one?Comment by Dave Abrahams 01.30.11 @ 10:38 AM
@Dave, there may be a chance that making an alias of the share, then putting that alias in your sidebar will work. You may have to hide away the alias, or you may be able to delete it. Not sure if this will work, but it is worth a shot.Comment by Scott Haneda 01.30.11 @ 4:58 PM
@Scott: thanks, but I already tried that, with aliases and with symlinks. No joy.Comment by Dave Abrahams 01.30.11 @ 6:34 PM
Is there a way to change the order of the categories “Devices” “Shared” and “Places”? I would like to have “Places” at the top…Comment by Mark 03.05.11 @ 9:07 PM
@Mark, yes, there is a way to change the sidebar values, from spelling, capitalization, and order. It is an advanced change, will more than likely need to be performed again after most system updates, and not something I would feel comfortable posting on a site that is targeted at beginners. There may be a method you can adapt hereComment by Scott Haneda 03.06.11 @ 1:34 AM
Instead of this:
“SD5″ = “Devices”;
“SD6″ = “Shared”;
“SD7″ = “Search for”;
“SD8″ = “Places”;
Would the following get “Places” to show first?
“SD5″ = “Places”;
“SD6″ = “Devices”;
“SD7″ = “Shared”;
“SD8″ = “Search for”;
(or do I have the syntax wrong)Comment by Mark 03.07.11 @ 10:07 AM
@Mark, looks good to me. The only issue I would confirm is that there would be two possible ways to make this change. One is the method you chose, which is to leave the name/id the same, and alter the value. The other would be to change the alter the value and name at the same time, reordering them.
For example, you currently list SD5 through SD8 in numerical order. There is a chance that the line order matters, in which case it may be something like SD8, SD6, SD5, SD7 or similar.
I am not certain, but wanted to point out the possibility. If I had to guess, I would have done it the same as you have. Just make sure you have a backup of the file, or notes that allow you to revert the file, and you should be fine.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.07.11 @ 9:04 PM
pls pls pls help! i moved a folder of current work to my “places” panel, but in the process ive accidentally deleted the file in which it originated from. now all i can see is an empty folder in places – which its now not letting me click on – is there any way of retrieving the work? if you have a file in places do you need to keep in in another file on your comp?Comment by bish 03.08.11 @ 11:53 AM
@bish, “Places” is merely a proxy or alias to another location. This means that anything you put into the “places” area, is not a real folder or file, but simply a pointer to another destination.
If the destination to which it points to has been moved, “places” is smart enough to know where it has been moved to and still follow that new location to the final destination.
If however, you have deleted the original files, there is no way to get those back aside from restoring from a backup.
The short answer to your final question is yes, if you have an item in “places” it will need to exist somewhere else, or it will be nothing more than a broken link to a set of files/folders that do not exist.Comment by Scott Haneda 03.09.11 @ 10:54 PM
to delete, you need to hold command when you drag items out of the sidebar. details guys detailsComment by mike 04.01.11 @ 3:58 PM
This sidebar issue is still alive in 10.6.7, that is, the only two ways to make the sidebar go away (completely) are either globally via the View Options menu in the Finder, or for a single window via the “chiclet” in the upper right corner of the of the window, which then makes the toolbar for the window disappear. There are many command line statements that allow for setting various Apple and system apps, but I don’t know of one for this. This shouldn’t even be necessary, although system coders might say otherwise. Personally, I think it really “scks.”
I am also mightily annoyed at the similar lack of a menu choice or even a “hack” to change the dock appearance. Yes, there are some choices, but transparency and/or color and border?Comment by ryeP 04.01.11 @ 9:56 PM
I can ADD items to the sidebar, but ca NOT remove them. They do not “poof” disappear when dragged/dropped to the desktop? Any suggestions are welcome…Comment by William 04.12.11 @ 2:58 AM
Hi everyone. I recently accidentally added a picture to my finder sidebar, but I didn’t want it there. It was an accident that it was pushed that far into my sidebar, and now I can’t seem to get rid of it. The move away and “poof” is doing nothing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!Comment by Haylee 04.27.11 @ 7:57 PM
i accidently put something!!!! NEED to delete it!!!Comment by jojo 05.09.11 @ 5:28 PM
i got it!! hold ‘ctrl’ and click on it. it will say “remove from sidebar, and click on it! :):):):):):)Comment by jojo 05.09.11 @ 5:30 PM
On Snow Leopard 10.6.7 I have to hold Command while dragging something out of the sidebar to make it vanish in a puff of smoke.Comment by Yan 05.11.11 @ 11:11 PM
Thank you very much Yan for answering the question with 10.6.7 in mind. Holding Command works just fine – cheersComment by Andrew 05.15.11 @ 9:44 AM
HOW DO YOU GET RID OF STUPID SIDEBAR THINGS. Somehow, two random pictures made their way to my sidebar. now they won’t get out.Comment by hannah 05.24.11 @ 3:09 PM
@hannah, please read the post, it is explained how you can remove items from the sidebar.Comment by Scott Haneda 05.24.11 @ 8:57 PM
Hi, erm, I have this question, where I was able resize the width of the sidebar in Tiger, to such a short width that only the icons were visible. however i cant seem to replicate that with snow leopard.
THEY WILL NOT REMOVE ??? they used to (if the link is not on the server any more)They will just stay there…
If there are items in the sidebar you do not want, just drag them out. In the usual animated poof, they will disappear. This is a non-destructive action, meaning that no items are deleted. Only the link or shortcut is deleted, your files and folders are safe.
I have a pfd file in my sidebar, under “Places” and it will not go away whether I drag it out of the sidebar or into the trash or anywhere else. How can I get rid of it?Comment by Alfred Sanford 07.22.11 @ 7:22 PM
I have just messed up my sidebar. I had 9000 images selected and hit COMMAND-T and it added all 9000 images to the sidebar. Now I am having to delete one at a time… Anyway to mass delete them from the sidebar?
SteveComment by Steve S. 07.28.11 @ 6:50 PM
Hi, I have recently bought myself the NEW macbook pro.. I accidently dragged a song onto my top toolbar on Finder and I want to delete it.. how do I do this?
It is also telling me i can’t shut down my mac because something in finder can’t close because it’s running.. there’s nothing downloading and i can’t seem to see anything unusual there… PLEASE HELP xxxComment by Georgina 09.01.11 @ 2:46 PM
Hi, I have unwanted files in my sidebar that will not delete. I read above that the files you do not want can be removed by dragging them out of the sidebar and then they “poof” away. This does not work for me. If I try to drag them out, they just bounce back. If I highlight them and press command delete, nothing happens. Some files in my sidebar won’t even highlight or open. What does this mean and how can I fix it? It’s driving me nuts!Comment by Kat 09.03.11 @ 1:18 PM
@Georgina Just do the opposite of what you did to put the audio file there, simply drag it off.
As for shutting down your Mac, it is more than likely that this sub process of QuickTime is playing. It is harmless, and a small bug that I am sure Apple will work out in time.
You should be able to force quit the offending application. Or, you can just force your machine to shut down with holding the power button down for a few seconds. Make sure you have saved al your work, and it is harmless.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.03.11 @ 1:27 PM
Re: Comment by Kat 09.03.11 @ 1:18pm
Never mind, I just found out how to do it from another forum. In the future for anyone else with the same problem, two things work: (1) hold down the command key and then click, drag it out of the sidebar, and release the unwanted item or (2) right click (or control+click) on the item and select “Remove from Sidebar” in the dropdown menu.
I have added some common folders to the places area of the sidebar which is a great tool. After a while, I deleted a folder from my machine that also was listed in places.
As the original folder no longer exists, it seems I cannot remove the folder in the sidebar… I can drag it away, but it automatically returns instantly. If I right click on the folder, then I only have the option to open the sidebar preferences (without an option to remove the folder)
Do you have any suggestions?Comment by Ger 09.07.11 @ 3:08 AM
Hi – I have a mcabook osx 10.6.8 — I customized my sidebar long ago and could poof things back out when I was done. That function seems to have stopped working. I can keep adding folders to the sidebar, but can’t get rid of the ones I no longer use.
Suggestions?Comment by Jenny 09.15.11 @ 8:41 AM
fyi – i just answered my own question above — and possibly GER’s above mine — the way to remove items from the sidebar is to press COMMAND and then drag them. Poof!Comment by Jenny 09.15.11 @ 9:13 AM
Hi: I accidentally dragged a downloaded music folder onto the places section on my finder sidebar and can’t get rid of it. I tried moving it into the trash but it didn’t work. I also tried clicking on move to trash and now it won’t let me “click” on it. Any help would be great! thank youComment by michelle 09.22.11 @ 6:58 PM
RE: never mind! I saw Kat’s comment and it worked.Comment by michelle 09.22.11 @ 7:00 PM
Friend borrowed my Mac, put some folders in “SHARED” – how do I move them onto HD? I tried to drag them into All Documents, to no avail.Comment by Dr. L 09.25.11 @ 3:21 PM
@Dr. L, if you can’t simply drag and drop the files in and out of the /Users/Shared directory, then there is something wrong with the file or Shared directories permissions.
If it really is called SHARED and not Shared then the rename could be part of the problem. I would start by running a permissions repair on your entire disk to see if that fixes it. You can do this with Disk Utility in your Utilities folder within your Applications folder.
If that also does not solve your troubles, you will have to run some terminal commands to learn what the underlying problems are.Comment by Scott Haneda 09.26.11 @ 11:41 PM
Hi Guys. Could anyone tell me how do I get back label headings on my sidebar in Finder? For example Instead of Devices I get SD5 and like wise when I right click I get a lot of N options! I dont know how these settings came about! Its driving me crazy! I use a MBP 2009 version. Any help much appreciated! Thanks!Comment by nau 10.01.11 @ 8:02 PM
@Nau, were you able to fix this issue? I’m having the same problem. Didn’t really do anything, except was playing around with Migration Assistant, and transferred over “Other Files and Folders” from my personal MBP to my work MBP. Now a bunch of my Finder and Sidebar labels are showing the code and not the actual name. IE: “Cut/Copy/Paste” now show up as “ME13/ME6/ME1″. I am aware of the LocalizableCore.String file to customize these labels, but I seemingly have a problem within my User prefs, that is not reading this file properly. Note, a second User account on my machine is fine. Help, please and thanks!!Comment by AK 10.03.11 @ 9:06 AM
@nau and @AK, if I had to guess, you either are modifying a system file that is something for advanced users, or there is some form of corruption that is going on. If you are in fact modifying file deep in the system, that is an advanced feature that should be discussed on a site for more advanced users.
If you are having trouble as a result of corruption, I would read through this article,which will explain what is happening, how you can customize the labels on your sidebar, and in your cases, how to restore things back to the way they are by default.Comment by hexley 10.09.11 @ 5:41 PM
Hi! Hexley. Thanks for your feedback, unfortunately I am still stuck. All the resources I went through online suggest renaming labels on sidebar from upper to lower case. But none have suggested how I can regain my sidebar labels.
@AK. I’ll continue to look & if I find a solution I’ll post it here. I am considering making a clean install of my system if I don’t find a solution.
@Nau, you need to restore LocalizableCore.Strings from a clean source. This file is inside the Finder.app though. A clean install will fix it, or you could probably find online what the contents of that file should be for your OS version.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.10.11 @ 1:30 PM
@Scott, it doesn’t quite make sense to me that the LocalizableCore.Strings file is the source of the problem. This file exists in the System folder, thus my understanding is that it is accessed by all User accounts setup on the Mac. However, as mentioned, a second User account that already exists on my machine is fine, thus suggesting that the LocalizableCore.Strings file is okay.
@Hexley – to further clarify – I was not trying to make any modifications. It was after running the Migration Assistant, that I noticed the Finder and Sidebar command names became messed up. I know that a bandaid solution would be to just create a new User and start fresh from there – however I am trying to avoid that. I believe that nau and I are in the same boat here. If you ask me, a clean install of system and all my apps and settings is not a solution, but a work around – and a labour/time intensive one at that.
My best guess is that each individual User account’s preferences has a pointer file to the LocalizableCore.Strings code. And it is this pointer file that is corrupted on my main user account, but intact in my secondary user account. Any insight into what file this might be?Comment by AK 10.10.11 @ 2:01 PM
@AK, can you try something, it’s a can be a bit off-putting, but easy enough to restore the changes.
In the bad account, rename the directory of ~/Library/Preferences to ~/Library/Preferences.old, make a new directory called Preferences, log out, and log back into the same account.
It is important to not try to move the files inside of your Preferences directory by hand, but to rename the directories; moving the files will not generally move the invisible files you can’t get ahold of in the Finder.
Your mac will look pretty near what it does when you create a new account. See if the menus are repaired. If they are, then look in the new Preferences folder, which will be rather sparse on number of files compared to your old one. It will be one of those files that is causing your issues.
Resist any urge to adjust mouse settings or other Preferences, we are trying to specifically avoid the creation of new Prefs files other than what are required to load the Finder into user space.
I will then generally take the small batch of files, copy them into the Preferences.old directory, rename the current Preferences folder to Preferences.apple and rename the Preferences.old back to Preferences.
Log out, log back in, and you should be good to go. Clean up the folders we made as temporary working areas.
If the problem comes back, then it is one of the few invisible files in Preferences, in which case, you can post back here and I will tell you which one it more than likely is.
If that doesn’t do it, since you do still have a working account when you make new accounts, I would repeat the above steps but with the Application Support directory in the Library directory. Of course, do so after restoring the Preferences directories. I think it would be unlikely that the two of them correlate to this issue.
* All of these suggestions are in reference to files in your home folder, NOT the ones in /System or /Library are the top of your hard drive.
P.S. hexley is scott and Scott is hexleyComment by Scott Haneda 10.10.11 @ 5:34 PM
@Scott, thanks for your help on this. One question – probably something simple – but how do I actually change the name of the folder? Clicking on the folder name doesn’t work, as it normally would with a regular folder or file.Comment by AK 10.10.11 @ 6:17 PM
@AK, you know, that’s a good question. I just spent a while looking for a solid app that would allow you to edit the extended attributes of the folder and change the name, but there is nothing that I feel safe recommending.
Apple has locked this folder off from being renamed, as doing so can generally break things pretty bad.
Since there is no graphical app that I can find to suggest that would allow you to rename the folder, I don’t quite know what to suggest.
I am hesitant to give you terminal commands that would alter the extended attributes, which we would then restore, as this is getting way beyond the scope of this site.
You could also change the name of the folder in the terminal, thereby skipping the need to alter the extended attributes. That get’s the terminal commands down to very simple and basic ones, but I still am not comfortable suggesting that on this site.
If you are feeling brave, you can always google how to rename folders using the terminal. You will need to do so with super user permissions in this case.
For now, we could try to work around it in a less ideal way. Make a new folder on your desktop called “possible corrupt prefs” and open your Preferences folder. Select everything and move them to the folder we made on the Desktop.
Some will move and some will probably copy. That is fine. Now, delete everything from the Preferences folder.
Log out of your account, and log back in.
* I would keep a known working test user account on your machine as an admin user in case something goes wrong. you can always log into that account and fix things from there.
Once you are logged back in, you will see your computer has defaulted to looking like a new user account. Hopefully your problem has gone away. The files that are in the Preferences folder now represent one or more files that are in the “possible corrupt prefs” folder that are bad.
From this point, restore everything to how it was, so you delete everything out of the current Prefs folder, move everything back from the “possible corrupt prefs” folder, log out, and log back in. Your problem will be back, btu you have a list of files that are potential targets to start deleting, logging out, logging in, and testing if your problem is fixed.
This method works identical to my other suggestion, however, it is more work, and will not move invisible files in the Prefs folder. More than likely it is an invisible file that is causing you these troubles.
You can give it a try and see if it works though. One thought is to create a new user account, log into that account, look in the Prefs folder, and take note of the files in that Prefs folder on the new account. That is the same list of files that you will get by performing the steps listed above. You can then move out just those files form your misbehaving account, log out, log in, and see if it solved the problem.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.11.11 @ 4:10 PM
@Scott – so here’s my progress (or lack thereof)…
Before I got your last post, I was able to change the Preferences folder name and do the test that way, with the help of a work colleague, using the Terminal. Did exactly as you asked – while logged in as the corrupt User, I change that User’s Preferences folder to Preferences.old. A new Preferences folder was seemingly auto-generated. I logged out and attempted to log back in. However, the computer just hung on the login background, but never resolved to the desktop.
I was able to reverse what I did through my secondary User, going through the Terminal again to change the folder names.
Before I could report on this progress, I received your posting – so then proceeded to try out your first suggestion, ie: create a folder on the desktop called “Possible corrupt prefs” and move the contents of the Preferences folder there. A total of 497 items. It actually copied everything over, no items were physically moved. I then deleted the contents of the original Preferences folder, logged out, logged back in – SAME PROBLEM. Desktop would not load.
Here’s where the fun began. I tried to reverse this process, by moving the contents or even the entire “Possibe corrupt prefs” folder back into the corrupt User’s Library folder (through my secondary user account). Note that I had to adjust the Sharing & Permissions for the Library folder in order to gain access into it (despite my second user being an Admin).
PROBLEMS – the contents and/or folder would not copy over in its entirety. Only 331 of the 497 files would transfer. And regardless of what I tried, my main User account was pooched. I was not able to login and restore the desktop.
This morning, I restored my computer from my Time Machine backup. Now I’m stuck today trying to get my Microsoft Office database back up and running.
And of course, my Finder problem is still there.
Not sure what to try next.
NOTE – I did create a new user account and write down all the original Prefs. This list of preferences does not match what appeared in the new Preferences folder that ended up within my main User after my initial failed test (using Terminal).Comment by AK 10.12.11 @ 9:55 AM
Hi! Guys. Looks like you’ve all been busy burning the midnight oil! Me on the other hand remained a lazy dude and opted the easy way out! I got fed up trying look for a solution online so I went and bought the OS X lion Thumb drive, upgraded my system…. presto! problem gone! Phew! It was driving me nuts! But one small issue still persists; My Skype (the new versions from 5.0 onwards) doesn’t open at all and I keep getting message: Skype Quit Unexpectedly. Older version such as 2.8 worlds perfectly well. My upgrade to Lion hasn’t solved this issue. I think while updating Snow Leopard(well before Lion) my system must have got corrupted somehow(I don’t know how, but I must confess my 8 months old baby took a fancy to banging on my keyboard when laptop is on, maybe she pressed some random corrupt sequence in my system). I have googled and some folks have suggested deleting plist & so on. But I can’t find a damn plist! Some have suggested I find & delete:
But I can’t find those file inspire of looking for the in the respective folders!
Here is the url:
I don’t what I am missing here! I know I sound dumb! I am not a technical person at all! Help!!!
@nau, Current versions of Skype are known to be very problematic on Mac OS X. I imagine an update will come out to fix it, but I also know some many people that are unhappy with the newer versions they have reverted to several version back in order to get stability.
I don’t believe this has anything to do with your computer.
Glad you decided to start new, I am sure in the long run you will be much happier with your computer and how it performs.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.20.11 @ 5:18 PM
@Scott, Any other suggestions? Did I miss anything?Comment by AK 10.20.11 @ 8:09 PM
Any regular OS X Help readers please ignore the comments between @AK and @nau, they are not meant to be part of our normal level of support and help. I consider these comments for advanced users. Please disregard them.
Ahh @AK, sorry about that, I forget that there are two people int his comment section that have very similar problems.
Starting with permissions – Yes, even if you have an admin account, you will still have to modify the permissions. Levels of permissions are something along the lines of system users, users, admin users, and root user. The root user is the only user who can do anything without being pestered.
Since you managed to get most of everything back to normal, albeit with the mention of some of the issues you have had, it’s hard to say without having my hands on the machine.
While I don’t do that much of it anymore, I used to spend day in and day out fixing Macs. 20′s of them a day, and the steps in which I would move aside the prefs folder is something I would do to almost any machine that was have troubles that I didn’t know how to solve already.
Machines that behave like yours would get a full re-install treatment, as there is really no way to know what is going on without spending more time on the machine than the client would ever want to pay.
Myself, I have been known to be stubborn, and spend 10+ hours on my machine, and re-install and re-build a system 10x over until I do learn what the trouble was. Most are not willing to take it that far.
My first guess is that since you adjusted the permissions for the ~/Library folder, that could be hanging something up. I would have advised against that. You need to get those restored. Not only the permissions, but the ACL as well. Since you restored your data from a backup, and I would assume to a new account, the Library directory should have the correct permissions and ACL’s.
Something very close to this:
drwx——+ 66 username staff 2244 Oct 15 20:23 Library
0: user:_spotlight allow list,search,file_inherit,directory_inherit,only_inherit
1: group:everyone deny delete
When you restore your system, something is getting copied over that is causing your menu’s to misbehave. If I had to take a guess, I would delete these two files from the Preferences folder:
They will be invisible, and you will need to do so in the terminal
If you were so inclined, you could perform these steps to do so:
mv ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist ~/Desktop/dotfiles
mv ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist.lockfile ~/Desktop/dotfiles
Restart your machine
The above two files will be recreated eventually. You will lose some settings like window positions, list versus column view, pretty cosmetic stuff, nothing major at all.
What specifically is wrong with your Office Database? I take it you are using Entourage? If you aren’t using Entourage, what is in the Office Database that you need to keep? Can’t you just move it out of the way, let office re-create it, and be on your way? That’s actually how I would start anyway, move the entire Microsoft Office folder out of the way, launch an Office app, this will recreate their all the folders you just moved out of the way. Then, go grab one of the folders from the files you moved aside, and replace those of the new ones Microaoft made. Of course, make sure app Microsoft apps are quit. Launch a Microsoft app, and see if it works. If it does, move on to the next file/folder until you have found the one that is causing trouble.Comment by Scott Haneda 10.21.11 @ 2:03 AM
I can not seem to get things to delete from the sidebar. I tried dragging them off the sidebar to the right (as in your video) and to the left (desktop), but alas, no “poof.” It just bounces right back in place. I am trying to delete a single file from “places” area and multiple “smart folders” from the “search for” area. Is there something to unlock?Comment by TC 12.05.11 @ 11:06 AM
@TC, if your operating system is not Snow Leopard, you may have to use an alternate method. Try holding the control key on your keyboard and clicking on the item in question.
Hopefully a contextual menu item will pop up and one of the selections will be “delete” or “remove”.
I believe if you read a few of the replies above — in the comments to this very blog post — another user also comes to the same conclusion.
– ScottComment by Scott Haneda 12.05.11 @ 4:37 PM
Wow, you guys are fast! Thanks! My OS X is version 10.6.8, and I think it’s Lion. Although the CONTROL key did pop up a menu, for the individual file the only item on the menu was “open sidebar preferences…” (which I had already tried and could not find a way to get rid of the files). BUT – I took your idea and ran with it. I held down the COMMAND button, and was able to drag the file off, and even got to see and hear the “poof.” I am grateful.Comment by TC 12.05.11 @ 5:48 PM
@TC, If you believe you are on Mac OS X Lion, and current on software updates, then you’re version would be Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2.
I’m very glad you were able to solve your problem. I’m usually able to supply more accurately, however, I was limited in reply via a mobile device — somewhat restricting my research that leads to more aggravating copy and paste routines.
If you search the Mac OS X Help site via the search input field near the right upper area of the site — keying in “About This Mac” — I believe there is an entire post on how to gather troubleshooting and diagnostic information about your specific computer.
A result of serious health issues related to my in-laws — we haven’t been able to progress the site with new content beyond trying our best to continue to answer all incoming comments. I hope to solve this gracefully somehow in the near future. This will benefit users by pushing the site in a generalized direction; focussing on all Apple products and services — not just the currently released operating system.
I’m pleased you were able to troubleshoot my snippet of a hint and adapt it to meet the requirements of your version of Mac OS X.
Good luck in the future; always remember — curiosity will educate you, while fear will only hold back your educational progression of computer use. Yes; you may break something in rare cases — more technically mis-configure — but that’s why we’re here — to help you back out of that rabbit hole.
I know you posted this in 2008 but I just had the same problem and in order to get rid of a damaged alias folder in the sidebar, you have to click command and then drag the folder onto your desktop. I think it has to do with the fact that the alias is broken because when the alias is not broken you can simply just drag the folder onto your desktop without clicking command. Hope this helps.
I realize this is an old post, but wow, what a conversation. I was just curious if you’ve ever run across a way to keep the sidebar from accepting files (meaning I just want folders, and am sick of accidentally dropping files between folders in the sidebar).?Comment by Dex 02.21.12 @ 2:12 AM
With Tiger I could indeed close off the sidebar but I don’t seem to be able to do it in Leopard (on a pcc)
I agree with you on the file in the sidebar thing, and I can’t tell you HOW MUCH I wish there was a way to configure the sidebar to simply reject them when I accidentally drop them in between folder icons instead of on one of them. ARG! Classic case of Mac “knowing better than you” how you want to run things. They hate folders and take a view of them as files like any other file from my estimation. ARG!Comment by Dex 04.11.12 @ 5:49 AM