Mac OS X: How to force the system to update a file list in an Open/Save dialog box

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
August 3rd, 2004 • 4:08 am

A while ago, I wrote about this long-standing flaw in Mac OS X where file lists are not in sync between applications. For example, you might use the “Save All…” button in Mail to save message attachments in Folder A, and then go to Microsoft Word, choose “Open…” in the “File” menu, go to Folder A in the Open/Save dialog box, and find that the list of files shown to you in that Open/Save dialog box doesn’t include the attachments that you’ve just saved in Folder A from within Mail.

This kind of problem is pretty common in Mac OS X and has been even more prevalent since the release of Panther with its updated Finder. The fact that it’s still there after all this time seems to indicate that it’s a fundamental flaw somewhere in Mac OS X’s file management architecture and that Apple is having trouble fixing it. Or maybe they just don’t care.

In any case, last time I wrote about a work-around involving the use of the “Nudge” command.

I have now found another work-around that works even more reliably. But it requires Default Folder X, a third-party system enhancement for Open/Save dialog boxes. As far as I am concerned, Default Folder is absolutely indispensable, especially if you work with lots of files. This is one utility that I have no trouble recommending even to people who would not normally purchase and use third-party system enhancements.

In this particular case, when you are in an Open/Save dialog box and find that the file you are looking for is not listed because Mac OS X hasn’t yet updated its file listings, you can force Mac OS X to update them by choose Default Folder’s “Open [selection] in Finder” command (in Default Folder’s first menu, or with option-command-F).

This will switch you to the Finder and open the corresponding folder in a new window — but if you return to your application with command-Tab immediately after that, you’ll find that the file list has now been updated and includes the missing file(s). Problem solved!

It’s still a shame that Apple has not been able to fix this bug — but there’s no sense in waiting for Apple to fix and enduring the frustration in the mean time. Do yourself a favour, get a copy of Default Folder X, and enjoy its many wonderful features in addition to this work-around!

One Response to “Mac OS X: How to force the system to update a file list in an Open/Save dialog box”

  1. Rob Calhoun says:

    I only noticed this spectacularly annoying bug a few days ago, perhaps because I only recently started using Apple Mail. (Eudora doesn’t have this problem.) It’s so egregious that I’d figured there must be something wonky with my system until reading your post. Now that you’ve convinced me I’m not crazy, I’m going to install Apple’s latest OS X prerelease, test against it, and file a bug report. (Perhaps they already have a slew of reports on this issue, but it never hurts.)

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