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April 11, 2008 11:03 AM   Subscribe

What are these weird files in my cell phone's memory?

Recently purchased a 2GB memory card for my Samsung m510 cell phone, so I can listen to music while I walk to work and back. Everything is fine (well, my Bluetooth headset can't keep a connection to save its life, but that's another story), except that in the Media Player, every music folder with MP3s in it has an equal number of files in the directory that precede the MP3s with exactly the same file name, preceded by ._ (period underscore). I can't select these files, or delete them, and they don't show up when I plug the microSD card into a computer via a USB card reader.

If I try to select them with the Media Player, I get a CANNOT PLAY FILE message and I have to scroll down past them all manually to select the first "real" music file available. It's not a life-shattering issue, but it's annoying to have to manually run through 20+ files when I just want to listen to a double-album I've put on my phone.

I was associating these files with the tendency of my phone to skip/fail when I'm listening to music, but more searching around has led me to believe that the skip/fail problem isn't due to my memory card or these weird files, but rather my Bluetooth headset (a Motorola s9) dropping connections all over the place. Can't find any information about this file problem anywhere else on the Web. Thoughts?
posted by Shepherd to Technology (7 answers total)
Well, you can't see any files with a dot in front of them when you plug the card into your computer because those are hidden files. On Windows, in an explorer window, go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View, and check the "Display hidden files" box.

I'd guess that they're metadata put there by the media player on your phone. Drag them into notepad, and see what happens.
posted by fnerg at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2008

Best answer: These files came from a Mac, right?

Long story cut short and rendered ridiculous off-the-cuff: in any modern OS, there's a fair amount of metadata associated with any file or folder: an icon, what preferred app to open it with, its position when you look at the file on the desktop ... the Mac stores some of this information in the corresponding "._" file. You won't normally see it unless you manually copy a file to a non-Mac volume. The size is likely to be negligible, and they are unlikely to cause any software problems. (Unlikely but not unknown - I once had a mysterious problem in some webserver software that was caused by one of those files.) So the headset is a more likely culprit.
posted by outlier at 11:22 AM on April 11, 2008

Response by poster: These files came from a Mac, right?

Yes indeed. Is there any way to view/delete them? I'm familiar with "view hidden files" on my home PC, but I'm a bit clueless when it comes to my work Mac.
posted by Shepherd at 11:31 AM on April 11, 2008

There's a osx utility, dot_clean, that will do this for you
posted by handybitesize at 11:52 AM on April 11, 2008

You should be able to delete them on the PC with View Hidden Files (and possibly View System Files) checked.

Otherwise, I bet you could delete them from the Mac's Terminal
posted by meta_eli at 2:41 PM on April 11, 2008

Response by poster: Unfortunately, my OS is 10.4, and the dot_clean utility only works on 10.5+, but I found a trick to display all hidden files in the Finder, so I should be able to delete all these things on Monday. Now I just need to figure out how to boost my bluetooth signal (or improve the reception on my Motorola s9) and I'll be sailing.
posted by Shepherd at 4:31 PM on April 11, 2008

Response by poster: Awww, blast it. The trick to display all hidden files in the Finder doesn't carry over to my memory card, for some reason. What a pain in the butt.
posted by Shepherd at 10:03 AM on April 25, 2008

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