Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Recover from a screensaver preference crash System
I configured my Preferences so that the Slide Show screen saver showed the folder in which I store desktop backgrounds. Somehow it was screwed up (folder moved or something?) and every time I tried to access the screen saver preferences, the Preferences App crashed. Very annoying and very little you can do about it. It was not possible to change any setting, because as soon as the Screen Saver part of the preferences was shown it just quit.

But as a former Linux geek I'm used to things not working and things that need tweaking, so I created another user, logged in with that user and changed the screen saver settings. Then with Sherlock I searched for all files changed today. I found an interesting file in Library/Preferences/ByHost called*.plist. It's an XML file containing the screen saver settings.

Then I logged in again with my regular user, opened the Finder and opened the same file for my regular user. By double clicking, the 'Propery ListEditor' launched, with which I could change the properties in this file. There are two properties, moduleName and modulePath. For moduleName I filled in 'Beach' and for modulePath I filled in '/System/Library/Screen Savers/Beach.slideSaver' (which I copied from the other user).

Now when I open the Preferences app and look at the screen saver, it doesn't crash anymore, even when I select the slide show.

[Editor's note: I believe I also fixed this same problem once by simply trashing any preference file I found that had "screensaver" in its name. The above is a more elegant solution ;-). In addition, if you have a bad module that's causing the crash, this problem will continue to occur until you remove the offending module from ~/Library/Screen Savers.]
  • Currently 3.33 / 5
  You rated: 2 / 5 (3 votes cast)

Recover from a screensaver preference crash | 7 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Recover from a screensaver preference crash' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Good Tip
Authored by: ridmaur on Apr 25, '02 08:07:12AM

Great info. I had the Technichron screen saver 0.4 installed and it suddenly started to crash the Screen Saver module. So, I removed the screen saver and selected another one (it was not crashing anymore after I removed the technichron.saver file). But when I reinstalled the Technichron.saver file, the problem reappeared. By killing these plist files, I've solved the crashing of the Screen Save module....

[ Reply to This | # ]
Good Tip
Authored by: iPanda on Apr 26, '02 03:33:10AM

You're welcome! It was a very annoying problem, with the screen blinking, because every time the screen saver kicked in it exitted immediately.

[ Reply to This | # ]
FYI - Preferences/ByHost
Authored by: a1291762 on Apr 25, '02 06:24:20PM

The ByHost folder contains host-specific preferences. Since you can share an OS X profile among many computers, there are things that are only going to be on some machines (such as screensavers installed in /Library).

OS X originally used the hostname as part of the preferences file name (meaning that changing your hostname "killed" your preferences) but Apple fixed that somewhere (10.1 maybe?) so it now has some kind of serial number.

[ Reply to This | # ]
FYI - Preferences/ByHost
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Feb 07, '08 02:40:19AM

That "serial number" is the address of the Mac's primary Ethernet port (en0), known as the Ethernet ID or MAC (Media Access Control) address, which is a number unique to each Mac. It's also visible at System Preferences -> Network -> Ethernet.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: bhines on Apr 25, '02 06:26:27PM

You can also just use the fs_usage command. This will show you what files are being accessed.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Recover from a desktop preference crash
Authored by: rrrus on May 01, '03 04:41:09AM

I recently encountered a similar situation, for the second time.
The situation is where the Desktop preference pane gets in a
mode where it won't come up without crashing system

The workaround I had discovered the first time was to either
empty or rename the "/Library/Desktop Pictures" folder so that
the Desktop pref pane couldn't find it anymore. I eventually
fixed this issue by reinstalling Mac OS X. I did the reinstall
because Norton had so completely hosed up my system that it
became unusable, not because the Desktop pref pane crashed.
At the time I blamed it on Norton.

Tonight, I had my PowerBook G3 Pismo hooked up to my TV via
s-video, with the s-video port on, and the LCD off, by plugging
in s-video and a USB mouse. The USB mouse wakes it up, it
realizes the lid is closed, and only activates external video, but
not internal. Natually, the screen size shrunk, but the desktop
image was the same. I then put it back to sleep when I was
done watching DVDs. When I woke it up the next time is when
this problem occurred.

It woke up from sleep with a plain blue background, not my
desktop picture. Openning the Desktop preference pane then
revealed the crash.

Following the lead from this tip, I did a search, using find, for
files recently modified. I'm not sure which did it, but I deleted
the following:


The desktop.plist was obvious, but didn't work on its own.
systempreferences.plist had a reference to my personal desktop
pictures folder, and the Caches/Desktop folder contained files
named similarly to images that I've used for desktops.

At any rate... deleting those three things alleviated the


[ Reply to This | # ]
desktop admin jpegs
Authored by: ken k on Apr 23, '10 10:32:20AM

Our desktop is loaded with 4000 items mostly jepgs. My son dragged these into the desktop to send them to a flash drive, The Mac locked up, so he shut it off. Now wken we boot up there is no desktop. It's in the admin file.
Also can't delete any of the jepgs or move them to trash, a message saying there being used by another app. We went to the Mac store yesterday, they moved some apps around and said to reinstall osx 10.4 and archive old files. Did this today, but It did not fix . Help please ken

[ Reply to This | # ]