What is your desktop file?
The desktop file is an invisible file, actually a database, that keeps track of the location of every file and folder that is on the Macintosh hard drive. As files are moved around, items deleted, and folders created, the Mac adds information to the desktop file, but never deletes entries previously made in the database. Also, when "surfing" the internet, the web browser collects every page that was visited and caches it on to the hard drive. The desktop file keeps track of all of these little files too.
Why rebuild the desktop file?
The more files that are created, moved and deleted, the larger the desktop file grows. As a result operation of the computer gets slower because the Mac is struggling to "remember" what is currently stored in each folder. The only way to shrink the desktop file and keep the Mac up to speed is to rebuild the desktop file. Newer Macs may not show noticeable slow down from an unwieldy desktop file, but it is still a good habit to routinely rebuild the desktop once a month.
In order to rebuild to desktop file restart the Mac while pressing the Option and Command keys (the Command key has the apple icon). However, because some startup files may interrupt the desktop rebuilding process, which will result in totally garbled desktop, it is recommended to reboot the Mac with Extensions off. The procedure of rebooting with Extensions off is described below.
Important!: Turning the Extensions off and rebuilding the desktop needs to be done during the startup cycle.
- Reboot The Mac.
- After the startup chime sounds press and hold the SHIFT key until the a message "Extensions off" shows up on the screen.
- Immediatly release the SHIFT key and Press and hold the Option and Command (Apple) keys.
- Keep holding the Option and Command keys until the "Are you sure you want to rebuild the Desktop file on the disk?" dialog box appears.
- Release the keys and click "OK".
- The progress bar will appear and the process of rebuilding the Desktop File will begin. It may take several minutes depending in the size and speed of the hard disk and the number of files on it.
- Click "OK" when finished.
- After the Mac finishes booting it will need to be restarted again to have it boot up into normal working mode, remember the Extensions were turned off!
Last update December 22, 2004
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