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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5 Desktop
This is not a hint per se, more of a cautionary tale, but I figured it might be useful to somebody out there. A few weeks ago, I updated my wife's copmuter to Leopard. It's a 1.4GHz PowerBook; certainly not the fastest machine around, but should keep her company another couple of years.

When it came up after the first reboot, it was slow. Incredibly slow. It was unusable. Whenever I switched to the Finder, I'd get the spinning beachball, and then everything ground to a halt. I reinstalled -- same problem. Then I had an inspiration: my wife is hopeless with keeping order on her computer. All files that she uses, downloads, gets sent via mail, etc. end up on her desktop -- and there were more than 600 of them there at the moment.

In Tiger, this was merely an aesthetic problem. In Leopard however, the live preview feature means that the computer has to generate a preview for every file. And since the Desktop is visible whenever you look at a Finder window, the Finder had to use a huge amout of processing power to generate 600 previews ... which basically rendered it unusable. So I simply switched to the Terminal and issued this command:
mv ~/Desktop/* ~/Downloads/
That moved all files from the Desktop to the new Downloads folder. After that, the computer immediately became responsive again, and our marriage was saved!
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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: squalene on Jan 17, '08 07:36:09AM

I suppose turning live preview off is not an option?
Oh well, it's just one more thing to be aware of.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: meikokun on Jan 18, '08 04:01:53AM

whilst everything that has been said about desktop icons being a draw on resources is true, it must not be forgotten that as soon as one installs either tiger or leopard, the system grinds to a halt indexing itself for spotlight. Why apple implemented it in this fashion rather than wait for a period of inactivity is beyond me - if nothing else it's bad marketing to have someone install an OS, only to find one can't use it, or it's MUCH slower than the cranky OS one was using an hour ago. And who does a clean install only to immediately start looking for files? ok, you over in the corner there might, but the rest of us are still playing with our shiny 'new computer' (reality distortion field in full effect)
I'm inclined to think that a large part of the snappiness seen after thinking about the problem and then clearing the desktop is probably due to coincidence of timing, around the time the poster was clearing the desktop, mds had finally finished doing it's thing. If you are REALLY bored, try it again - and next time open the activity monitor, and see what is taking up the cpu.
Oh yeah, BUY MORE RAM! My g4 1.5 powerbook is now begging for mercy with its once copious 1 gig of ram (oh, for the heady days of 2004). As has been mentioned, icons love ram.
Cheers
dd



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: meikokun on Jan 19, '08 06:15:54AM

just as an experiment, I created over 1500 files on the desktop - yes, I'm *that* bored on a gloomy saturday - and after the initial few mins at 100% cpu, on my 1.5ghz G4 powerbook with 1 gig of ram, with just the finder and safari open, I have 11% (avg) cpu load. The window server initially was using 350 megs of ram, but that has now dropped to 80. The finder is as spritely as it was before in leopard, which I must say isn't as good as tiger, but that's a topic for another thread.
Shoving that lot in the trash took less than 3 secs. So, I'd say it's not just desktop icons that's eating all the cpu, if they were in the beginning.
So, in sum, I'd say a little patience is all that's required after installing, if you really need to have all those icons out, but I think the consensus is right that it's best to get them off the desktop into other folders. For what it's worth, I try not to have more than twelve icons in any one folder (except where absolutely necessary) - the desktop also being a folder of course, preferring to nest them hierarchically, and I only have that many due to me running a business from the computer, and I like to have a monthly structure to quotes and invoices etc. Also, since I access the file system at my office remotely with AFP, it's much quicker to drill down through nested folders of ten or so icons than wait for one with 300 icons to load, then pick and choose. KDX is brilliant for remote access, even if you do lose metadata in the transfer process.

give the 1500 files a try, and see how you get on. Unless of course it isn't raining where you are ;)
cheers



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: MJCube on Jan 17, '08 07:41:05AM

You can also select the Desktop and change the View Options to disable icon previews.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: kerouassady on Jan 17, '08 07:49:32AM

As a desktop support professional, ridiculously messy desktops have been a small thorn in my side forever. Creating a default downloads directory is, I'll admit, one of my favorite changes in Leopard. I thought this was just an implementation to encourage user tidiness but given how Quick View works, the Downloads directory may have been more intentional to avoid performance problems that the average user may not be able to deal with if they are like most of my users and just download crap constantly to their desktop and never clean up after themselves.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: Fairly on Jan 20, '08 09:07:46AM

This is good insight. Thanks!



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: simonpie on Jan 17, '08 08:03:46AM

I must report that I had this problem in Tiger too. When ever I copied by mistakes 100 files or so on the desktop, the finder was becoming totally useless. I had to use terminal to move the files elsewhere. And yes, I had the icon preview for my desktop enabled.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: bcamp1973 on Jan 17, '08 08:12:30AM

My wife does the same thing. maybe we should start a support group?



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: michaelnatter on Jan 17, '08 09:35:37AM

I agree the addition of a dedicated Downloads folder was a very welcomed addition (get on board Firefox).

I believe I also read somewhere on this site that OSX handles icons on the desktop as individual windows thus adding an additional burden to your system. So that would explain the extreme slowdown when the desktop gets over-populated.

You can demonstrate this to your clients/friends/people who believe in a cluttered desktop by doing the Shift-Command-4 (then hitting space bar) trick. It highlights entire windows for screenshots. If you then move your camera cursor over desktop icons you will see it highlights those also…while it doesn't highlight icons inside of other windows.

All of this is not to mention the fact that the Desktop tends to corrupt first (and worst) in all of the crash situations I have ever encountered (excluding, of course, Microsoft's Entourage Database).

So keep that Desktop top lean!



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: lar3ry on Jan 17, '08 10:29:14AM

Firefox is quite able to download to the Downloads folder as well. The option is right there in Preferences in the Main tab.

If you don't like Preferences, you can use about:config and search for "download" to see all the options you can tailor with regard to downloads.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: morespace54 on Jan 21, '08 01:43:26PM

Yes but I think he was talking about a default "Download to the Download Folder" option in FF for OS X...

Of course, you can do it by yourself in prefs, just like you can change the default Safari (or Mail or whatever) downloads location.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: luomat on Jan 17, '08 09:49:40AM

If you want to go radical

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false

and restart Finder and your Desktop will now show nothing except your background picture.

defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true

will revert the behavior.

This helped break me of my Desktop habit. I had actually made a ~/Downloads/ in Tiger. Glad they took my suggestion for Leopard :-)




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Applescript to hide desktop icons
Authored by: Gnarlodious on Jan 17, '08 10:14:52AM
http://Gnarlodious.com/Computer/Applescript

-- if no such value exists, create it
try
do shell script "defaults read com.apple.finder CreateDesktop"
on error
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true"
end try

-- toggle the existing value
if (do shell script "defaults read com.apple.finder CreateDesktop" as string) = "1" then
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool false"
else
do shell script "defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool true"
end if

delay 1

-- quit and reactivate the Finder to use the new preferences.
tell application "Finder" to quit
delay 1
tell application "Finder" to activate

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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: jecwobble on Jan 17, '08 11:55:53AM

The first thing I did when I moved to OS X from OS 8 eight years ago was to create my own Downloads folder and adjust all app preferences accordingly. Do most people just left the default download location of Desktop? I can barely tollerate half a dozen things on my desktop, let alone hundreds...



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: hypnopixel on Jan 17, '08 10:06:39AM

caution!

mv is destructive; it will overwrite existing files.

try mv -n first to get the lionshare moved.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: Hodag on Jan 17, '08 11:12:24AM

Can you turn Live Preview off? It would be really handy if you could.

---
--
Adam C.



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Desktop "Windows"
Authored by: jediknil on Jan 17, '08 11:18:18AM

It's probably worse because each icon on the Desktop is actually a window. It's a quirk of how OS X's graphics system works, but it adds more overhead than you'd think.

My brother is this way too; he ends up creating "Old Desktop" folders and dragging everything in for the sake of cleanup.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: chabig on Jan 17, '08 12:08:13PM

Why go to the terminal for a GUI task? Just Select All and drag them to the destination of your choice.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: Dibbler on Jan 17, '08 12:30:36PM

You try doing that when Finder is being sluggish because you have 600+ files on your desktop.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: leamanc on Jan 17, '08 06:30:36PM

Exactly. That's the whole point of this hint: your Finder is so bogged down that you can't use it.

I suggest all OS X users keep the Terminal in the Dock and learn to do simple operations like this. There has been less need for this in comparison to the 10.1 and 10.2 days, but it's still handy to have for:

File manipulation when the Finder is borked for whatever reason;

Killing apps or processes (assuming you can't Force Quit or open/use Activity Monitor);

Sending a sudo reboot when things are truly hosed.

I think I'm going to submit to Apple as a feature suggestion that the Force Quit window have buttons to open Activity Monitor or Terminal (or at least run a command). Being able to dump the GUI and log into a text console (like in other *NIXes) is probably too much to ask. :-)

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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: robogobo on Jan 17, '08 04:20:17PM

nobody has said this yet, so let me be the first....

600 items?!?!!!!!! that must be a record. I complain when my wife has 50 items.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: Anonymous on Jan 17, '08 07:56:51PM

There are a few really annoying things like this in Leopard - the one that annoyed me post so far is:
I downloaded two fairly large PDF's (A few hundred pages each) on another machine. I transfered them via a USB drive, shoving them somewhere in the Documents folder, closed the laptop lid and went to bed.

The next day, I started the laptop up and started using it. For some reason the CPU usage was about 50-70%. "ATServer" and "mdworker" were using a lot of CPU, and made the laptop around 70*c.
Confused, I started running commands like 'ps auxwww | grep mdworker' to find out what it was doing. Eventually "lsof | grep mdworker" revealed it was indexing the two PDF's I had downloaded.

There was *no* visual feedback these files were being indexed. Nothing in the spotlight (like when the drive is being initially indexed), nothing in System Preferences. Just an increasingly hot and slow laptop..
Since I was actually trying to use the l laptop at the time, I ended up archiving the two PDF's in a .zip, which stops the indexing, and extracted them when the laptop was idle..



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: jpkang on Jan 17, '08 10:59:14PM
I tend to have a lot of clutter on my desktop, too, and I recently tried and liked Hazel, which is a rule-based file housekeeping system (e.g., auto-delete duplicate files, color files after a set time period, auto-file downloads by source domain or filename, etc.). Maybe worth a try?

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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: dan pearson on Jan 18, '08 07:12:02PM

yes, i've had a Downloads folder and a Desktop Clutter folder for years. was happy that Leopard accepted my existing Downloads folder for its use.



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10.5: A cautionary tale on overloaded Desktops in 10.5
Authored by: Fairly on Jan 20, '08 09:05:42AM

That's a tip?



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Firefox downloads on desktop
Authored by: jessica1988 on Mar 19, '08 11:14:13AM

I've changed the option for 'download to' in the preferences. Everytime I look it says it's downloading to the 'downloads' folder, which is what I want, except that it is still putting everything on the desktop. With all the torrents and everything that I download it's a huge inconvenience and it makes my desktop so cluttered. I searched the problem on google and someone had said to change the preferences in safari as well as firefox. Well, I did that, and nothing has changed. I really want it to quit doing this. Can someone please help me?



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