Since installing MacOS 10.7 (Lion) my workflow has been seriously disrupted by an increasing number of instances in which my folder window view settings and icon placements are modified or reset to the apparent default, which seems to be icon view, alpha-sort, even-spaced rectangular arrangement. Like many other users, I depend heavily on using icon view and workflow-specific icon arrangements in my folders.
The only trigger reported so far: Apparently, to start disrupting view settings it is sufficient to navigate in a standard Open or Save (or similar) dialog. The likelihood of a complete reset seems to increase if you actually complete the dialog, i.e., save a file. Are the disruptions occurring just in the folders traversed or the final folder in which a file is saved? Maybe.
There are at least three relevant threads in Apple forums:
(The third shows that this issue, or something like it, was observed by some users of 10.6.x.)
It seems generally agreed that icon positions and, generally, view settings are stored in each folder in an invisible file, .DS_Store. Posters speculate how .DS_Store affected: Some say it is simply deleted (mechanism unknown) and then replaced with the default. The only sort-of practical solution offered so far is saving a copy of .DS_Store when the window is correct, and then restoring that copy after disruption occurs.
While it is clear some users are affected, judging from the proportion of total postings on the Apple Lion forum and elsewhere, the number is relatively small. (Why? The answer might be helpful in diagnosis.)
What's largely missing from the discussions I've seen so far are systematic observations, technical analyses, ideas for instrumenting the issue, technically-plausible theories, and emphasis on finding workarounds until the problem is fixed. That's why I'm posting here.
I'm concerned that with the small number of users discussing this issue in forums and the lack of useful detail in the postings, Apple will give the problem a low priority. While we tekkie users probably can't produce a fix, we ought to be able to characterize the issue and there's a decent chance of finding some kind of work-around. There's even a hope that that us "lucky" ones affected can fix the problem by de-installing some old, incompatible s/w that survived 10.7 installation, or even with a simple parameter adjustment.
This is clearly a complex issue. I find it difficult to understand how Open or Save dialog would affect folder view settings and icon arrangements. (Unless: because you can switch folder views while navigating in these dialogs, perhaps the mechanism is an incomplete or unintentional linking of those settings to the non-dialog views.) I don't accept the "something deletes .DS_Store" theory because I've seen partial disruptions, e.g. one icon displaced from here (say, upper left) to there (upper right), and only partial rearrangement in alpha-sort order. I've seen cases in which a hopelessly rearranged view was miraculously restored. (Theory: Lion keeps .DS_Store backups, monitors the current file for inconsistencies, and --in certain cases-- restores scrambled .DS_Store files from the most recent consistence version.)