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What to Do:

Rebuilding Basics

The basic procedure for rebuilding the desktop was described in Chapter 2 (in the section called "Give Your Macintosh a Tune-Up"). I explain it in more detail here.

  1. Hold down the Command and Option keys at startup To rebuild the Desktop file on the startup disk (or any other disk mounted at startup), hold down the Command and Option keys during the startup sequence until you see an alert box asking Are you sure you want to rebuild the desktop file on the disk <name of disk>?.

    To rebuild the Desktop file on any other disk, at any time, hold down the Command and Option keys prior to mounting the disk. For example, for a floppy disk, do it just prior to inserting the disk. If you want to rebuild the Desktop file on a floppy disk (or other removable media) that is already mounted, eject the disk using the Put Away command from the Finder's File menu. Then reinsert the disk while holding down the Command and Option keys. In all cases, wait for the alert box message to appear before releasing the keys.

    Note that, when rebuilding the desktop at startup, the message asking you whether you want to rebuild will not appear until after all startup extensions have loaded. If you have a lot of extensions, this can take a while. Be patient. Actually, you don't even have to hold down the Command-Option keys until the end of the extension loading sequence approaches.

    When running Mac OS 9's Multiple Users, the rebuilding the desktop message does not appear until after you have logged in, so don't bother holding down the keys until then. In fact, you can use this feature to rebuild the Desktop without restarting: Log out of your Multiple Users account and log back in; hold down the Command-Option keys while logging in and the option to rebuild the Desktop will appear. However, with limited or panel access, you will not be able to rebuild the Desktop at all.

    • SEE Chapter 15 for more on this Mac OS 9 feature.

    Figure F8-2. Alert box that appears when you hold down the Command-Option keys to rebuild the desktop.

  2. Click OK to the alert box message Click the alert box's OK button and wait. A progress bar should appear, monitoring the rebuilding process. In a few minutes the Desktop file is rebuilt, and the progress bar disappears. You are done.

    If you have more than one volume (such as two drives or one drive with multiple partitions) that gets mounted at startup, you get a separate message request for each disk. Click OK just for the volumes you want to rebuild. You do not have to rebuild all of them. However I have occasionally fixed an icon display problem on my internal hard drive by rebuilding the desktop of my external hard drive. This might happen, for example, if a document on my internal drive was created by an application on my external drive. It usually pays to rebuild all regularly mounted volumes if you are having problems.

    BY THE WAY — Rebuilding the Desktop on Potentially Damaged Disks

    Just a reminder: if you plan to rebuild the desktop because of symptoms that suggest file damage on the disk, it is a good idea to first run Disk First Aid or a similar utility to check for and repair possible Directory damage (see Fix-It #10). Otherwise, there is a slim chance that rebuilding the Desktop can make things worse.

    In this regard, note that the Desktop is not the primary method by which the Macintosh keeps track of the contents of disks. The Directory is far more critical for this task. Only the Finder needs the desktop.

  3. Restart again if needed Restarting may be required to get correct icons to appear. This is especially likely for Desktop files rebuilt at times other than during startup.



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