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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Finding Missing Desktop Items

July 9, 2009

For a few weeks my dad had been complaining about odd things happening on his computer. Some things were missing, downloads weren't findable, and he was getting a few odd error messages. He was also having problems opening some Quicken files, which is what prompted me to take action. He uses Mac OS X 10.4.x.

In the case of the Quicken file, when you tried to open it, it would prompt for the password, which we absolutely knew we had correct, then give an error about not having permission to view the file. It was NOT rejecting the password, just refusing to let us in. This was puzzling. Before I went off to restore from backup, I started poking around. A behavior that tipped me off to the problem was his not being able to download/read PDF files. I tried this, and after downloading a PDF, which should have gone onto the desktop, I still couldn't find it. I figured that maybe his download folder had gotten set to some other folder, but upon checking that, it was definitely pointed at the desktop.

Thinking disk corruption, I decided to take a quick look at the directory from the terminal before rebooting and running Disk Repair. I su'd to root (bad habit, I admit, but things would have gotten stranger had I not in this case) cd'd into the Desktop folder ( cd ~/Desktop ); it was a good thing that I use ls -la by habit (list files, long attributes, show hidden). I noticed that the permissions on the Desktop folder were d-wxr-xr--. Woah, how did his account, the owner, not have read access to his own Desktop folder, yet still had write access? I quickly changed permissions ( chmod 755 . ) and in an instant dozens of lost files appeared on his desktop.

Wrapping up, I rebooted from the OS X CD and ran Disk Utility, doing first a Disk Repair, then a Repair Permissions. No other trouble seemed to crop up, but it's good to do this after weirdness, just in case.