11 Replies Latest reply: Nov 25, 2012 2:08 PM by Conor McGee
nicschlanger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I had a very cluttered desktop that I cleaned up by putting all my files into a single folder, on the desktop.

After some period of time I needed to retrieve something in that folder to find that almost everything within that folder had inexplicably become shortcuts (aliases).

It seems that all of that information is now permanently lost, because all of the files are mere kilobytes in size.

There is some more weirdness though:
SOME of the files remained normal AND became shortcuts
SOME files did not become shortcuts at all
Nothing seems to have happened since whatever event caused this.

I lost original copies of certain things. I'm not exactly devastated but I'd like to know how this happened so it doesn't again in the future. Has this happened to anyone else?

Also, but unrelated, the same thing happened on my dashboard with my stickynote widget. I never thought stickynotes on the dashboard would be permanent or anything, but again only SOME of them were affected, and again I lost some irreplaceable data.

I am the only person that uses this computer. Anyone else that ever touches it does so under my supervision.

macbook pro late early 2010, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • 1. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 Level 9 (67,515 points)
    Hi,

    Welcome to the    Discussions


    You seem to be presuming that they were not Aliases in the first place.
    You could have had both on your Desktop which is why the "cleaning up" now has the Original and an Alias.

    Having said that if you chose "Make Alias" from the File Menu or the Right Click Contextual menu that pops up then the "new" item normally has the word alias (lower case) added the the file name.
    That in itself can actually be removed (if the Original is not in the same window - consider the Desktop as one big window in this case)

    I would start with Spotlight and search for the files by Name and see if any of them are in fact somewhere else.

    I have some .gifs on my Desktop and they are only a few kbs in size.
    Some things are obviously a lot bigger.

    What sort of files are we talking about ?

    A Modifier Keys (ALT) will do different things rather than just move.
    It will copy a File to the new location.

    Was this a New Folder that you created just for this purpose ?
    Did you add any Folder Actions to it ?
    Did you create Smart Folder by any chance ? (I never have but I am exploring possibles)

    It's a long times since I used Stickies itself let alone the Dashboard version.
    I don't think I can even guess with that one.



    8:50 PM Tuesday; March 1, 2011
  • 2. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    nicschlanger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am not presuming that the files were aliases in the first place.
    What has happened would not be a problem if the files in this folder were copies to begin with.

    They were ORIGINAL files. I have searched with spotlight and the aliases are the only occurrences on my hard drive. The originals simply disappeared.

    Some of these files were saved to the desktop from the internet, while others were intentionally saved onto the desktop from other programs for easy access.
  • 3. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 Level 9 (67,515 points)
    Hi,

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    I did think you meant that the files had been altered but thought the fact they could be Aliases would have explained it.

    I tend to work in a similar fashion in that occasionally I grab/drag something from the internet/Web Browser to the desktop and also use Screen Grabs a lot.

    Like you I also "tidy" them into Folders now and then.

    I have been using OS X since 10.2 (The version that came with my G4/1Ghz Dual Mirrored Doors)
    I can not think of any instance where a similar thing has happened to me.

    I also cannot think what might have happened to explain it either.

    Do you have a back up/Time Machine Copy ?
    You could use this to check the Desktop before the Tidy and Restore them.

    Maybe someone else has some ideas.



    7:54 PM Wednesday; March 2, 2011
  • 4. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    nicschlanger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I've thought of using the time machine, but by the time I realized it had happened I had no idea when this actually occurred. Moving back to another time, even with backing up new software and other new data would be absurd. I've already gotten beyond losing what was in the folder. What I want to know is what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

    Thanks, though.

    Message was edited by: nicschlanger
  • 5. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 Level 9 (67,515 points)
    Hi,

    Part of my thinking would be that the Move to a Folder could then be repeatable - which in turn might offer clues as to what is happening.

    If you launch Time Machine when at the Desktop then Time Machine should scroll back to when it was different (this might be past dates where changes are made to other folders/Files).

    I have no other thoughts on this.



    7:02 PM Thursday; March 3, 2011
  • 6. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    jsd2 Level 5 Level 5 (6,200 points)
    Hi,

    Every file has a set of "metadata attributes" that influences how the system is going to treat that file, and one of these attributes is the "alias bit." If the "alias bit" on a file is set, then the Finder will display its icon with a curved arrow and will display it as kind:alias in Get info, even if the file itself is not really an alias.

    Occasionally, a normal file will have its "alias bit" mistakenly set due to a system glitch, and if that is all that is wrong, the file can be "fixed" just by re-setting that attribute. In your case, though, it sounds as if the file sizes were not preserved, and if so, then they won't be fixable this way. But if you do have any files that still seem the right size except that they now seem to be aliases, you could try to clear their "alias bit" and see if that will restore them.

    There are a few ways to try this, but a user-friendly method is to download and run the utility [File Matey|http://www.riotgames.se/riotgames-se/filematey.html].

    File Matey should open into a "Choose an object" dialog window; if not use File Menu>Get Info. Navigate to one of the "alias" files and click Choose. In the next window that opens, look at the "Alias" checkbox in the General tab. If it is checked, uncheck it and click Apply.
    .

    .
    Then quit File Matey and try to open the file.
  • 7. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 Level 9 (67,515 points)
    Hi jsd2,

    That looks useful.

    Some questions for myself.
    Does this mean that the files that were on the Desktop could have already been "aliased" but not show the name tag or the Alias Arrow on the icon - but moving them got the system to add the Alias arrow indicator ?

    The original posts implies they were alright.
    It does not say how long they had been on the Desktop Or when last Opened.
    The "Tidying" meant that it was also some more time before any were looked at again.

    Again the posts seems to me to indicate the Icon is the clue to it being an alias rather than any name it may have (hence my note that part could be removed).

    Just trying to get it straight in my own head.



    9:03 PM Thursday; March 3, 2011
  • 8. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    jsd2 Level 5 Level 5 (6,200 points)
    I don't know what happened. It may be that the files were changed before the move, though the OP didn't seem to think so. The move itself may have somehow damaged them. In either case, there seem to be a few possibilities as to the current situation:

    1) At least some of the present items still are the originals, except that they now look and behave like orphaned aliases because the alias bit has become set. In this situation the original filesizes would be preserved.
    or
    2) The files were damaged so that they are now incomplete as well as having the alias bit set.
    or
    3) A true alias was somehow made from them at some point, and then the originals were somehow deleted.

    Only the first situation seems potentially fixable. I wasn't clear about at least some of the filesizes from the OP's first post.
  • 9. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Ralph Johns (UK) Level 9 Level 9 (67,515 points)
    Thanks for coming back.

    It does seem like random event.

    It is certainly not something I have experienced myself.
    I have files on this G4 transferred from a Performa 400 to an iMac (Bondi Blue) to here. Plus some stuff directly from a Tangerine iBook and my wife's old PC

    The oldest files would be from 1991



    10:00 PM Thursday; March 3, 2011
  • 10. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    nicschlanger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I downloaded this program, but unchecking the 'alias' checkbox didn't help. Each file is still empty.

    I don't know how long it was between when I moved the files and when this happened. It was around six months.

    Something interesting I just noticed:
    The date of creation of numerous original files that have aliases are the same as the alias. However, all of the orphan aliases were created the same date, 10/1/10.

    Like I said before, it's been a while since this actually happened. It would be easier for me to assume I made the mistake of copying the files into the folder and not realizing it, but I successfully used this folder for several months before (almost) everything inside of it was corrupted.
  • 11. Re: Entire folder inexplicably became shortcuts
    Conor McGee Level 1 Level 1 (120 points)

    I have the exact same problem. Hundreds of files lost.