I changed User Short name and have lost all preferences

Discussion in 'macOS' started by prettyvisitor, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. prettyvisitor macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2009
    Hello all!

    Yes: I stupidly changed the short name of my home directory oblivious to the consequences. I have searched the internet high and low and have found a few threads already posted (including an Apple support article) that relate directly to this issue. However, although the root of the problem is the same in that I changed the short name, the outcome is slightly different and I can't restore all my preferences in the manner detailed in these articles.

    I have a Mac OS X 10.4.11.
    Here is exactly what I did and what is going on:

    1. I went into Get Info. in the home directory icon in Finder.
    Say the original name was john, I changed it to Fred.

    2. Since then, when I open any applications such as Skype, iTunes, iCalendar etc. all of the settings have been reverted to default making it appear as if I've only bought the Mac.

    -- However all my documents and music files are still there and can be accessed normally in the newly named directory. My desktop and widgets are also fine.

    3. Now when I go to Macintosh HD and click into users there are 3 things:

    1. The newly named home directory Fred with the house icon

    2. A folder with the old home directory's name, that being john. Inside there are Documents, Library, Music and Pictures folders but only the Library folder seems to contain anything important, which I hope are all my preferences. The other three are effectively empty.

    Like I said I can access my music files etc. normally.

    3. Lastly the shared folder.

    I haven't turned off or restarted my laptop because reading on threads it appears as if I can cause damage or end up not being able to access my mac.

    The two solutions I've found online are these:

    1. http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/renamehomerecovery.html

    The problem with this one for me is that I can't rename the new directory with the old name - it just won't let me.

    2. http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1876

    The problem with this solution and another I found is that I think they are assuming the old directory - john - is in fact still a directory but in my case it is a folder.

    Apologies that I'm resurrecting a frequently posted issue but I'd rather be safe than sorry and I'm not exactly sure how to revert everything back to normal!

    Can I simply copy and paste the library folder from 'john' into a newly created user?
    How do I simply restore all my settings etc.?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2010
    Changing the name has made OSX make a brand new home folder. Your old one is still there so your prefferences are there too.

    To get them back you need to start using your old home folder again.

    1. Open system prefferences.

    2. Click on accounts.

    3. Click on the padlock in the bottom left corner (you may need to enter your password).

    4. Right click, or Ctl + click on your account name on the left side, then select advanced options.

    There should be an option to change the location of your home folder. select your old home folder (it wont have the house icon yet).

    Restart and check your old home folder has the house icon.

    This should restore all your old settings. If all is running fine it is then safe to delete to un-used home folder (the one without the house).
  3. prettyvisitor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2009

    Hey mjsmke,

    Thanks a million for the swift reply.

    I did exactly as you said but unfortunately I am unable to access advanced options for the user, which is actually the administrator (there are no other users). I right clicked and double clicked but nothing.

    Any further suggestions?

  4. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    Here's another Apple KB article that may be helpful, albeit long:


    (I don't think you have the right-click to Advanced Options... capability in 10.4.11)
  5. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2010
    Sorry its been ages since i last used 10.4.11.

    The old process is called symlinking via terminal. Utilities>Terminal

    You would normally copy the text bellow into terminal changing 'Boot Drive/Users/Users' to the correct path for your home folder.

    sudo ln -s /Volumes/Boot Drive/Users /Users

    But as you have 2 home folders in that location it may not work.

    Dont delete or move any folders yet as you may make things worse.
  6. prettyvisitor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2009

    So I should attempt to symlink?
    I've never used Terminal so I'm not exactly familiar with how it works. Do I simply open it and copy and paste that command?
    If I could get a step by step that would be great!

    Again thank you for the replies.
  7. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2010
    I'm not 100% sure. Maybe someone else has done this before?

    Another idea is to copy across any preferences from your old home folder to the new one. In the home folder there is a Library folder. Try replacing the Safari folder with the one from the old home folder. If this brings back your bookmarks etc.. Try it with Keychains too. Then go on the replace other folders if this works.
  8. prettyvisitor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2009
    OK I looked into simply copying and pasting the preferences but the problem is that it's not clear which folders should be transferred and which shouldn't be. There are files relating to a program in more than one folder within the library and when I contrast with the same folders in the new home directory its a confusing picture and I don't want to damage anything by moving/deleting/overwriting the wrong thing. Furthermore I read that moving folders can make the situation worse:


    I realize this is a very specific problem difficult to deal with unless you have it in front of your eyes but any help is appreciated - I'm quite desperate!

  9. prettyvisitor thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2009
    OK so further information that could be of use.

    I opened iTunes and got the initial start up prompts - license agreement etc.

    Although I clicked import all my music files this wasn't carried out. I went into 'Add to Library' and in the finder window that opens as a result iTunes is directing to the old home directory (john) in which I have no music files. All my music files are in the new home directory fred. In this iTunes finder window, the old directory john (which in the normal finder is just a folder) now has the house icon, while the new directory fred is now just a folder, inside of which are all my documents and music files.

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