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Desktop & Screensaver preferences pane not storing changes

991 Views 19 Replies Latest reply: Aug 11, 2013 4:43 PM by Christofer C. Bell RSS
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mfvisuals Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Apr 3, 2013 1:09 AM

Okay, I've seen this issue mentioned in other discussions for older operating systems:


My Desktop & Screensaver preferences pane is not storing changes made to the "Folders" section in the left sidebar.


If I add a few folders to the list, they remain until I quit System Preferences. After restarting System Preferences I'll generally only see one of folders that were previously added. After that first change, I can remove all folders, replace the existing folder with different folders, anything really. Then once I quit and reopen System Preferences, I'm back to seeing that one folder from the first time I went through the process.


I initially tried to remove all .plist preference files related to System Preferences, Desktop, Screensaver, and Display settings, but nothing changed. This reset the settings, but as soon as I added folders back into the list, the issue reproduced itself.


I've confirmed the issue occurs in a second, brand new user account.


I tried repairing permission and repairing disk via Disk Utility.

I reset ACLs via the Password Reset dialog in the Recovery utility.


Any other ideas as to how I can resolve this issue? Is it a bug?

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012), OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.3), 16GB RAM, Samsung 512GB SSD
  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)

    Add one folder. Quit System Preferences. Relaunch. Add another folder. Quit and relaunch. Is the second folder still there? If not, are you sure the same thing happens in another account?

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)

    It's not a bug, because I can't reproduce it on the same OS version.


    Please read this whole message before doing anything.

    This procedure is a diagnostic test. It’s unlikely to solve your problem. Don’t be disappointed when you find that nothing has changed after you complete it.

    The purpose of the test is to determine whether the problem is caused by third-party software that loads automatically at startup or login, or by a peripheral device.


    Disconnect all wired peripherals except those needed for the test, and remove all aftermarket expansion cards. Boot in safe mode* and log in to the account with the problem. The instructions provided by Apple are as follows:
    • Shut down your computer, wait 30 seconds, and then hold down the shift key while pressing the power button.
    • When you see the gray Apple logo, release the shift key.
    • If you are prompted to log in, type your password, and then hold down the shift key again as you click  Log in.
    *Note: If FileVault is enabled under OS X 10.7 or later, or if a firmware password is set, or if the boot volume is a software RAID, you can’t boot in safe mode.


    Safe mode is much slower to boot and run than normal, and some things won’t work at all, including wireless networking on certain Macs. The next normal boot may also be somewhat slow.

    The login screen appears even if you usually log in automatically. You must know your login password in order to log in. If you’ve forgotten the password, you will need to reset it before you begin.


    Test while in safe mode. Same problem?


    After testing, reboot as usual (i.e., not in safe mode) and verify that you still have the problem. Post the results of the test.

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)

    Back up all data.


    Boot into Recovery by holding down the key combination command-R at the startup chime. Release the keys when you see a gray screen with a spinning dial.


    Note: You need an always-on Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection to the Internet to use Recovery. It won’t work with USB or PPPoE modems, or with proxy servers, or with networks that require a certificate for authentication.


    When the OS X Utilities screen appears, follow the prompts to reinstall the OS. You don't need to erase the boot volume, and you won't need your backup unless something goes wrong. If your Mac was upgraded from an older version of OS X, you’ll need the Apple ID and password you used to upgrade, so make a note of those before you begin.

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)


  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)

    Back up all data. Don't continue unless you're sure you can restore from a backup, even if you're unable to log in.

    This procedure will unlock all your user files (not system files) and reset their ownership and access-control lists to the default. If you've set special values for those attributes on any of your files, they will be reverted. In that case, either stop here, or be prepared to recreate the settings if necessary. Do so only after verifying that those settings didn't cause the problem. If none of this is meaningful to you, you don't need to worry about it.


    Step 1

    If you have more than one user account, and the one in question is not an administrator account, then temporarily promote it to administrator status in the Users & Groups preference pane. To do that, unlock the preference pane using the credentials of an administrator, check the box marked Allow user to administer this computer, then reboot. You can demote the problem account back to standard status when this step has been completed.

    Triple-click the following line to select it. Copy the selected text to the Clipboard (command-C):

    { sudo chflags -R nouchg,nouappnd ~ $TMPDIR.. ; sudo chown -R $UID:staff ~ $_ ; sudo chmod -R u+rwX ~ $_ ; chmod -R -N ~ $_ ; } 2> /dev/null

    Launch the Terminal application in any of the following ways:

    ☞ Enter the first few letters of its name into a Spotlight search. Select it in the results (it should be at the top.)

    ☞ In the Finder, select Go Utilities from the menu bar, or press the key combination shift-command-U. The application is in the folder that opens.

    ☞ Open LaunchPad. Click Utilities, then Terminal in the icon grid.

    Paste into the Terminal window (command-V). You'll be prompted for your login password, which won't be displayed when you type it. You may get a one-time warning to be careful. If you don’t have a login password, you’ll need to set one before you can run the command. If you see a message that your username "is not in the sudoers file," then you're not logged in as an administrator.


    The command will take a noticeable amount of time to run. Wait for a new line ending in a dollar sign (“$”) to appear, then quit Terminal.

    Step 2 (optional)


    Step 1 should give you usable permissions in your home folder. This step will restore special attributes set by OS X on some user folders to protect them from unintended deletion or renaming. You can skip this step if you don't consider that protection to be necessary, and if everything is working as expected after step 1.

    Boot into Recovery by holding down the key combination command-R at startup. Release the keys when you see a gray screen with a spinning dial.

    When the OS X Utilities screen appears, select

    Utilities Terminal

    from the menu bar. A Terminal window will open.

    In the Terminal window, type this:



    Press the tab key. The partial command you typed will automatically be completed to this:



    Press return. A Reset Password window will open. You’re not  going to reset a password.

    Select your boot volume ("Macintosh HD," unless you gave it a different name) if not already selected.

    Select your username from the menu labeled Select the user account if not already selected.

    Under Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs, click the Reset button.



    from the menu bar.

  • Imp68 Level 4 Level 4 (2,135 points)

    I've started watching this thread with great interest.  I can reproduce this issue, in that only the last folder I add is kept.  Regardless of which ones I had, no matter how many I add, when I close preferences, only the last one added remains.


    I keep a very clean system, so this is kind of surprising to me.  I wonder what we have in common, since Linc can't reproduce it...

  • Imp68 Level 4 Level 4 (2,135 points)

    Something I've noticed...


    It's not actually the last folder I enter that gets saved, it's whatever is highlighted.  If I add 1, 2, or several folders, and have none of them hightlighted, meaning you highlight the main "folder" heading, for example, when you close and re-open the desktop and screen saver settings, none of them are there.


    That happening for you?


    I'll have access to a variety of macs tomorrow to test this one.  Currently I'm on a mid 2012 macbook pro, cleanly installed mt lion;  not an upgrade from Lion.  I've tested in the same manner as you and the issue is always there.

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (107,500 points)

    You do seem to be triggering a bug, but I don't know how. I can't reproduce it.

  • Imp68 Level 4 Level 4 (2,135 points)

    Confirmed issue on a number of systems today.  It was tried on a few iMacs, a couple Mac minis and a different Macbook Pro.  All were running 10.8.3 and showed the exact same behaviour as above.


    Only thing we can do is report a bug at I guess.

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