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  1. #1


    Member Since
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    5
    Specs:
    laptop: iBook G4, desktop: mini G4
    "invisible" files
    I'm running OS 10.4.10 on my ibook and I just noticed something weird. When I go to change my background picture, I wanted to use a jpg that was on my desktop. The choices that are given to me include some pictures that were deleted from my computer a long time ago. Why do these show up? I'm certainly not given the choice of every picture that was ever on my desktop. And how do I really get rid of these files?

  2. #2

    iLindzo's Avatar
    Member Since
    Nov 01, 2007
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    387
    Specs:
    15" MBP w/Intel Core 2 Duo w/Lion, MBA w/Lion, 80GB iPod Video, 32GB iPhone 4, Two 32GB iPads
    if you happen to remember the file names, you can do a search in Spotlight and see if the files are "hiding" somewhere on your computer. =?
    Mac users swear by their computers. PC users swear at their computers.

  3. #3
    MacHeadCase
    Guest
    Welcome to Mac-Forums, Chx10.

    You should drag the images you want to use as a desktop into the Library. That's where OS X first looks for them. At least, that's what I do: I figure OS X knows more about its own needs than I could.

    Also, it might simply be a system cache thing that hasn't been emptied for a while.

  4. #4


    Member Since
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    5
    Specs:
    laptop: iBook G4, desktop: mini G4
    Well when you choose a picture it displays the name in the system preferences window. When I try to search for that file name in spotlight or find, nothing comes up. I'm wondering if its tagged as invisible for some reason and I don't know how to search for those files. And how would I manually empty the cache if that's what's going on?

  5. #5
    MacHeadCase
    Guest
    One thing is to boot into Safe Boot mode once in a while, log in your account and restart. And you can download a utility like MainMenu (google will take you to Santa Software) and use the Clean function to clear out the various caches.

    If you cannot find files on a wider scale, I am wondering if your hard drive indexing is turned on or not. Through MainMenu, you can force a reindexing of your hard drive in the Rebuild section.

  6. #6


    Member Since
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    5
    Specs:
    laptop: iBook G4, desktop: mini G4
    Ok, so I'm learning a bit more about this problem. Evidently my problem is that these files I have but can't find have a name that begins with a period. I guess this makes them invisible? Any ideas on how to get to them to delete them?

  7. #7

    Neo's Avatar
    Member Since
    Aug 14, 2007
    Posts
    557
    Specs:
    white MB 2.16GHz 3GB 320GB 10.6.1
    I have seen this too, and don't know quite what to make of it. Because of their similarity to .Trashes and .DS_Store hidden files, I've assumed these were Trashed files that hadn't been deleted (emptied from the Trash). Are the phantom files still there if you empty the trash (Shift + Command + Delete)?

    But MacHeadCase didn't say anything about that. And you have searched for the files...Finder usually finds files in the Trash if they've not been deleted.

    Basically, this is a post to say "I don't know, but interested to see what the experts have to say" (indexing? system cache? I never knew).

  8. #8
    MacHeadCase
    Guest
    Chx10 you are correct: in the Unix file system, a file's name that begins with a period is indeed a hidden or invisible file.

    And a definition of a .DS_Store file:

    .DS_Store (Desktop Services Store) is a hidden file created by Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X operating system to store custom attributes of a folder such as the position of icons or the choice of a background image. By default, Mac OS X will create a .DS_Store file in every folder that it accesses, even folders on remote systems (for example, folders shared over a SMB or AFP connection) and even if the user has only customized the appearance of the folder by moving its Finder window. This is in contrast to the preexisting system for the same purpose used in previous versions of the Finder, which would merely place a number of invisible files at the root of the volume being accessed (even on alien filesystems), always storing the settings and metadata for all of the folders in the entire volume within this single set of files.

    After complaints from users about these files being created on remote systems, Apple posted an article on their support site telling users how they can disable the creation of remote .DS_Store files over network connections.

    Although these files were initially primarily used by the Finder they were envisioned as a more general purpose store of metadata about the display options of folders such as icon position and view settings. For example, since Mac OS X Tiger (10.4), .DS_Store files contain the Spotlight Comments of all the folder's files.

    Earlier versions stored user sensitive information which was easily uploaded via FTP to websites (the files by default not visible to the user but accessible by the FTP client) where the exposure of this data could lead to security exploits. This data has since been removed.

    In Mac OS X 10.5, .DS_Store files are now invisible on the Windows filesystem.
    For more info and references, click on the provided link above.

    Apple's Knowledge Base Article on Mac OS X 10.4: How to prevent .DS_Store file creation over network connections.

    As for finding files that are invisible, you need to add that criteria in Spotlight's search settings (where you see the + sign).

    And I persist in thinking that clearing the caches might solve these phantom files you see.

  9. #9


    Member Since
    Nov 17, 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    5
    Specs:
    laptop: iBook G4, desktop: mini G4
    Problem solved! I had run the MainMenu before and cleared the caches, but that didn't do the trick. When I went back into the MainMenu program though, I found that I could choose the option to show invisible files and then those files popped up on my desktop. Simple drag to the trash from there.

    Of course I went back and did a "hide invisibles" after that so I never accidentally delete something important.

    Thanks for the advice, especially the MainMenu program. Not only did that program help me find those files, but clearing the caches also help to free up about half a gigabyte of space on my hard drive.

  10. #10
    MacHeadCase
    Guest
    Cool! Remember to restart after cleaning out the caches. Glad your problem is solved!

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