My #1 wish for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2006) starts today. In the keynote speech Steve Jobs will show a preview of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the next version of Apple’s operating system. As always there are plenty of rumours going around regarding what will be new in Mac OS X and what else he is going to reveal.

I haven’t paid close attention to the rumours, but I did see a list of updates to the applications included in Mac OS X. There was no mention of my pet peeve with Mac OS X, a little thing that has bothered me for years. Most Mac users will never have had a problem with this, and most will probably call it a feature. To people like me who work in a mixed environment it is a source of frustration.

I’m talking about the hidden files that Mac OS X likes to sprinkle across remote drives mounted using SMB. .DS_Store and ._filename files show up wherever you’ve been with your Mac. Open a folder in the Finder, save a file from your favourite text editor or save an image from Photoshop and then take a look at the drive from a Windows computer.

It isn’t pretty. Nor is it necessary. I know these files are supposed to contain “helpful” information about folders or files, but you can delete them with no harm done. In a mixed environment these files give sysadmins and Mac haters a reason to point their finger at us Mac users and tell us to leave their network drives alone. And I know from personal experience and frustration that there is at least one case when a single ._filename file can bring an ASP.Net based website down.

So please, Apple, if you make one single improvement to the way Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard handles networking, make it stop littering remote volumes with these files. At the very least, please give users an easily accessible option to turn this “feature” off.

Posted on August 7, 2006 in Mac


  1. Agreed - I’d toast to that.

  2. “Starts today” means Steve entered the stage just seconds ago ;)

  3. With this “feature” … I particularly cry when I mount SVN volume via WebDAV - every single file written (and added/commited to the repository) triggers another “versioning” - of the hidden Finder files :/

    So yes, it was something that came to my mind recently, it should be optional in times when data/resource forks are almost dead.

  4. August 7, 2006 by Michaël Guitton

    Agreed. I’d wish OS X Finder (and Spotlight) had an accessible option to handle and manage such hidden files as .htaccess (rather than having to use the Terminal or BBEdit disk browser feature or the cryptc default command.)

    Interestingly, GS/OS Finder on the Apple IIgs had the same bad habit of littering volumes and folders with many invisible “” files.

  5. I agree, and with the Finder (hopefully) undergoing a major overhaul, it’s possible although not likely.

    I just can’t believe they are defaulting to 256 MB of RAM on the new MacPro. That seems really low, doesn’t it? Maybe a reporting error by MacNN… I hope.

  6. August 7, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jan: Yeah I was a little late posting this one ;-).

    Dave: 256 MB is a joke, but the rest looks good. Now I just need to be smart and force myself to wait for the second revision of the MacPro.

  7. 256MB is VRAM. They have 1G RAM as a baseline. (A typo in the transcript…)

    Ad Rev.B. - Yay, something I’m thinking about.

  8. Coming from someone who had never worked in a Mac environment before, but now owns a Mac, I have to agree with you. These files are confusing and damn right annoying.

    And I agree with Michaël Guitton too. I want to see my .htaccess files, without seeing all the other hidden files. And I tell ya, there are a lot of them, making showing all hidden files a complete no-no.

  9. Well, if your wish doesn’t come true, take a look at Blue Harvest. It makes life much easier in mixed environments.

  10. I, too agree. I was using some files the other day that had been created on a Mac and the .DS_Store et al actually seem to make it so I can’t copy easily on my XP PC. It died when copying folders containing these files forcing me to move each individual file by hand!

    For someone thinking about getting a Mac but who will continue using a PC as well this is a big deal.

  11. August 7, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Alpha: Thanks for that tip! Now all I need is a way to fix the duplicate hidden files. They really should make this a control panel option somewhere.

    grettir: Blue Harvest looks like it does the same thing as a shell script I’ve created to clean up the drives. Probably much easier to use though :-).

  12. Amen to that! As both PC and Mac user this frustrates the hell out of me. Why can they not centralise this into a database, dare I say it, a Mac Registry?

  13. This little feature causes endless frustration here (mixed environment). Our resident machead has tried all suggested methods to stop the damn files being created, yet they keep turning up (I suspect our long-in-the-tooth novell network version has something to do with it though).

    I think .DS_store breeds like coat hangers. Not to mention all the “trashes” and other crap left behind whenever my USB drive goes near a Mac. Macs are very untidy guests! ;)

  14. I concur. Those .DSStore and .filename files are a menace. And everytime I transfer folders between computers (which I do often) they come back all over again!! grrr!

  15. I think the Mac Pro is an awesome machine!!!

    I know that several companies’ servers would be highly challenged by this ‘workstation’… I just think the specs are unbelievable.

    I soooo want one right now, and I wish I had waited a bit more. I am very very happy with my MacBook Pro, but it will be a rough trial to justify another $2000 for the household.


    I have always wanted a dual-processor machine (yes, G5s were dual, but I wasn’t a machead before)… and now that I have got to enjoy my mac so much, then I am up for grabs.

    It would be an awesome gift for my birthday. =) Don’t ya think? That will definitely get me to work… right away!!!!

    When it comes to Leopard and stuff… I think it got a bit overhyped.

    And the Time Machine… ugh… is like Jar-Jar all over again!!!


  16. thumbs.db anyone?

  17. August 8, 2006 by Victor Welling

    Proud: In Windows Explorer, go to Tools -> Folder Options. In the View tab enable the “Do not cache thumbnails option” and you don’t have to worry about thumbs.db anymore.

  18. This has been my number 1 wish since the beta days. Followed closely by the buggy Finder. Maybe this is one of the “top secret” features?


  19. Meantime you can download Onyx a cool app that allows you to configure certain hidden parameters of the Finder and much more.

    You’ll find a checkbox to disable the creation of .DS_Store files on network’s drives.

  20. We run a mixed environment and got around the DS_Store / Thumbs.db problem by creating separate shares for Mac and Windows. Both point to the same network drive, but the Mac share masks out unwanted Windows files, and the Windows share masks the Mac ones.

  21. If I had a single wish for a change to OSX it would be to modify the ‘save changes’ dialogue box (for example, when you’ve opened a PSD and wish to close it without saving). On a PC you can go between ‘save’, ‘do not save’ and ‘cancel’ with the arrow keys. On the Mac, you must go to the mouse and click a button.

    Maybe there is a keyboard shortcut to this I don’t know about – and I’d be eternally grateful to anyone who enlightened me– but I haven’t found it and no one I’ve asked seems to know.

  22. August 8, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Justin: Yep, there is a way:

    Go to System Preferences / Keyboard & Mouse / Keyboard Shortcuts and check “All controls” at the bottom. After that you can tab to all controls in dialog boxes. Press space to activate the control you have tabbed to.

  23. In most applications you can press command+d to select the Don’t Save button. But enabling the keyboard shurtcuts should also do it. :)


  24. Wow, I had never realized where those damned files come from. I work in a split office (half Mac, half PC) and constantly see them trying to sneak into our CVS repository. Now I know who to blame. : )

  25. Those ‘extra’ files appearing on remote volumes have been bothering me too, thanks for highlighting Roger and great link Alpha Chen!

  26. Hey Roger!!!

    That tip on the “All Controls” keyboard is awesome.

    I have also noticed that some apps Do respond to keystrokes, such as Firefox, when it asks to remember a password: At the prompt you can hit ‘R’ and it will ‘Remember’.

    But I don’t think my arrows ever worked.

    Thanks! hat tip

  27. Thanks Roger, I’ll try that. Something tells me I tried that once before with no luck, but I probably didn’t do it right.

    If it works I owe you a beer.

  28. 1) Keyboard access in OSX suck. Enabling several checkboxes/features only to be able to skip between buttons? Huh… Accessing menubar, drawers and so fort means remembering weird ctrl+f# combinations. Something is reachable by mouse only… Annoying.

    2) The DSDontWriteNetworkStores won’t save the day. One of the machine I’m using is flooding remote drives even with this setting on. Not even talking about “._” files, they are created every time. So it’s not really the solution one would appreciate and expect.

  29. August 11, 2006 by David Rodger

    Justin and Rob, some apps allow a single letter for Don’t Save: D.

    Examples: Toast (DVD/CD burning) and Pro Tools (HD anyway)

  30. August 11, 2006 by Ian Roberts

    I’ve been using BlueHarvest for about three months now and it’s awesome. It not only removes the DS Store files, but also the dot underscore duplicate files when you copy or create a new file in a remote directory. It’s worth the $10 to play nicely in a mixed environment.

  31. August 13, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Jan: Keyboard access in Mac OS X could be more obvious, but I don’t agree that it sucks. Shift+Ctrl+M activates the menu bar and lets you navigate it by keyboard. I haven’t checked, but I’m guessing you could change that shortcut if you want to.

  32. August 17, 2006 by zach

    a free program called tinkertool gives you access to additional finder options, one of which is removing the .ds files in network connections, it also allows you to “quit” finder as well, which is one of my pet peeves with always having to see the black triangle in the dock

    the link for the screenshot of the programs is:

  33. TinkerTool is great. I added it to my account as a favorite.

    Together with TransparentDock it makes the Finder/Dock experience much more pleasant. Now, please Apple, FTFF!

  34. maybe I am late, but the following worked for me:

    I am completely new on mac osx and have been working only with windows for ages now. But that advice at stopped the spreading of the confusing ds_store files for me.


  35. September 1, 2006 by martyn Pot

    Just curious what problem you refer to when you mentioned .ds store files causing problems with an ASP site. We might be experiencing something similar when producers (on Macs) connect to the IIS machine over the LAN to upload some large files. The ASP script that reads the directory seems to bug out at the .ds store file which then breaks the database.

  36. September 1, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    martyn: I do a lot of work with a CMS based on ASP.Net. After I edit certain configuration files from my Mac, the site can’t be compiled and won’t run until I remove the ._filename resource file that is created. Your example makes it even more obvious that Apple really needs to give end users the option to turn off the creation of both resource files (._filename) and .DS_Store files.

  37. Type in Terminal

    defaults write DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

    reboot! :)

  38. For people using WebDAV for Subversion access, BlueHarvest and DSDontWriteNetworkStores doesn’t help much. BlueHarvest still allows the resource files (._*) to be written, which causes subversion to commit new versions. Deleting them after creation causes further versions, resulting in 17 versions per file change.

    One solution to this is to use Apache htrewrite to deny writes of ._* files. I detailed how to do this here:

    However, one effect of this solution is that there are problems writing new files to the WebDAV repository using OSX. I’m still looking for a viable work-around…

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