Mac OS X’s Finder: Dates not in sync in Finder window in list view

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 23rd, 2006 • 11:07 am

A while ago, I wrote about persistent problems in Mac OS X’s Finder when it comes to keeping file information up-to-date in Finder windows. Back then, I suspected that these problems affected the list view more specifically.

Here’s further evidence that the problem does affect list view and can actually last for several days. This is a screen shot taken this morning at 10:28:

Finder time warp

Unless someone at Apple has discovered a reliable form of time travel, there is something clearly wrong with this picture, and that is that one of the files is listed as having been last modified today at 14:28.

Given that this was in a folder with several files with similar names and I was trying to ascertain which one was the more recent, this was not particularly helpful. Bringing up the file information window for this file indicates that the file was actually last modified on Tuesday at 14:28, i.e. almost two days ago!

This means that the Finder is perfectly capable of becoming out of sync and staying out of sync in the same window for nearly 48 hours! And I suspect that, as long as I don’t close this Finder window and open a new one, things will stay the way that they are.

This is really quite scandalous. We are talking about pretty vital information here. When working with multiple versions of a same document—a situation that is not too infrequent—the time stamp is often the most reliable way to determine which version is the most up-to-date.

And, last time I checked, the Finder’s other view mode, i.e. the column view mode, doesn’t provide any way to sort files by date. Since the file names themselves in column view are often truncated, it’s pretty much indispensable to switch to another view mode when working on certain projects.

Yet clearly we have evidence here that the list view mode is not at all reliable. I wanted to send this particular file as an attachment to a client, and I needed to make sure I was selecting the correct file. So I switched to Mail, selected the “Attach File” command, and browsed to the same folder, again in list view, but this time within the dialog box for attaching files in Mail. And here’s what I got:

Same folder in Mail

This was while the Finder window in the background was still showing the older file with a time stamp of today at 14:28!

Clearly something is very wrong here. If Mail is able to refer to a file list that is up-to-date, why is the Finder itself not able to do so? And what is preventing Apple from, at the very least, implementing a mechanism that automatically updates the contents of currently open Finder windows in list view after a given period of time?

It would be a hack, and I’d much rather have a list view that is updated in real time, but at the very least it would avoid such absurd situations, with time stamps that have not been refreshed for two days or more!

2 Responses to “Mac OS X’s Finder: Dates not in sync in Finder window in list view”

  1. ssp says:

    Sounds like a different manifestation of the problem you detailed a while ago. The Finder just doesn’t care to refresh views as long as files only change :(

    For more fun along those lines try changing your time zone while the Finder is running. When doing so shortly before midnight you can even get the Finder to claim that files have been changed 23 hours in the future %|

    Your date localisations look a bit broken as well… I hope that was your own wrongdoing.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    My date localization is just fine, thank you very much :). I just happen to be using a English interface with French date and number formats. My personal preference, that’s all.

    Thankfully I don’t have to fiddle with time zones much, but I can imagine that it can easily become a nightmare, especially such unreliability in the Finder.

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