Folder Views

in macOS edited January 2014
Okay, hopefully this issue isn't just something that's wrong with my system; otherwise this spiel is going to make me look like an idiot. But hopefully I'm writing about a real problem. And hopefully you haven't discussed it a million times before.

Knowing OS X is a multi-user system, I expected that each user would be able to set their own preferences for how to view a given folder, regardless of whether they're able to write to it. In my experience, however, this hasn't been the case. Users with write access to a folder dictate the view and organisation that folder to other users.

This is a difficult situation, since although the concepts of a folder's contents and the folder's view are clearly separated in the interface, the system seems to be such that they are not separated in the implementation. I haven't checked this out entirely, but I'm guessing that the view of a folder is contained in the folder itself and is therefore subject to the same access restrictions as the folder. The user then needs write access to essentially read the folder in a different way.

The Finder's interface is done right in itself, but paired with the implementation, it becomes wrong. Users with read-only access are able to customise a folder's view temporarily, but changes are regularly lost without explanation. This doesn't make sense from the user's point of view.

It seems the only way that keeps a user's view preferences with the user is to keep a database of them in the user's home folder. The problem is, that database would get irritatingly big and easily become incorrect, filled with information for volumes and folders that no longer exist, and missing view information for any folder that gets moved or renamed.

I'm stumped. Any ideas on how this could be dealt with gracefully, keeping in mind Apple's focus on compatibility?


  • Reply 1 of 3
    I think this question might be more complicated than it appeared at the start... and it may not even be worth considering.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    Perhaps a possible solution, though still not elegant, would be to have the folder itself remember not just a single user's prefs who have write access, but everyone's as they make changes to it. That way everyone could have the view they wanted, and if you don't ever access the files (such as in other people's home directories) you wouldn't be storing useless user prefs. Of course, I didn't think very hard about it, and it may not be a very good solution.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Yup, because of two situations:

    1) Occasional access. You browse someone else's drive once... but have left little tracks of yourself all over the place.

    2) Network servers. Imagine a shared server that 1000 users use. Are you going to save the settings for every user that ever looks at a folder? Oy.

    And that's not even getting into the issue that user's are identified by numeric user id's, and that those may be different across systems and drives... can lead to confusion.
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