New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

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Topic Author
vested1
Posts: 2263
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by vested1 »

I've searched for a solution to this problem but have found nothing that works. I'm using an IMAC running Mojave 10.14 on a 3 year old computer. About a year ago it started duplicating all other preexisting desktop folders inside the new folders that I placed on the desktop. All files in those older folders duplicate as well. I have plenty of storage left, but I have the need to scan in multiple documents and place them into separate folders, submitting the documents in email to various health care reimbursement companies.

Obviously I don't want to keep all those single pdf files on the desktop and want to put them in folders to keep the desktop decluttered, but if I drag them to any folder on the desktop they are duplicated in all other folders on the desktop.

I tried deleting one of the files in one of the desktop folders as a test, knowing that it wouldn't be a great loss if that file completely disappeared, and it deleted that file in all folders. That deleted file appeared in "Trash" and when I dragged it back into any folder it duplicates in all folders.

Help!!!
Topic Author
vested1
Posts: 2263
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by vested1 »

I'll add that all existing folders on the desktop are duplicated in any new folder, and that those duplicated folders in the new folders contain all the files of that original folder. I hope that's not too confusing.
egrets
Posts: 357
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Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by egrets »

Are you sure these are folders and not shortcuts to one folder?
retiringwhen
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by retiringwhen »

I am more of a Windows guy than Mac, but I am bi-lingual :wink:

I have seen issues like this when the desktop is backed up using sync technology like OneDrive or a local NAS when the drive is connected to more than one computer. Basically the two computers gets confused about who is copying what.

Do you have a backup, or cloud storage solution that could making duplicates?
Topic Author
vested1
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by vested1 »

egrets wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:11 am Are you sure these are folders and not shortcuts to one folder?
They are the shortcuts on my desktop. When I open Finder and a particular folder, the duplicated files aren't in all folders, nor do the individual folders contain all the other folders. Still, the folders that I placed on the desktop are ones that I access frequently. If I delete a shortcut of a file or a folder on the desktop it goes to Trash and is removed from Finder as well. The folders on the desktop didn't used to duplicate so I must have changed an option somewhere accidentally.

By having the shortcuts to the folders I use frequently on my desktop, they appear in two places, finder and the desktop, which is normal. I wouldn't mind deleting the shortcuts on the desktop, but I can't do so without automatically deleting them in Finder. In fact, if I delete even one shortcut to a folder on the desktop, all folders and files go into Trash and are no longer in Finder.
retiringwhen wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 6:41 am I am more of a Windows guy than Mac, but I am bi-lingual :wink:

I have seen issues like this when the desktop is backed up using sync technology like OneDrive or a local NAS when the drive is connected to more than one computer. Basically the two computers gets confused about who is copying what.

Do you have a backup, or cloud storage solution that could making duplicates?
I'm more of a fumbling around in the dark kind of guy. I have an external hard drive that's not plugged in, only because I didn't get around to it after we moved last year. I know other MAC users do backups on ICloud or Time Machine, but I've never initiated that either. My granddaughter's husband, who is very good at computer technology looked at my Time Machine app because he suspected that was the problem, but said he didn't find anything wrong.

I was hoping someone would respond with something like "Change this option, dummy", which I would welcome.
DiamondplateDave
Posts: 141
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2015 10:23 pm

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by DiamondplateDave »

Well, interesting problem. I did find somebody with the same problem (I think) on the Apple Forum:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8314628
So....yes, try making a new account and see if the problem occurs in the new account.
Avast, or other programs causing the problem...unlikely.
Safe mode? worth a try.
My half-a-guess is that the blank folder template has gotten replaced with your Desktop folder, although I have no idea if that is possible. You used to be able to "rebuild the Desktop" but that was....20 years ago. I have seen some odd Desktop problems, though. The Desktop folder is a system folder with a lot of special attributes.
As long as you have backups, you could try moving everything off the Desktop, making hidden files visible (not sure how to tell you to do that), and deleting the .plist or configuration files for the Desktop.
Here's a thread about the problem from 2013:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4841742
repair permissions is not an option these days, to my knowledge.
If you go to Finder->Home <cmd>+J, click on the "View Library Folder"checkbox, you can browse the Library folder.
You could try moving the files mentioned in the above thread...um, maybe not to the Desktop?
I think if you renamed them from .plist to .old that would work.
However, I'm guessing at this point. If it breaks your computer, I'm not paying for a new one :)
Please be cautious in downloading any free utilities, cleaners, etc, a few are OK but most are crap or worse.
penumbra
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Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by penumbra »

You have an interesting, complicated problem. I don’t have the answer. But I recently had a very complicated but related type of problem in my Photos application. I called Apple support, and spent a total of five hours with 2 experts who step by step, analyzed my problem, and had me make changes. Then I would call back a day or two later after those changes were made, and they would walk me through the next steps. At this point, it seems they’ve solved my problem. I’ve done the same a handful of times over the last 10 years and Apple support is more than amazing. And there is no additional charge. I am Not sure if you’ll be able to unravel this without high level expert help, but it is available and it is free. I would follow up and give that a try. In the process, you’ll be amazed at how many things you learn about how your system works, and at the end, not only do you have a Solved problem, but you have an increased appreciation for how to get things done. Good luck with the process!
boomer_techie
Posts: 439
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Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by boomer_techie »

vested1 wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 7:24 am The folders on the desktop didn't used to duplicate so I must have changed an option somewhere accidentally.
It sounds like you may have enabled one of the new features - one that autofills folders with the results of some sort of file search. Sorry, but I don't know how to enable or disable that option.

(I prefer Finder to work as it did circa 1984. I can't stand any of the new ways for it to work. I have the sidebar disabled, and have it set to open folders into a new window.)
Topic Author
vested1
Posts: 2263
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by vested1 »

DiamondplateDave wrote: Sat Sep 26, 2020 10:40 pm Well, interesting problem. I did find somebody with the same problem (I think) on the Apple Forum:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8314628
So....yes, try making a new account and see if the problem occurs in the new account.
Avast, or other programs causing the problem...unlikely.
Safe mode? worth a try.
My half-a-guess is that the blank folder template has gotten replaced with your Desktop folder, although I have no idea if that is possible. You used to be able to "rebuild the Desktop" but that was....20 years ago. I have seen some odd Desktop problems, though. The Desktop folder is a system folder with a lot of special attributes.
As long as you have backups, you could try moving everything off the Desktop, making hidden files visible (not sure how to tell you to do that), and deleting the .plist or configuration files for the Desktop.
Here's a thread about the problem from 2013:
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4841742
repair permissions is not an option these days, to my knowledge.
If you go to Finder->Home <cmd>+J, click on the "View Library Folder"checkbox, you can browse the Library folder.
You could try moving the files mentioned in the above thread...um, maybe not to the Desktop?
I think if you renamed them from .plist to .old that would work.
However, I'm guessing at this point. If it breaks your computer, I'm not paying for a new one :)
Please be cautious in downloading any free utilities, cleaners, etc, a few are OK but most are crap or worse.
Yes, I had read those discussions earlier and others as well, but no one with the same problem, to my knowledge, has come back and said, "That worked". There are many other MAC users who have checked the box "I have this problem too".

I'm cautious about moving folders and files around and deleting them because I don't know what I'm affecting when I do so. It's more likely that I would cause additional problems, and I'm humble (realistic) enough to admit it. I don't have Avast or any other cleaning program installed, nor do I have Norton, or any other virus protection program installed.

At this point I won't be adding any more shortcut folders to the desktop, but will add files to existing folders in Finder instead in order to curtail the confusion. When I do so I'll check the associated desktop folder to verify that the new file appears in the that folder, and in every folder on the desktop, which I assume will happen. I'll have to be extra cautious about deleting anything on the desktop until or unless this problem is resolved.

I don't pay for Apple support either, having been burned by Apple in the past and carrying a self-defeating grudge. That issue concerned their failure to inform me that there was a recall concerning a known issue on my previous 27" IMAC until after the recall had expired. Like my current IMAC, I bought that computer at the Apple Store, and not from a third party. That problem was worse, in that a known bad graphics card was causing the screen to go dark intermittently after a short amount of time. The technicians at the genius bar feigned ignorance as well, even though there was an active recall at the time, and charged me for the "repair", which worked until the graphics card heated back up at home.

Like most unskilled customers, I simply gave up and bought a new computer rather than continuing to pour money into a bottomless pit. I also have a Dell laptop running Windows 10, which currently has no problems, knock on wood.
Topic Author
vested1
Posts: 2263
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: New Folders on Desktop Duplicating Files

Post by vested1 »

Update:

This problem was resolved when I moved a JPEG from the desktop to a folder. The picture was one that I had shared often so I had left it on the desktop out of laziness and ease of access. I had even made it my desktop background, and looking back that is apparently when the duplication process began. As soon as I moved the photo from the desktop the background changed to my previous one, and the duplication stopped. All remaining folders on the desktop, which are few, only have their original files in them now.

FWIW, the picture was one of my wife holding a huge catfish that she had just caught, held at arm's length. She'd never heard a catfish "talk" before (they make croaking noises when out of the water) and her eyes were like saucers with her mouth caught in the middle of a scream. There was nothing wrong with the photo, which was taken with an Iphone. I verified that after the problem was resolved by reopening the photo from the folder and checking the desktop folders on the desktop to make sure the problem didn't recur.

I may be wrong, but something about changing your background with a picture located only on the desktop likely caused the problem.
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