Why can't file names be longer than 30 characters?
A reader is told his long filenames are unacceptable, despite OS X's support for them.
Oleksandr Bogonis is a Windows-to-OS X switcher who generally likes the move, but he’s frustrating by a limit he seems to have run up against:
A field for a file name in “Save as...” box is critically short. It allows one to enter 30 or so symbols. I often save files which have long names—up to 100 symbols.
He wonders if there’s a trick to increase file-name length. The real limit is 255 characters, so something is definitely off.
It could be one of a few scenarios:
You’re trying to save out of Apple’s Mail app and it has a corrupted index. Many users across many forums and years report being told the character limit for a volume is 31 characters, then re-indexing Mail, and the problem disappears. Go figure! But if it works, it works. The simplest way to fix Mail is to re-do your whole Spotlight index per Apple’s instructions. (There are outdated instructions on Macworld and elsewhere for deleting Mail’s index by itself, but these seem unreliable in El Capitan.)
If you’re using a network or external volume that’s not formatted for Mac OS X (as HFS+), you may be hitting a limit for that other format.
Some software was never properly updated to move from a previous maximum 31-character limit many, many years ago—this dates back to Mac OS 9! But for compatibility’s sake, some software throttled filename length. Apparently, some apps still adhere to this.
Your full Unix path may be too long. There’s a soft limit of 1024 characters for the entire path from root to your file (like
/Users/glenn/Documents/Hope Springs Eternal/Smashmouth/Ringbearer/Oodles.txt/). Some users report being able to create paths longer than that, but then experiencing problems.
You may need to repair your disk. The best way is to boot into OS X Recovery, run Disk Utility, and run Repair Disk on your startup volume. Restart your Mac ( > Restart), then hold down Command-R until you get the recovery screen. Launch Disk Utility, select the startup volume, and click Repair Disk; do the same for the partition in that volume. Then > Restart.
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