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Question: Screensaver Prefs Pane Crashing Every Time

Every time I try to open the screensaver preference pane by right clicking on the desktop and choosing the appropriate option, the preference pane fails to open, or opens and crashes. Sometimes it will manage to open if I choose the "reopen" option that's given after a crash. When I get into the prefs pane, I get a standard folder icon for the "computer name" screensaver, instead of the screensaver itelf. However, if I access this preference pane from the Apple menu, it works fine, and the screensaver is there and everything. This happens on every user account. I've deleted various preferences and caches, but I can't get it to work properly. Any help would be much appreciated.

Macbook, Mac OS X (10.4.7), Black, 2.0 Ghz, 2GB Crucial RAM, 100GB 7200RPM Seagate HDD

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Answer:
OK. I understand the problem you are seeing and can even reproduce it. I've also developed a workaround.

This appears to be a bug in either the Computer Name screen saver or the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane, specifically Screen Saver preferences.

I've documented the bug and the workaround in a new FAQ: see my "Computer Name screen saver appears as a folder" FAQ.

I've filed a bug report on this issue with Apple.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

---
Note: The information provided in the link(s) above is freely available. However, because I own The X Lab™, a commercial Web site to which some of these links point, the Apple Discussions Terms of Use require I include the following disclosure statement with this post:

I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.

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Sep 7, 2006 7:12 AM in response to GwiDan In response to GwiDan

Hi, GwiDan.

1. It's unclear from what you wrote if you simply described your actions imprecisely, or if you have installed some third-party items that may be causing the problems. For example:
1.1. You wrote:
"Every time I try to open the screensaver preference pane by right clicking on the desktop and choosing the appropriate option, the preference pane fails to open, or opens and crashes."
I presume you are selecting "Change Desktop Background" from the resulting contextual menu? If not, what are you selecting from the contextual menu that results from "right clicking on the desktop"?

If you can select more System Preferences preference panes than the "Change Desktop Background" preference from the contextual menu, this applies you've installed some third-party contextual menu item that could be causing the problem. Contextual menu items can be installed in two places:
(a) Your Home > Library > Contextual Menu Items folder.

(b) Computer > Macintosh HD > Library > Contextual Menu Items folder.
SInce the problem affects all accounts, it would imply a third-party contextual menu item in folder (b).

1.2. You wrote:
"However, if I access this preference pane from the Apple menu, it works fine"
Do you mean accessing "System Preferences" from the Apple Menu? There is no direct access to a preference pane from the Apple Menu, except Dock preferences via Apple Menu > Dock > Dock Preferences... One can directly launch System Preferences from the Apple Menu by selecting Apple Menu > System Preferences.

Are you using Unsanity's FruitMenu?
2. Assuming your actions were described imprecisely, problems opening the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences are generally resolved as follows:
1. Quit (Command-Q) System Preferences if it is open.

2. Trash the com.apple.desktop.plist file in your Home > Library > Preferences folder.

3. Trash the following files in your Home > Library > Preferences > ByHost folder:
(a) com.apple.screensaver.xxx.plist

(b) com.apple.screensaver. screensaver_name .xxx.plist
where
- xxx is an alphanumeric string, and

- screensaver_name is the name of a screen saver you have used.
Whether preferences files of the type shown in (b) exist depends upon the screen saver and if you have changed its options, if any.

4. Log out, then log in or restart your Mac.

5. Empty the Trash.

6. Open System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver and make the desired changes.
3. If none of the above help, Immediately after the problem occurs, check the ends of these Console logs for clues. Look for messages at the ends of the cited logs pertaining to preference panes or System Preferences.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

---
Note: The information provided in the link(s) above is freely available. However, because I own The X Lab™, a commercial Web site to which some of these links point, the Apple Discussions Terms of Use require I include the following disclosure statement with this post:

I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.

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Question marked as Helpful

Sep 7, 2006 7:12 AM in response to GwiDan In response to GwiDan

Hi, GwiDan.

1. It's unclear from what you wrote if you simply described your actions imprecisely, or if you have installed some third-party items that may be causing the problems. For example:
1.1. You wrote:
"Every time I try to open the screensaver preference pane by right clicking on the desktop and choosing the appropriate option, the preference pane fails to open, or opens and crashes."
I presume you are selecting "Change Desktop Background" from the resulting contextual menu? If not, what are you selecting from the contextual menu that results from "right clicking on the desktop"?

If you can select more System Preferences preference panes than the "Change Desktop Background" preference from the contextual menu, this applies you've installed some third-party contextual menu item that could be causing the problem. Contextual menu items can be installed in two places:
(a) Your Home > Library > Contextual Menu Items folder.

(b) Computer > Macintosh HD > Library > Contextual Menu Items folder.
SInce the problem affects all accounts, it would imply a third-party contextual menu item in folder (b).

1.2. You wrote:
"However, if I access this preference pane from the Apple menu, it works fine"
Do you mean accessing "System Preferences" from the Apple Menu? There is no direct access to a preference pane from the Apple Menu, except Dock preferences via Apple Menu > Dock > Dock Preferences... One can directly launch System Preferences from the Apple Menu by selecting Apple Menu > System Preferences.

Are you using Unsanity's FruitMenu?
2. Assuming your actions were described imprecisely, problems opening the Desktop & Screen Saver preferences are generally resolved as follows:
1. Quit (Command-Q) System Preferences if it is open.

2. Trash the com.apple.desktop.plist file in your Home > Library > Preferences folder.

3. Trash the following files in your Home > Library > Preferences > ByHost folder:
(a) com.apple.screensaver.xxx.plist

(b) com.apple.screensaver. screensaver_name .xxx.plist
where
- xxx is an alphanumeric string, and

- screensaver_name is the name of a screen saver you have used.
Whether preferences files of the type shown in (b) exist depends upon the screen saver and if you have changed its options, if any.

4. Log out, then log in or restart your Mac.

5. Empty the Trash.

6. Open System Preferences > Desktop & Screen Saver and make the desired changes.
3. If none of the above help, Immediately after the problem occurs, check the ends of these Console logs for clues. Look for messages at the ends of the cited logs pertaining to preference panes or System Preferences.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

---
Note: The information provided in the link(s) above is freely available. However, because I own The X Lab™, a commercial Web site to which some of these links point, the Apple Discussions Terms of Use require I include the following disclosure statement with this post:

I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.

Sep 7, 2006 7:12 AM

Reply Helpful (1)

Sep 7, 2006 6:57 PM in response to GwiDan In response to GwiDan

DrSmoke.

I wasn't being specific enough in my description. I was opening the screensaver preference screen by clicking on "Change Desktop Background" in the desktop context menu. This is the method where the Computer Name screensaver doesn't appear and a folder icon is present instead.

By choosing the System Preferences option from the Apple menu then navigating to the Desktop and Screensavers pane, the screensaver appears properly, and is selectable, i.e. it works just as it should.

I had tried deleting the various preferences and caches prior to posting the question, to no avail. I've tried again since, again with no success. After deleting the preferences, upon opening the screensaver selection screen, everything appears as it should, but only the first time. If the window is closed and then reopened by choosing "Change Desktop Background" in the desktop context menu, the fault reoccurs.

I've done some reading via Google searches, and it appears that this is a common problem since OS 10.3, possibly occuring on all Macs.

Sep 7, 2006 6:57 PM

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Question marked as Solved

Sep 8, 2006 6:44 AM in response to GwiDan In response to GwiDan

OK. I understand the problem you are seeing and can even reproduce it. I've also developed a workaround.

This appears to be a bug in either the Computer Name screen saver or the Desktop & Screen Saver preference pane, specifically Screen Saver preferences.

I've documented the bug and the workaround in a new FAQ: see my "Computer Name screen saver appears as a folder" FAQ.

I've filed a bug report on this issue with Apple.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

---
Note: The information provided in the link(s) above is freely available. However, because I own The X Lab™, a commercial Web site to which some of these links point, the Apple Discussions Terms of Use require I include the following disclosure statement with this post:

I may receive some form of compensation, financial or otherwise, from my recommendation or link.

Sep 8, 2006 6:44 AM

Reply Helpful

Sep 8, 2006 7:12 AM in response to Dr. Smoke In response to Dr. Smoke

The "bug" in question is that the Computer Name screen saver appears as a folder and cannot be opened if one opens Desktop & Screen Saver preferences via the "Change Desktop Background" choice in the desktop's contextual menu.

However, I'm not seeing a crash.

If you're still seeing a crash, then I suggest you try the advice in Point 3 of my earlier post here.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

Sep 8, 2006 7:12 AM

Reply Helpful

Sep 8, 2006 8:24 AM in response to Dr. Smoke In response to Dr. Smoke

I managed to stop it crashing by not using the Computer Name screensaver. If the Computer Name screensaver was the active screensaver when opening Change Desktop Background, then the preference pane would crash before opening.

It's a workarond rather than a fix, but I'll live with it.

Sep 8, 2006 8:24 AM

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Sep 8, 2006 5:08 PM in response to GwiDan In response to GwiDan

PS: I was also later able to reproduce the crash and updated my FAQ accordingly. Basically, to avoid the workaround approach, select a different screen saver: I use Flurry.

The resulting crash log did not point to any readily fixable issues: looks like a genuine bug.

Good luck!

😉 Dr. Smoke
Author: Troubleshooting Mac® OS X

Sep 8, 2006 5:08 PM

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Question: Screensaver Prefs Pane Crashing Every Time