If you’re a Windows user and if you’ve ever exchanged files with a Mac user, chances are you’ve encountered them. Little files called .DS_Store suddenly infecting your otherwise pristine folders. Those are files created by the Mac OSX operating system. Files that store “meta data” about that folder. Wikipedia elaborates:
.DS_Store (Desktop Services Store) is a hidden file created by Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X operating system to store custom attributes of a folder such as the position of icons or the choice of a background image. By default, the Mac OS X Finder will create a .DS_Store file in every folder that it accesses, even folders on remote systems [...] and even if the user has only customized the appearance of the folder by moving its Finder window. This is in contrast to the preexisting system for the same purpose used in previous versions of the Finder, which would merely place a number of invisible files at the root of the volume being accessed (even on alien file systems), always storing the settings and metadata for all of the folders in the entire volume within this single set of files.
In case you haven’t picked up the suck in the above explanation, let me list them here for you in simple words that you can understand:
- Every folder the Mac accesses, local, external or alien, gets a file.
- The files appear even when they’re not needed.
- Things could’ve been different. There could’ve been only one file per drive.
As should be excrutiatingly clear from the above bulletted list, .DS_Store files are—at best—an inelegant solution to storing metadata, at worst, they’re totally useless.
Arno used to work with Apple. He worked on the Mac OS Classic Finder and he was part of the rewrite that was done for OSX. In a blogpost he explains that it’s actually a bug that causes the files to be created everywhere, a bug that to this day still hasn’t been fixed.
While it’s a bug, it’s also a fun bug! It’s a bug that means any Mac user browsing your Windows drive will leave a little glowing trail of breadcrumbs that can soon be retraced. Sometimes with hilarious consequences. Privacy infringing hilarious consequences.
As fun as that might be, there’s plenty of reason to despise those trails. In fact, a visit from The Mac is akin to a visit from a rude guest. You offer him a piece of pie and he proceeds to drop crumbs wherever he goes.
Having cleaned up after The Mac for the umpteenth time the other day, it wasn’t long until I was registering my disgust throughout the Twitterverse. The responses from the zealous Mac nuts were routinely apologist and argued that the .DS_Store files are simply hidden files you never see, and that if Windows was only a leetle beet Unix friendly, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Problem is a funny word, but so is decroded piece of crap. Even if it’s a hidden file, it’s still a file, and files aren’t welcome unless you choose “Save” somewhere. Sweeping dust under the carpet isn’t really cleaning the house, is it? To me it sounds like a classic example of overwhelming stupidity vs. the Mac apologists. The Mac should fix its bug and rid the world of the .DS_Store scourge. At the very least, network drives should be exempt from infection. I find this truth to be self-evident, and I challenge you to counter my arguments. In the words of George W. Bush: bring it on!