1 2 Previous Next 15 Replies Latest reply: May 21, 2012 9:04 AM by Marie Avante
Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

The problem started with not being able to customize the sidebar. No matter what I did to it, it kept reverting to what it had been before I made any change every time I restarted the computer. I had read to delete the file com.apple.sidebarlists.plist in ~/Library/Preferences and then restart to fix it, because it would write a new clean copy of the file. I did. It didn't fix it. In fact, after I restarted, the system didn't write a new com.apple.sidebarlists.plist at all, so I had none at all.

 

While going through a lot of different things trying to track down the problem I noticed that my "Recent Items" list under the Apple menu wasn't updating.

 

I happened to discover that the last time the preferences file com.apple.recentitems.plist had been changed was the same date as my deleted com.apple.sidebarlists.plist had been changed. I then discovered that all the following preferences files had a "Date Modified" that was the same as those two:

 

com.apple.java.JavaPreferences.plist

iCalExternalSync.plist

com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.trackpad.plist

com.apple.loginitems.plist

com.apple.menuextra.clock.plist

com.apple.spotlight.plist

com.apple.SoftwareUpdate.plist

 

I have no idea what is going on. I've done everything I know to determine that it isn't a permissions issue on the Preferences folder. I'm the owner, and I have Read and Write access. But the Finder still will not save the sidebar settings. I tried restoring an old copy of com.apple.sidebarlists.plist and com.apple.recentitems.plist from Time Machine, but the same thing happens: I customize the sidebar, log out and back in (or reboot), and it's as though I never customized it at all. It's back the way it was. The "Date Modified" date doesn't change.

 

I found one, and only one, other discussion describing a similar issue, but it was closed back in 2010, so I can't post to it:

 

Sidebar inoperable and missing com.apple.sidebarlists.plist file

 

It describes a complex fix that I can't follow and make sense of. I don't know how to set up a new user and "migrate" over the settings from an old user. I have so many preference set for so many things that are crucial to what I do, and I cannot risk losing them, but that discussion certainly seems to indicate that is exactly what can happen, or it is something that would take days. (Reboot each time after copying over every single preferences file? Seriously? You can't be serious.)

 

Does anybody have any clue what can be causing this pernicious behavior, or any idea what can be done about it that wouldn't be as Draconian as the advice in that thread above?

 

I've also opened a bunch of different things since I restored an old com.apple.recentitems.plist, and the "Date Modified" doesn't change on it, either—but for some reason, the list under the Apple menu is changing. I haven't tried rebooting yet since I restored the old one, though, and I have a feeling that as soon as I reboot, it will be showing the list from the restored date.

 

Exhausted and dismayed...


Mac OS X (10.6.8)
  • 1. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    Marie Avante wrote:

     

    Finder still will not save the sidebar settings

    If I understand your post correctly, basically, that's your problem. Troubleshooting the vast majority of computer issues is essentially a process of isolating the problem.

     

    So, let's start by having quick check of the pref file itself. I know you've deleted it, and Finder failed to replace it, but, nevertheless, let's check it.

     

    (1) In Terminal,

     

    $ ls -l ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.sidebarlists.plist

     

    (this will show us that the file exists and its permissions, which should be -rw-------), then

     

    $ plutil ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.sidebarlists.plist

     

    This will tell us if its syntax is correct.

     

    (2) The next step is to test the problem in Safe Mode; among other things, Safe Mode disables some 3rd-party software, so we'll know that the problem is not caused by some add-on.

     

    Starting up in Safe Mode

    <http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1455>

     

    Start up in Safe Mode, make changes, reboot in Safe Mode again, check if the changes 'stuck'.

     

    (3) Then it's the new user technique. Create a new user, reboot, log in as the new user, make changes, reboot, log in as the new user, check if the changes 'stuck'. If they have, then we know the problem is in your user account, and not a system-wide issue with Finder or some other process.

  • 2. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    jsd2 Level 5 Level 5 (6,200 points)

    I've done everything I know to determine that it isn't a permissions issue on the Preferences folder. I'm the owner, and I have Read and Write access.

     

    If you haven't already done so, I would again Get Info on ~/Library/Preferences, and look in the General section to be sure the "Locked" checkbox is not checked.

  • 3. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Thank you, fane_j, for your comprehensive reply. I'm sorry to have been slow to respond; I've had to be away for a little while.

     

    I ran the two Terminal commands, and they both returned the expected results: correct read/write permissions, and "OK" from plutil.

     

    I booted in Safe mode, made sidebar changes, rebooted, and the changes did not "stick."

     

    I've created a new user as you recommended. I restarted and logged in as the new user. I made sidebar changes, rebooted, logged back in as the new user, and the changes "stuck."

     

    I'm taking that as bad news for my main user account that I've been using for years, but it may be bad news on a wider scale: one troubling thing is that although the sidebar changes worked, my startup disk did not appear on the Desktop for the new user. The startup disk appeared in the sidebar, and it appeared in Disk Utility, but not on the Desktop.

     

    My startup disk *does* appear on the Desktop for my main user account (the one that won't save the sidebar changes, which I'm logged back into at the moment).

     

    Anyway, there are the results of all the steps you said for me to take. I don't quite know where to go from here.

     

    It may be irrelevant, but I *think* this anomalous behavior all began sometime after I used SuperDuper to create a clone of my startup disk on a partition of an external drive, then later had SuperDuper update the clone several times. The clone shows up on the Desktop for the new user, but it is definitely not the startup disk. I checked that several times. (This may be just clouding the issue, but I thought I should mention it.)

  • 4. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Hi jsd2. Thanks, and I checked, but it seems that none of the folders in the relevant path are locked.

  • 5. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    Marie Avante wrote:

     

    I booted in Safe mode, made sidebar changes, rebooted, and the changes did not "stick."

    That means the problem is not caused by third-party software.

    I restarted and logged in as the new user. I made sidebar changes, rebooted, logged back in as the new user, and the changes "stuck."

    And that means that the problem is definitely in the user domain, ie, somewhere in your Home folder. But I cannot imagine what it may be. Let's try a shot in the dark. jsd2's post reminded me that, in another thread, he handled very elegantly a tricky ACLs issue, so let's check if any of the possible prefs have ACLs or extended attributes. Try this in Terminal

     

    $ ls -al ~/Library/Preferences/ | grep "\(\+\|@\)\(.*com\.apple\)"

     

    Anything relevant?

  • 6. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    ChangeAgent Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)

    try running Applejack.

     

    (http://sourceforge.net/projects/applejack/)

     

    It often solves silly little problems like this.

     

    Or an archive and install.

     

    let me know how you get on.

  • 7. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Hi fane_j. Thanks again very much for your help. I ran the command, and one file that seems to be a fairly obvious weirdness in this list that it returned is com.apple.desktop.plist (I've changed my name to "username" in the list, but otherwise it's exactly the way it appeared):

     

    -rw-------@    1 username  username           287 Mar 20 10:27 com.apple.ATS.plist

    -rw-------@    1 username  username           162 Oct  7  2009 com.apple.Safari.RSS.plist

    -rw-------@    1 username  username         10354 Mar 22 08:27 com.apple.Safari.plist

    -rw-------@    1 username  username           111 Jan 23 18:12 com.apple.WebFoundation.plist

    -rw-------@    1 username  username          1448 Feb 20 10:04 com.apple.WebKit.PluginProcess.plist

    -rwxrwxrwx@    1 username  username          1663 Dec  1  2010 com.apple.desktop.plist

    -rw-r--r--@    1 username  username         12543 Jan 22 09:34 com.apple.garageband.cs

    -rw-------@    1 username  username          1070 Jan  4 17:20 com.apple.java.JavaPreferences.plist

    -rw-r--r--@    1 username  username            42 Oct  5  2003 com.apple.nsl.ui

    -rw-------@    1 username  username          1925 Mar 17 08:13 com.apple.print.custompresets.forprinter. .plist

    -rw-------@    1 username  username          8255 Dec 15 08:59 com.apple.print.custompresets.plist

    -rw-r--r--@    1 username  username         27972 Jul 30  2011 com.apple.quicktime.plugin.preferences.plist

     

    I can't really make out what that grep string was sussing out, but those permissions flags (if that's what they're called) on that file sure look odd, at least compared to the others. Could that be the problem?

  • 8. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Thanks, ChangeAgent. I followed the link and have gotten AppleJack. I'm going to wait to see what fane_j has to say about the results of the Terminal command before I start just poking around with AppleJack.

     

    As for archive and install, I had the vague (and maybe wrong) notion that that method had fallen by the wayside with Snow Leopard. I was aware of no such option when I installed Snow Leopard.

  • 9. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    Marie Avante wrote:

     

    I can't really make out what that grep string was sussing out

    If the permissions field ends with a +, the file has ACLs; if it ends with a @, it has EAs, or both EAs and ACLs. The result shows some prefs with EAs or both EAs and ACLs, but none seem relevant to the problem. It also shows unexpected permissions for several files (garageband, quicktime, nsl, and, of course, desktop), but I don't know what that means.

     

    There are only two things I can think of at this point.

     

    First, remove com.apple.nsl.ui to somewhere else. I don't know what it does, so don't delete, but it seems to be quite old and maybe it causes some incompatibility issues with the prefs.

     

    Second, let's check the ACLs further up the hierarchy.

     

    $ ls -el ~/Library | grep -A 1 Preferences

     

    should return permissions and ACLs for the prefs folder, and

     

    $ ls -el ~ | grep -A 1 Library

     

    for your Library folder. I believe permissions should be

     

    drwx------@

     

    and ACLs

     

    0: group:everyone deny delete

  • 10. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    Marie Avante wrote:

     

    I start just poking around with AppleJack.

    You have to be careful with that. First, AppleJack should only be used in SUM. Second, according to its Read Me

     

    "AppleJack is a shell script intended to assist you in trouble-shooting startup problems in Mac OS X."

     

    You don't have start up issues. But, if you decide to use AppleJack, first read very carefully the accompanying docs and make sure you understand what it does and how it does it.

  • 11. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Moved com.apple.nsl.ui to the desktop.

     

    Results of the first command, for Preferences:

     

    ===========

    drwx------     3 username  username    102 Jun 25  2009 Safe Preferences

    drwxr-xr-x     2 username  username     68 Mar 11 13:50 Saved Searches

    ===========

     

    Results of the second command, for Library:

     

    ===========

    drwxrwxr--   7 username  username   238 Sep 13  2011 Calibre Library

    drwxrwxr--@ 65 username  username  2210 Mar 22 21:53 Desktop

    --

    drwxrwxr-x+ 71 username  username  2414 Mar 11 13:50 Library

    0: group:everyone deny delete

    ===========

     

    The permissions aren't what you said you thought they would be on Library, and I see a plus sign on Library. That indicats ACLs, is that correct?

  • 12. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Marie Avante Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    fane_j wrote:

     

    if you decide to use AppleJack, first read very carefully the accompanying docs and make sure you understand what it does and how it does it.

     

    Heh. I don't.

  • 13. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    ChangeAgent Level 1 Level 1 (140 points)

    Marie Avante wrote:

     

    Thanks, ChangeAgent. I followed the link and have gotten AppleJack. I'm going to wait to see what fane_j has to say about the results of the Terminal command before I start just poking around with AppleJack.

     

    OK Understood, I have good experiences with it as it cleans out a lot of files that can accumulate.  and no I have solved other problems besides start-up (this to the comment of fane_j)

     


    Marie Avante wrote:

     

     

    As for archive and install, I had the vague (and maybe wrong) notion that that method had fallen by the wayside with Snow Leopard. I was aware of no such option when I installed Snow Leopard.

    nope, see here:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2362057?start=0&tstart=0

  • 14. Re: Finder not writing or saving some preferences
    Hojes Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Have you (anyone) solved the problem? I have the same issue in Lion - very annoying.

1 2 Previous Next