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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders! Desktop
I've just discovered a potentially nasty behaviour of the Finder's Find dialog when used in "Specific Places" mode. I wanted to remove a specific place where I had been looking for something before. There are buttons for Add and Remove on the Find panel, but instead of using the Add button, I usually add folders to search with a drag and drop from Finder.

So, this time I just, instead of clicking and using the Remove button, I dragged the folder I no longer wanted to search and dropped it to the Trash. In this case, it was my user's Library folder. To my surprise, I didn't see usual "puff." To my horror, my entire Library folder was now in my Trash!! I managed to do Command-Z quickly, but still haven't logged out/in, and now my Safari doesn't make new tab on Command-T.

[robg adds: I tested this on a duplicated folder, and it's definitely a problem -- you're not really in trouble until you empty the trash, of course, but if you don't know about this behavior... This is a very bad design choice, in my opinion. I don't think an action in a Find dialog box should affect the 'real' instance of the folder. This is particularly true given Apple's use of the trash can in other aspects where it is "non-lethal" (dragging a disk image to the trash ejects it, but doesn't erase it from your hard drive). The moral of the story is: Use the Remove button in the Find dialog, at least until or unless Apple changes this behavior.]
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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders! | 19 comments | Create New Account
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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: FunkDaddy on Sep 29, '04 01:32:39PM

"Safari doesn't make new tab on Command-T"

Soounds like Safari was open during all this, just recheck the checkbox in prefs...



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: zpjet on Sep 29, '04 06:25:27PM

yes it was unchecked. i was actually surprised that safari recreated its preferences during the session. i thought preferences are read/written only when opening/closing apps?



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: zpjet on Sep 29, '04 06:45:41PM

actually, i had a hard time for a few seconds with a prospect of loosing my prefs/mails/keychain that i'm not very sure what was happening just after... i just did command-z immediately and thought everything's okay. then i noticed command-t is not working and i knew, that"s"word, it's NOT okay. i opened my home folder and the library one was plain folder icon with a few folders inside (caches, cookies and preferences with a few plists of running apps). then i noticed the right library folder (with colored icon) is on desktop (?) so i moved the new one to somewhere and the old one to the right place. then i logged off... fortunately, everything is okay.

but i would appreciate somebody explains how apps and/or filesystem behaves when opening files for writing... does it always just create a new file? was it different in system 9? i think i remember moving text file around a disk and still saving to the same one.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: joshewah on Sep 29, '04 01:35:54PM

I actually use this feature when I am looking for preference files or doubles of things. You can high light what you want to delete after you get your find results and then hit command-delete and the results in the finder change location to the trash (you can see it on the bottom)



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: LoonyPandora on Sep 29, '04 02:54:54PM
I think you are describing the search results section - this hint refers to search options window, where you select which volumes/folders you wish to search in. I've just tested this myself, and it is indeed a very bad design choice, that will hopefully get rectified soon

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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: Azark on Sep 29, '04 06:02:29PM

You're right, it's seems most people in the comments think it's about the result window, and in that case it's a normal behavior.
It's a weird design to act like that in the search window...

But anyway, I don't understand why put a folder in the trash to remove it. Why doesn't he just hit backspace?

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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: zpjet on Sep 29, '04 06:33:12PM

everything in the world has a purpose. look, if i "just" hit a backspace or "just" clicked the remove button, i wouldn't discover this bad behavior.

i did it quite subconsciously. i usually or even always drag folders in, don't you? so once i "just" dragged folder out.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: jiclark on Sep 29, '04 03:30:38PM

Not to be contrary, but why does this behavior surprise anyone? You've dragged a folder to the trash; where did you expect it to actually go? Just like in a normal Finder window, if you drag something other than a disk to the Trash, that's where it goes! While I agree that you should be able to drag a folder out of the window and have it just *poof* disappear, I don't see anything odd in dragging a folder to the trash and having it be moved there. No one here is suggesting that you shouldn't be able to trash anything from the Find window, are you?



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: Faux Plastic on Sep 29, '04 05:48:38PM

Yes they are suggesting you shouldn't be able to trash anything from the Find window. I'm not a computer scientist, so pardon my less-than-technical terminology, but there is a difference in the Mac UI between firsthand representation of a file and secondhand representation of a file. Firsthand representation would be the file icon in a regular Finder window. In iTunes, it would be a song listing in the Library.

Secondhand representation would be a song in an iTunes playlist or an item in the Finder sidebar or anything in the Dock. I would include search places in Finder's Find window in this secondhand representation category. If I want to see a volume, for example, I would got to it with a normal Finder window, not Finder's Find feature. In the case of secondhand representations, the normal response when you pull something off of the seach places list and put it in the trash is that it will simply be removed from the list because it is only a list of secondhand represenations. The song is removed from the playlist, but not from the library. The app is removed from the dock, but not from the Applications folder. The folder is removed from the sidebar but not trashed. And so on.

The point being is that this is indeed a poor design. If you want to delete a file or folder, the proper method within Finder is to go to the file firsthand representation in a regular Finder window, not in the Find window.

I guess it could be a matter of opinion, but that's how I see it.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: zpjet on Sep 29, '04 07:04:06PM

thanks, faux. your comparison with the sidebar is exactly what i mean.

move folder from a finder window to trash - it goes to trash. move folder from a sidebar to the trash - it "poofs".

another analogy is that clicking "remove" or pressing "delete" should equal to moving to trash, shouldn't it? at least it is so in many apps (e.g. mentioned iTunes'es playlists).



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Please read the hint carefully-- this not about the 'results' pane!
Authored by: schaps on Sep 30, '04 09:08:43AM

I can't believe what I am reading here. I now know what happened to two folders I used to keep on my desktop to pile stuff into. I unfortunately overwrote my backup before I noticed them gone, but PLEASE READ this hint carefully-- it is not about trashing files that show up in the results section of the search pane-- it's about Find's ability to add just certain folders to its search 'places' window, so you don't have to search a whole hard drive when you know a file is just in specific directory. Then, if you later decide don't need that specific place to search any longer, you can remove it from your special search places-- but now I see if I drag it off, it deletes that whole directory. This is a terrble shock to me. Of course you should be able to delete files in the results section, but not directories in the search section!

I am quite sure you could drag search places off the search window in OS 9.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: johnsawyercjs on Oct 01, '04 12:47:08AM

I think you've said it in a nutshell: "Of course you should be able to delete files in the results section, but not directories in the search section!"

It's really as simple as that.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: davidwb45133 on Sep 30, '04 11:47:49AM

The first time I added a search location I too tried dragging it to the find dialog and since that worked I also tried dragging it off. The first attempt failed because I simply dragged it out of the dialog - sorta like dragging something out of the dock. When that didn't work I tried dragging it to the trash. That worked...then I began to wonder about it. I discovered that directory was in the trash. That behavior sorta made sense and sorta didn't. I posted a feedback to Apple about it.

The dock (in my mind at least) has created an explected behavior. To remove an option drag it out and it poofs. That is what I think should happen with the find dialog.



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that's what so annoying about this!
Authored by: schaps on Sep 30, '04 12:51:59PM

It is inconsistent! I am getting pissed, because I see now how I deleted the folders I needed.

Try this-- create a folder on your desktop, call it "test folder" or something similar.

CMD-F to bring up the search dialog. Adjust "Search in" to say "Specific Places", if it doesn't already (That is my default mode)-- most flexible.

Drag your newly created "test folder" into the Specific Places window. Now, if you uncheck your other disk(s), you will be able to search for some file only in that folder. It is very slick, especially when you manage a lot of folders and files.

(Note: the finder-integrated search box in OS X is great for this, too, but you need to have the folder open to search it. With Find, you can have a deeply nested folder on your search list and just check mark it when you want to search that folder-- no need to open it.)

Now, here is the inconsistency: When you search, a new Search Results window opens. If you want to delete a file or folder found in those results, you can either select the item and press CMD-delete or drag the item to the trash. And then it remains in your Results window, but it shows its location as the Trash with EITHER procedure.

But in the Specific Places window, if you select the search folder you no longer want to search and then press CMD-delete or click "Remove," that removes it from the search pane, but does not disturb the folder. HOWEVER, if you drag the folder out of the Specific Places window to the trash, it REMAINS in the Specific Places window, but the Finder actually DELETES the folder to the trash (try it with a test folder, you'll see). It's behavior is not only not like the Dock, it's not even like the Search Results window! Apple apparently intended that we all click the "Remove" button to remove a Search In item, but with all the drag-drop, drag-poof stuff in OS X, why would they not think of this?

This is likely how I lost my important folders. I dragged the item I was finished searching out of the Specific Places window to the desktop, and it didn't go Poof. So, the sixteen-year Mac veteran I am dragged the search folder icon from the Specific Places window to the trash-- and there probably was a trash "click," but I probably had the volume down, so I did not notice that I had just deleted my actual folders, because the icons remained in the Specific Places window! I probably then clicked Remove to remove the icon, but by then it was too late-- my folders were gone. I wonder if this could happen with a whole disk?

Bad Apple!



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that's what so annoying about this!
Authored by: stetner on Sep 30, '04 06:15:38PM

It is logical, by dragging the folder to the trash, you have not said I want to remove this search item, you have said I want to move this folder to the trash.

You can still search on it there, so it is not removed from the 'places'.



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that's what so annoying about this!
Authored by: schaps on Sep 30, '04 06:47:07PM

Perhaps it's logical to you, but I still use OS 9 on one of my machines, and using Sherlock 2, the OS 9 Find which is quite similar to OS X's, if you want to remove a Search location, you either drag it to the trash or CMD-delete. There is no remove button, and hitting delete alone does nothing. In short, this is not only different behavior, it's dangerously different.

Whether or not one is used to the concept of dragging things to the Trash to just "disable" them, not get rid of them, it has been part of the Mac UI since at least the late 80s to eject floppies and CDs and unmount network and local drives.



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that's what so annoying about this!
Authored by: zpjet on Oct 04, '04 07:57:18PM

i'm sorry that you'd lost your files. i was near to loose my library folder with all my mail at least.

i'm glad that more people get the point. the behaviour of the list of specific places is very bad. i've just set up a test account and, guess what, it even let me to drag and delete the home directory!

the drag-delete also unmounts disks. it doesn't unmount the disks which are in use, such as startup disk. i think this is where the design started, as the disks appear dynamically.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: baltwo on Sep 30, '04 03:09:24PM

I must be missing the point. In Find window, Specific places selected, I can drag items into the window and they're added to the list. Select that item, hit delete key, and they're removed, WITHOUT anything going to the trash.



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Warning - the Find box can delete source folders!
Authored by: schaps on Sep 30, '04 03:35:43PM

Paraphrasing what I wrote above:
If you drag the folder out of the Specific Places window to the trash, it REMAINS in the Specific Places window, but the Finder actually puts the folder to the trash.

I am not saying everyone would do this, but it's against the normal behavior of the Mac interface, and if you can't actually see the folder disappear, and you can't hear the familiar 'to the trash' sound due to volume being down or other noise, you've just lost that folder. There should AT LEAST be a warning.

T



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