Panther’s Finder: “Change All” command doesn’t change file icons

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
April 8th, 2004 • 3:44 am

Even though there have been several incremental updates since the release of Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther), Apple still hasn’t fixed some of the problems introduced (or reintroduced) in the new system with respect to refreshing lists of files.

I have already discussed the delay between the time you save a file in an application and the time it actually appears in the corresponding document window in the Finder. Rainer Brockerhoff was kind enough to provide us with a small contextual menu add-on called “Nudge” that helps somewhat (although it cannot be used in “Open” or “Save As” dialogs). As of Mac OS X 10.3.3, the problem is still there. (In fact, I just experienced it again while trying to upload the picture file below. Even though the Finder window for my “Uploads” folder shows the picture file that I’ve just created with Photoshop as part of the file list, the same file doesn’t appear in the file list in the “Open” dialog that I use in Safari to upload my files to my pMachine server. Since I have no other alternative (I cannot drag-and-drop the file instead), I am stuck, and actually have to quit and relaunch Safari in order for the file to appear — which is highly annoying because I have several web pages still open in Safari and waiting to be read.)

Here’s another similar problem I have with Panther. When you use the “Change All” button in the file inspector (or Get Info window) in the Finder to change the “Open with” setting for a particular type of file, Mac OS X does indeed change the behaviour of the Finder for such files, but it doesn’t necessarily refresh the visual appearance of the files as it should.

For example, yesterday I had a bunch of AIFF files created by Audio Hijack Pro. They had an iTunes document icon, indicating that the default behaviour in Mac OS X for files ending with the “.aiff” extension was to open them with iTunes. I wanted to change the default application to Amadeus II instead. So I selected the first file, went to the file inspector, changed the “Open with” application setting to Amadeus and clicked on “Change All” to apply the change to all similar files.

Changing the “Open with” application to Amadeus for this particular file did cause the icon for the file to change from the iTunes document icon to the Amadeus II document icon. But contrary to what I expected, clicking on the “Change All” button did not cause the file icons for all other AIFF files in that particular folder to change to Amadeus II document icons as well:

File list in Finder

The behaviour of the files did indeed change, meaning that, if I double-clicked on any of the files in this folder, they would automatically open in Amadeus II rather than iTunes. But all the file icons except for the first one still indicated that the files were iTunes documents, and not Amadeus II documents.

Thinking that it was just a window refresh issue, I closed the Finder window in question, opened a new one and browsed down to the same location again. To my disappointment, the document icons were still wrong.

In fact, this was yesterday. Twenty-four hours later, as I am writing this entry, the icons still haven’t changed. I am not sure when they will. But clearly there is something wrong with files whose icons indicate that they are iTunes documents when they actually are Amadeus II documents now.

It’s not just a cosmetic issue. File icons are supposed to provide useful information about their contents and parent application. In Panther, the Finder fails to update the information on a reliable basis. It’s rather annoying, as is the problem with files not showing up in “Open” or “Save As…” dialog boxes.

It all gives the impression that Apple doesn’t care about such details, even though they play an essential role in the system’s usability. It’s rather sloppy.

2 Responses to “Panther’s Finder: “Change All” command doesn’t change file icons”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    I stopped believing the “rewritten from scratch” hype a long time ago. After all, the entire Mac OS X was supposed to be a rewrite from scratch. And iTunes 1.0 was supposed to be a 1.0 application. And Word X was supposed to be a complete rewrite (if so, then MS simply don’t know how to write). Etc. etc.

    I too am still experiencing problems with custom icons…

  2. brian w says:

    The “desktop doesn’t update until you click it” thing drives me bonkers every single day at work, as we have several Applescripts that generate text files that we need to open and edit at various intervals. Yet you can never tell if the scripts have done their jobs, since nothing appears until you “activate” the desktop. Ugh.

    There are still issues with pasting icons onto folders/drives, too. Paste an icon; delete it; paste a new one. The Finder will display the first one, instead. The correct icon doesn’t appear until you log out and back in again. Further proof that the Finder wasn’t “rewritten from scratch” for Panther.

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