I broke my Mac Mini, trying set some permissions on some folders for web-development, but somehow ended up removing permissions from everything.

I managed to restore permissions, but have had a few issues since, namely the folder icons on the sidebar in Finder are not reflecting the icons they should be.

The desktop also seems slow to refresh when saving a file to it. They don't appear until I do another action.

Is this something I can fix in Terminal or elsewhere to restore everything back to how it was? Will I have to resort to reinstalling Mavericks?

Alternatively, will restoring from my Time Machine have an impact on things like these folder icons.

Default favorites icons


folder permissions when running ls -le as per answer below

 drwxrwxrwx@ 16 username  staff    544  5 Nov 21:33 Github
 -rw-r--r--@  1 username  staff      0  4 Nov 02:01 Icon?
 drwxr-xr-x@ 72 username  staff   2448  4 Nov 01:55 Library
 drwx---r-x@ 20 username  staff    680  4 Nov 01:44 Movies
 drwx---rw-@  9 username  staff    306  4 Nov 01:54 Music
 drwx---rw-@  8 username  staff    272  4 Nov 01:45 Pictures


  • furthermore: I've created a new admin user, it also has the same issue.
    – Mat
    Nov 4, 2013 at 21:12
  • this kept cropping up now and again for some reason. latest update to OSX fixed it.
    – Mat
    Apr 7, 2014 at 10:17
  • I still think this bug is bizarre. Took me three months on and off to fix it on my mac.
    – Danger14
    May 23, 2014 at 16:47

4 Answers 4


How did you restore permissions? Manually, or did you use the "Repair" feature in Disk Utilities?

Restoring from a Time Machine backup from before things went bad should work.

One thing you might try before restoring is to delete the Finder preferences. ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.finder.plist then relaunch the Finder (Hold Option while selecting the Finder icon in the dock). The preference file will be regenerated with the system defaults.

  • I used the repair feature. this might be an issue, I don't have the com.apple.finder.plist file.
    – Mat
    Nov 4, 2013 at 20:20
  • If you don't have a com.apple.finder.plist preference file, then things are certainly "not good" what did you do to your permissions?
    – sdmeyers
    Nov 4, 2013 at 20:24
  • basically it looks like i removed my rights to access every folder/file under Home downwards.
    – Mat
    Nov 4, 2013 at 20:26
  • being and idiot, found the file. deleted it. restarted finder. no change.
    – Mat
    Nov 4, 2013 at 20:43
  • From the terminal could you let me know what you get when you type ls -le This should reveal ACLs which could be messed up or missing. One final trick, try dragging one of the folders directly to the sidebar, see what that does.
    – sdmeyers
    Nov 4, 2013 at 21:36

You probably restored your preferences (not permissions) by deleting com.apple.finder.plist, right? You'll also want to take out one more file, which handles the sidebar, then reboot:

rm -rf ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.sidebarlists.plist

It probably wouldn't hurt to Verify Permissions via Disk Utility either (since you mentioned them).

  • 1
    tried this, but made difference. thanks though
    – Mat
    Nov 11, 2013 at 20:31

I had the same problem as you and it was because I had ACL's on my files in /home. If you have that problem (0: group:everyone deny write)

More info at http://backdrift.org/fixing-mac-osx-file-permissions-and-acls-from-the-command-line

If permissions is not your issue, I've discovered an alternate solution which I posted here. Is it possible to change the Finder sidebar icons

  • /home/? That's a bit odd for a Mac, would have expected it to be /Users/.
    – SilverWolf
    Oct 9, 2017 at 17:44

reinstalled mavericks over the top and has cleared everything up.

having deleted the plist files in the other answers beforehand.


  • actually after later restarts and updates, problem has reappeared.
    – Mat
    Nov 11, 2013 at 18:57
  • I had the same problem as you and it was because I had ACL's on my files in /home. If you have that problem (0: group:everyone deny write) go backdrift.org/….
    – Danger14
    Dec 18, 2013 at 20:25
  • you should put this as an answer @danger14 so i can upvote it
    – Mat
    Mar 13, 2014 at 8:20

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