Play nice with non-Mac volumes

Unlike the “classic” Mac OS, OS X does Windows. Out of the box, you can easily connect to Windows servers and shares. However, as any Windows-centric IT person will tell you—vehemently—OS X isn’t necessarily the best neighbor in the Network Neighborhood. Every time you access a remote Windows share (or an NFS volume), Mac OS X leaves behind .DS_Store detritus—files that are useful, but invisible, to Mac OS X while being useless, and completely visible, to Windows users. In addition, if you copy a file with a Mac OS resource fork to a non-Mac volume, that resource fork is copied as a second file; for example, if an image named IMG_0995.JPG has a Finder thumbnail—which resides in the file’s resource fork—copying that image to a non-HFS volume will result in two files being created on the volume: IMG_0995.JPG and ._IMG_0995.JPG . You won’t see the second file, but Windows users (and, depending on the system, Unix and Linux users, as well) will.

Now, there are many ways to “fix” this problem; for example, a number of products I covered in my roundup of OS X “tweaking” utilities can retroactively remove .DS_Store files from folders and volumes. And Apple provides a Terminal command you can run to prevent particular user accounts from creating .DS_Store files on remote volumes in the first place (although it doesn’t prevent the creation of resource-fork files). But if you frequently interact with non-Mac servers and shares, an easier—and more comprehensive—option is ZeroOneTwenty’s $10 BlueHarvest 1.1 (   ).

BlueHarvest, which works as a Mac OS X System Preferences pane, provides a number of options for keeping non-Mac servers and volumes free of Mac OS X litter. First and foremost, it can automatically prevent .DS_Store files from being created. (Actually, it waits until they’re created and then deletes them immediately—according to the developer, this is a safer way to handle the situation.) But instead of a blanket approach, you choose what types of directories should be .DS_Store-free: remote servers; all non-HFS disks (such as flash drives, digital camera media, Windows-formatted FireWire and USB drives, and even Boot Camp partitions on your own Mac); your startup disk (except for your Home folder); or your Home folder itself. You can choose any combination of these options, and you can also choose specific folders to keep clean.

BlueHarvest .DS_Store options

Another useful option is to automatically remove the resource forks from files copied to non-HFS-formatted (i.e., non-Mac) volumes. However, because some files need their resource forks when used on a Mac, and you may need to copy such files back to your Mac at some point, BlueHarvest lets you restrict this feature to particular file types such as .txt, .mp3, .html, and most image files—things that don’t store important information in their resource forks. (Although the BlueHarvest interface doesn’t make it clear, this option applies only to non-HFS-formatted volumes, so it won’t affect the files on your Mac’s hard drive.)

BlueHarvest resource forks options

Finally, BlueHarvest’s Disks screen lets you get rid of several other potentially annoying files left behind on non-Mac disks by Mac OS X: .Trashes, .Spotlight-V100, and .VolumeIcon.icns. By enabling options here, these files will be automatically deleted from non-HFS removable volumes (external hard drives, flash drives, and the like). And if an application you use creates its own litter, you can add those files to the list so that they’ll be cleaned up, as well.

BlueHarvest Disks options

What if you worked with a non-Mac volume before installing BlueHarvest—or you come across a server accessed by another Mac user who isn’t quite as considerate as you? Simply drag the volume or folder onto BlueHarvest’s Cleaner screen and it will get rid of all .DS_Store and resource-fork files it finds. (Be careful with this option, as it’s unforgiving— all offending files will be deleted immediately, regardless of your settings in BlueHarvest’s other screens.)

BlueHarvest Cleaner

Besides being convenient, BlueHarvest stands out by differentiating between HFS (Mac) volumes and non-HFS ones, and by giving you extensive control over exactly which disk debris to delete. It’s a great tool for those who spend lots of time working with non-Mac servers and volumes.

BlueHarvest requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is a Universal Binary.

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