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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.


User Folder Follies

March 24, 2004

Panther is great. Some of its Finder features are a big improvement over previous Finders, especially the Sidebar in the Finder. Having said that, the Sidebar creates a potentially dangerous point-of-confusion for users who are either less than attentive (many) or complete OS X novices.

The problem comes in that the Sidebar can seem like just another column when you are in column view. A user was having troubles with finding his "Home" folder. I was helping him over the phone— we were trying to find something in his home folder (in his Library, actually). He didn't see any icons that looked like a little house. Even though I had put his home folder in the dock, he must have removed it at some point (another peeve of mine, no confirmation on removing something from the Dock). So, we went the manual route: "double-click on your hard drive on the desktop, click on the column view icon, click on Users, bang, there it is."

After we got done what we needed to get done, I decided that we needed to put his home folder back in the Sidebar. So I asked him to get back to where he could see the home folder icon. I told him to drag it into the leftmost column in the Finder window and put it in the lower half. He confirmed that he did this, and we hung up.

2 hours later I got a frantic phone call that his computer was dead (brand new G5). He got a solid blue screen on boot except the menu bar at the top blinked on and off. Uh oh. Because it was already late in the day, we picked up the computer from him. After 2 minutes in Single User Mode I realized that he had not put his home folder in the Sidebar. Instead, he had moved it up to the root level of his hard drive. Suddenly, I felt very stupid. This was my fault. During our phone call he must have collapsed the toolbars in the Finder by clicking the little white lozenge in the upper right corner of the window. So when I asked him to move his home folder to the Sidebar, he had nowhere to put it except the leftmost column, which must have been the top level of his hard drive.

Two quick mv commands later, and he was back in business.

The computer proved to have other troubles which required a reinstall of Panther, but these we unrelated to the home folder (and were what we were chasing down in the first place).