I have some image files that mysteriously showed up on the desktop. When I go to move them, they show a copy (+) icon and they are unable to be deleted. When I select either one and press space bar to preview, instead of a preview, the message "No items selected" is displayed.

I also noticed that they do not show up in a regular finder window of the desktop, but only in the desktop itself.

Upon relaunching finder (CMD+OPT+ESC > Finder > Relaunch), the symptoms vanished.

But does anyone know why this keeps happening? I've seen it multiple times now.

  • Have you tried sudo rm'ing that? :P – Alexander - Reinstate Monica Sep 3 '12 at 19:42
  • what are the permissions on the files? what are they named? – AllInOne Sep 3 '12 at 19:55
  • How does Finder describe them if you look at the file description and advanced information by selecting them and typing Command-i ? – Ethan Lee Sep 4 '12 at 7:38
  • Thank you, but I can't actually check the file permissions now, as they vanished upon relaunching Finder, as mentioned above. – Old McStopher Sep 4 '12 at 9:58

The same thing has happened to me with canceled download files from Safari and temporary files created by ImageMagick. The files are only shown on the window of the desktop and not when opening ~/Desktop/ in a separate window. They have always disappeared after reopening Finder or logging out and back in.

I can't reproduce it right now, but I'll check if there's anything interesting in the logs the next time that happens. tell application "Finder" to update folder of desktop might be worth a shot as well.

A related question at Super User: OS X: The item XYZ.txt~ can’t be moved to the Trash because it can’t be deleted

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