Half-kingdom for the Desktop

» 21 June 2006 » In Tech »

Last week was the first time I had to do a hard shutdown on my Powerbook. It was a strange feeling. There I was, doing something that used to be a regular occurrence in the Windows world, and now it really bothered me that I had to hold down the Power button for 5 seconds and wait for my Mac to commit temporary suicide. And I was apprehensive for a good reason.
After powering back up, I discovered that my desktop (lowercase) was gone. No icons, and I could not drag anything to the background at all. I still had ~/Desktop folder but it seemed to be disconnected from the actual display. No one I asked about this has encountered the problem before, but I had a hunch it had to do with a corrupted preference file or something similar.
After much muckying around (creating a new user, making sure its desktop was operational, running Preferential Treatment over all .plist files, doing a binary sieve on the .plists to find the offending one) I narrowed it down to com.apple.finder.plist. A bit more yahoo’ing revealed that the culprit was a “secret” preference called CreateDesktop. If set to false, it tells Finder not to display the desktop. Brilliant. Somehow this got turned off during the hard shutdown and my desktop got lost at sea. Anyways, if you ever get sick of your Desktop (or want to restore it, like I did), you can change the setting via:
defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop -bool <false or true>
Until later. I am going to go click on all the icons.
UPDATE: Fixed the HTML escaping of the command (the bool arguments were hidden).

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