Documents missing from Desktop

Jerami1981

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 29, 2019
4
0
I have an unusual issue with a users MBP.

The user is on a fresh install of Mojave, on a roughly 3-4 year old MBP. When she saves things to her desktop, they sort of disappear. If you look at her desktop, they aren't there. If you go to Finder, and select Desktop, they aren't there. However, if you go to something like Word, or Outlook, and browse to the desktop to open a file, or attach a document, they are all there.

She is not signed into the iCloud, so I assume it cannot be the whole iCloud Drive taking things to the cloud issue?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,444
5,657
What was installed on the MBP before you tried to put Mojave on it?

Whatever that was, "take her back" to it.

When something works, and something else does not....
Go with what works.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 6502a
Aug 27, 2015
984
267
on the land line mr. smith.
This used to be more common, years ago. Rebuilding the system directory would solve it, using a tool like Disk Warrior.

$100 is alot for a tool for one time use...most veteran Mac techs have Disk Warrior, if you know anybody that can run it. Second complication is that I don't think they are fully supporting APFS yet....

Could be a damaged directory only, but could be a failing drive as mentioned.

First thing would be to be sure there are backups ASAP, in case the drive is failing.
 

Jerami1981

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 29, 2019
4
0
What was installed on the MBP before you tried to put Mojave on it?

Whatever that was, "take her back" to it.

When something works, and something else does not....
Go with what works.
She was previously on High Sierra, but was having some issues with that OS, so we moved her up to Mojave after clearing her HD. She isn't sure if this issue was prevalent from the very beginning of Mojave, or recently developed. Sometimes, some of her files do show up on her desktop, but I would ball park it 3/4's are missing, which looks to be about 15-20 files.
[doublepost=1548945824][/doublepost]As for the finder issue: I am relatively unfamiliar with the workings of MACs. We are a PC based company with over 500 PCs, and maybe 10 MACs. Would Finder not displaying the files affect them not showing up on her actual desktop? The employee reboots daily and has been experiencing this issue for a couple of weeks at least, so its not an intermittent issue. Perhaps the preferences.plist is hosed. I will try and reset that tomorrow when I am at that facility.

We do not have access to any such tools unfortunately. Given that we are not a MAC friendly work environment, they do not invest in anything to maintain or support the MACs, other than the initial warranty. For now, I guess we will wait and see if other signs of disk failure start popping up, and I will try the preferences file reset. She currently keeps everything on our server of importance. She uses her desktop for short term needs, nothing of which is mission critical, or replaceable.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
433
A few thoughts:

- Saving files to the desktop is a bad habit. Save files to Documents, better still a subdirectory from Documents, or other place where the files can be organized and easily-found. I dunno, I guess this is some sort of Mac user thing. Cluttered desktop and every app in the world open all the time. It is endemic. Sigh. Users should be encouraged to organize files, as they more typically do on Windows computers.

- This is not disk failure

- Finder is junk. I almost NEVER use it. I use it only when necessary for the first time opening an app from a third-party source. FWIW I use PathFinder.

- Check using the Console app. Use your Linux/Unix server skillz. MacOS is a BSD-Unix based system, and has a shell identical to the shells on your Linux server. You have Windows servers? I feel so bad for you.

cd /users/whoever/Desktop
ls -la

- Unlikely to be hidden files, but be aware that Finder hides hidden files by default. (Duh! I guess because they are supposed to be HIDDEN!) Files starting with . (period) are hidden. But files can be hidden by setting an attribute even if they don't start with a period. Again, unlikely.

[doublepost=1548954789][/doublepost]
She is not signed into the iCloud
Does she SOMETIMES sign-in to iCloud?
 

Jerami1981

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 29, 2019
4
0
A few thoughts:

- Saving files to the desktop is a bad habit. Save files to Documents, better still a subdirectory from Documents, or other place where the files can be organized and easily-found. I dunno, I guess this is some sort of Mac user thing. Cluttered desktop and every app in the world open all the time. It is endemic. Sigh. Users should be encouraged to organize files, as they more typically do on Windows computers.

- This is not disk failure

- Finder is junk. I almost NEVER use it. I use it only when necessary for the first time opening an app from a third-party source. FWIW I use PathFinder.

- Check using the Console app. Use your Linux/Unix server skillz. MacOS is a BSD-Unix based system, and has a shell identical to the shells on your Linux server. You have Windows servers? I feel so bad for you.

cd /users/whoever/Desktop
ls -la

- Unlikely to be hidden files, but be aware that Finder hides hidden files by default. (Duh! I guess because they are supposed to be HIDDEN!) Files starting with . (period) are hidden. But files can be hidden by setting an attribute even if they don't start with a period. Again, unlikely.

[doublepost=1548954789][/doublepost]

Does she SOMETIMES sign-in to iCloud?
I have not verified through command prompt that the files are there. I will check that tomorrow when i reset the preference file.

I can't see how her files would be becoming hidden files on this scale. She will download a photo, work on it, and upload it back to the same site, or possibly a different site, and delete it from her computer. Or modify a document from a site before moving it to another site. This even happens if she creates say, a new word document. If they are hidden, why would programs be able to see them for user access?

She has never used iCloud on this build. She doesn't even know what her iCloud account is at this point, its been so long since she used it.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
433
She will download a photo, work on it, and upload it back to the same site, or possibly a different site, and delete it from her computer. Or modify a document from a site before moving it to another site.
Whoa!

If she deleted it, why would she then expect it to still be there?!

Sounds like pilot error.

IF she didn't delete the files, they probably are not in the Desktop folder. They are somewhere else, which is why they are not found in the Desktop. Most apps remember the last folder location and continue to use it. She probably just isn't looking in the right place.

Again, the Desktop is a horrible place to keep files. Most publishers agree that the Desktop is a horrible place to keep files, and their default file location will NOT be the Desktop. Most typically, /users/username/Documents, or an application-specific subfolder from there.

If she insists on keeping here files in the Desktop folder, she will be constantly fighting with apps that would prefer to keep their files elsewhere.
 

Jerami1981

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 29, 2019
4
0
Important point to focus on. She saves, or places files on her desktop. They do NOT show up on her physical desktop. They do NOT show up in Finder when browsing to her desktop. They DO show up in applications if you browse to the desktop as a file location to open from/save to.

Not sure why everyone keeps focusing on her work flow. Can we please move past this. This has ZERO bearing on anything related to the actual issue.

I have sat in with her and watched her save files to her desktop, both from apps local to the machine, as well as from websites. They do not appear on her desktop. She can open an application such as outlook, select add attachment, browse to her DESKTOP as the file location and wahlah, there the file is, but only in the eyes of Outlook. She is not saving them "somewhere else".
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,826
433
Open console.

killall Dock

That will fix things if it is the desktop visualization that is the problem. But you say they are also not seen in Finder.

Check in console with ls -la as I suggested.

And suck it up and make a Genius Bar appointment, or just phone up Apple Support. They will figure it out.
[doublepost=1548971672][/doublepost]
If they are hidden, why would programs be able to see them for user access
Hidden does not hide files from access in a program. It's just a bit in the directory entry. Finder pays attention to the bit, and doesn't show the file, unless you change the Finder setting to show hidden files.

If a program chooses to look at the hidden attribute and heed it, that is up to the program.

Most hidden files are configuration files used by programs. If programs could not open them, it would defeat the purpose. The hidden attribute is there to avoid confusing normal users, and avoid having them accidentally modify or delete them.

Anyway, as I said, that's very unlikely. There's no good reason an app would be setting the hidden attribute, other than for a configuration file.

Are you sure she hasn't created a directory called Desktop somewhere else than at /users/<some user name>/Desktop?

What if she tries to save files somewhere else? Like Documents? Or "foo"? Can they be seen in Finder? Why the insistence on Desktop, a horrible place to put files?

It would at least be a temporary work-around, and might provide some insight.
 
Last edited:

Mac4Brains

macrumors regular
Oct 18, 2005
119
160
I noted that you said that you don't have any tools to use on the mac. I would recommend that you get TechToolPro (Micromat.com) if you do get one (and keep it up to date!!!!!!)

As to the desktop issue. there are several possible issues happening here. so saying what to do becomes complicated.

#1 go to the finders finder menu, look a both the preferences for finder and for the view settings to see if anything strange is going on there.
#2 (AS a test) make a new user account on the computer as s dummy that you can dump later. see if the issue appears on that login. If to does not happen in that login then it is clearly an issue with the one login that can be fixed (If we find what is triggering it). HOWEVER if it does do it on the new login then it is an issue with the computer that may require a slightly more drastic action. I would back up the drive before taking any action at that point.
#3 see if the file is there in the Mac OS first and not in a funky location. open a window as a list (Not as icons) go to the user folder for that user, open the desktop folder and see if it is in there. if you can't find the desktop folder than it has something to do with iCloud settings. if it is there than it has something to do with a strange setting or may be a bad system file that is housed in that folder that is normally invisible to the user. deleting that file to force the computer to rebuild it (Reboot many be needed to do so and that may take a few extra second to do) may help but don't go nuts on invisible files since a lot of needed system files are otherwise invisible. I have found that some people make aliases to folders that they should not on the mac, like the drive itself. this creates a loop that can cause some havoc in the system. there are several possibilities involved here so giving advice with out making this post a 500 page book becomes difficult.

post the results of what you find form the above tests so I can follow up or send me a direct message threw macrumors. but I would bet that other people that have made comments are just as curious about the mystery as I am now.