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Desktop view options change unexpectedly

Every now and again, the View options on my desktop change - the icon size reduces, grid spacing goes to maximum and the Arrange By setting goes from snap to grid to name. It can take some time to re-arrange everything.

I can't tie it into any particular activity or action. I don't run a lot of applications - I use MS Word and Panorama (database management software) every day but the problem doesn't arise every day. Any ideas why this might happen?

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maybe a few...

In reply to: Desktop view options change unexpectedly

First, let's be clear on the terminology. I'll assume you're using it correctly, but often that's not the case with new users, and I don't have a clue about your experience level, which might very well be "higher" than mine. So, I'm assuming that you really are talking about the Desktop, aka the "background", or the "opening screen" when only Finder is running, and not a Finder Window, which would require opening a folder or drive.

Given that, I'd suspect a defect in the Desktop plist file, found here:

To test that theory, move the indicated .plist file to the Desktop.
Restart. This will create a factory default plist for the Desktop.
Now I guess you'll have to use the computer awhile, hopefully a long while, to see if the problem persists.
If it doesn't, then you can Trash that .plist file you placed on the Desktop.

The only reason to keep the relocated .plist file around is in case you want to put it back. You'd want to do that to save yourself the "trouble" of redoing any preferences you had changed for the Desktop. So, if the problem does persist, you can really choose either plist file to keep, and get rid of the extra one.

The next step I'd advise would be to log in under a different User Account and see if it has the same symptoms.

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Desktop view options change unexpectedly

In reply to: maybe a few...

Yes, I am talking about the first Finder screen that appears. I did as advised and we'll see what happens. Interestingly, no new file was created in the Prefs folder (or anywhere else) but everything seems to work OK. I'll hold on to the original.

BTW, I'm a 25-year Mac user, so I'm not a beginner but there is still an awful lot that I don't know Happy


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In reply to: Desktop view options change unexpectedly

I'm sure you'll find that file is there.
It would have been created by the system when it could not find the one you removed.

Take a look at the Finder preferences, in the menu bar, and then go take another look in the library


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In reply to: Strange,

OK, it's back now - it certainly wasn't when I did a restart, nor when I did a shut down and boot but it appeared some time later - I'd be interested to know what actually triggers its creation because it appears not to be solely a restart or reboot. I'll do a bit of research tomorrow (it's now after 11 pm)

Thanks for your interest and your help.


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Desktop view settings

In reply to: Solved

The problem has returned - this time, I was running Windows XP in VMWare Fusion which may have had some effect. Any other ideas?

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In reply to: Desktop view settings

As mentioned in my first post (such is the danger of proposing two potential solutions in one post!) try logging in from a different User Account.

If you only have one, you should create another just for such troubleshooting endeavors.

System Preferences > Accounts
Hit the + button to make a new one
(just in case you didn't know, saves an unnecessary "post cycle" - but, with your level of experience, that was likely not needed... oh well!)

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In reply to: yes....

Thanks - I'll try that.

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Maybe related to Trackpad gestures

In reply to: Desktop view options change unexpectedly

I have only part of the problem, where the icons on my desktop suddenly shrink. I noticed that it only happened when I was touching the trackpad, and usually just after closing a window, or clicking on the desktop. So, by trial and error, I found that if I turned off the "Pinch Open & Close" option on the trackpad system preferences, it would stop happening.

Give it a try, and see if this helps you.

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Desktop view settings

In reply to: Maybe related to Trackpad gestures

Thanks scottzc - that would certainly be helpful if I had a trackpad but I don't think the iMac has anything like a "Pinch Open & Close" option (does it?). I've now upgraded to Snow Leopard so I'll wait and see if it recurs.

Thnks to all.

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