Why in the world is this happening to me?
September 8, 2006 9:27 AM   Subscribe

How do I fix this? My OS X finder just keeps restarting. I can't do anything. The whole status bar at the top of the screen blinks on and off and I don't have time to actually do anything before it restarts. The finder icon on the bottom keeps appearing with the arrow, then disappearing, then appearing again.

This is very strange indeed. I tried to save an attachment from Apple Mail to the desktop of my powerbook g4 running latest version of tiger. All of a sudden, all the icons on the desktop disappeared and the finder just keeps restarting itself, leaving me unable to really do anything on the laptop.

Here is what I've tried to do to fix the situation:

1) I cannot boot into safe mode, it just hits the apple logo and progress circle page and stays there forever.
2) I booted into my admin account and it works just fine. However, the account that is messed up is my wife's and she wants to be able to use it.
3) From the admin account, I'm locked out of my wife's user files for some reason. It gives me a red subtraction sign symbol and says I'm forbidden from accessing them. When I try to right click and change the permissions, her files are greyed out and don't let me do anything to them.
4) I ran the fix disc permissions in disc utility (while in the admin account, not the messed up one -- I can't start programs in the messed up account), nothing changed.
5) I tried to find the files on the desktop that we tried to copy from the Mail program and delete them. ... they aren't there. (I was able to run a Disk Inventory program to see what programs are on the computer).
6) I couldn't find anything on the Apple support knowledge based.
7) I really don't want to have to take time off of work to take this thing to the apple store!

Thanks all.
posted by visual mechanic to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Even within the admin account, you have to temporarily give yourself "root"-level privileges to make changes to other accounts.

Logged into the admin account, open the Terminal from the Utilities folder and type sudo -s. Enter your admin password.

Go to your wife's account folder (e.g. cd /Users/wifeacctname).

Rename her folder containing cache and preference files (e.g. mv Library Library.old).

Log out and attempt to log in to your wife's account. A new Library folder will be created in her home folder. If the issue is a result of something that was corrupt in the old Library folder, the new Library folder will contain fresh items.

If this fixes the issue, you can then begin to move non-Apple items in her old, unused Library.old folder to her new, fresh Library folder to restore application-specific preferences.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on September 8, 2006

Blazecock Pileon-

Type "sudo -s" (without the quotes) and then type ypur password?

Or, type "sudo -s." (without the quotes) and then type ypur password?
posted by leafwoman at 10:56 AM on September 8, 2006

Did you have the desktop icons set to show previews of pictures? Certain types of file can crash the Finder, which means when it tries to draw the desktop, it'll crash forever.

go into the terminal.
type cd /users/[wifesloginname]/
type sudo mv Desktop Desktop.old and put in your password
type sudo mkdir Desktop
and try loggin in as her again.
posted by bonaldi at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2006

"sudo -s"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2006

Thanks Blaze (ypur? my keyboard is hauntegfs)
posted by leafwoman at 12:20 PM on September 8, 2006

It must have been the desktop preview issue, because changing the desktop fixed it.

But now she can't save files to her desktop without knowing the admin username and password. What can I do to fix that?
posted by visual mechanic at 8:13 PM on September 8, 2006

posted by visual mechanic at 8:15 PM on September 8, 2006

Ahh, to make sure she owns the new Desktop directory, "sudo chown wifesloginname Desktop" from her home directory. "chown" is the unix command to change file ownership — bonaldi's commands would have left it owned by root.

Presumably if she tries to look into the Desktop.old folder, her Finder will crash again? (But only once.)
posted by hattifattener at 9:15 PM on September 8, 2006

Thanks hattifattener, I forget that step. If she views the desktop.old folder in column view, the preview bug won't happen, so she can get her other files out of it.
posted by bonaldi at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2006

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