Making Nice with .DS_Store

One thing that’s become abundantly apparent during this long, disease-vectored sequester we all seem to be on is that this time represents a wonderful opportunity to get the kind of frank, honest feedback about ourselves that only our nearest and dearest can bestow. And when I mean “bestow” I mean “crush all illusions about how you are perceived by the people who are around you the most.”

Two things that I’m being educated on of late are that I am not as amusing as I think and I am I’m also fussy about things in ways that are frequently incompatible with other people. Not in big, interesting ways (I mean, I’m not a monster), but in small, frustrating ways. I like my coffee very specifically made from one very specific coffee shop that my coffee friends look down on as being The Bad Coffee Shop, and will ruthlessly subvert and hijack plans so that said Bad Coffee Shop ends up being our ultimate destination. Being masked and gloved and PPE’d and socially distanced hasn’t changed that – it’s just made it more apparent and troublesome.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I know that the Bad Coffee Shop is secretly the Best Coffee Shop. I’m capable of sustaining the position that my way is really the only correct way, even while cheerfully acknowledging that said position is, in fact, tangibly incorrect. I call it the “Grand Irrefutable Theory of Self Deception™” because it’s my flaw and the very least I should be able to do is name the wretched thing.

Take Finder views, for example. I like them when they look like this:

This is the way you should be.

…because the Column view is clearly superior, and everyone should look at their files that way. It’s so much better! You can zip up and down directory hierarchies quickly and simply! I’m right!

Not everyone feels that way – mostly because of the afore-mentioned “Grand Irrefutable Theory of” etc. Some people (philistines and malcontents in the main) prefer the old fashioned icon view, thus:


It’s unfortunate that some of us have to work with these poor, misguided folks, but there’s no reason why you should have to put up with their ham-fisted insanity when there’s a better way.

Your Mac knows how you like your files positioned and your preferred view and retains that information in tiny, invisible files that it creates in each directory you access. These files are .DS_Store files, where “DS” stands for “Desktop Services”. They’re difficult to open and inspect, but once you crack one open and took a look it’s clear that they contain information about the window’s position on screen, the window view, icon size, relative position inside the window, the status and visibility of the window bar icons, the sidebar, backgrounds, snap-to-grid, stacks and so on and so forth. Whenever you change view or move something around those changes are update in the .DS_Store file so that next time you open that window it appears exactly the way you left it.

Which is great if it’s your computer, but not so great if it’s a share on a server that is also accessed by nincompoops and dunderheaded ne’er-do-wells who prefer icon view for some insane, incalculable reason, because the moment they open that window they see your (superb, intelligent, morally-superior) layout and not their stupid mess. And then they change it to reflect the way they like to do things and then when you open it again it’s all awful and you have to step away and go lie down in a dark, cool room for a while.

Happily, there’s a way to tell your computer to not make those .DS_Store files, which locks in as default the nonsensical, asinine way that your idiot colleagues and co-workers like to use their stuff – simply fire up the Terminal and enter the following:

defaults write DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

Once you’ve done that then your colleagues will be able to set up the way they view those files according to whatever the inchoate voices in their heads tell them to, and you won’t have to put up with that. Instead, the next time that you access that folder you’ll be able to set the view appropriately. Like the misunderstood genius that you are. Right? Right.

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