Bugs & Fixes: Desktop items MIA

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Most of the time, I’m busy ferreting out the latest in freshly-minted bugs so that I can report them to you here. Every once in a while, however, it pays to take a look back at a bug that has stood up to the test of time and still remains unfixed.

One such frustrating bug involves the Finder. It occurs when you select to save items to the Desktop. I see this most frequently when saving Web pages from Safari. After selecting to save a Web Archive file, for example, I go to the Desktop only to find no trace of the file anywhere. Even if I start typing the first letters of the file’s name—which should highlight the file—nothing happens.

Yet, the file is there. You can confirm this by making a second attempt to save the same page. If you do, you’ll get the message stating that the item already exists and asking “Do you want to replace it?” Actually, this is worth doing; click Replace when you see this message. There’s a good chance that the missing file will now show up.

If that doesn’t work, select Go to Desktop (Command-Shift-D) from the Finder’s Go menu. This opens up a Finder window for your Desktop, and this alternate view of the contents of your Desktop will almost certainly show the otherwise “missing” item. At this point, doing almost anything to the item, such as double-clicking it, will often get it to appear on the Desktop itself. If that doesn’t work, you can instead move the item to another folder. If you then drag the item back to the Desktop, it should remain visible.

Finally, in the rare case where the item does not appear even in the Desktop window, select the Finder’s Dock menu while holding down the Option key. You should see a command called Relaunch. Select it. The Finder will quit and relaunch; all the Desktop items will briefly vanish and return, including the formerly MIA item.

Oddly, the problem is sporadic. I can go weeks without seeing it and then have it annoy me several times in one day.

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