OS X: You don’t have permission to read your own files

Removing words isn’t always the best route to UX design. Here’s an example (that just bit me) of Apple’s obsession with “remove words, look pretty” making their systems/applications unusable:

“Copying 3,000 files…”
“STOP! One or more of these files you don’t have permission to read. Stop, Retry, Continue?”

Which one, Apple? (it turns out that there were precisely 2 files affected, out of the 3,000+ – although Apple wouldn’t share this info, I had to calculate it after the fact)

Oh, I see. You won’t tell me. I’m supposed to go and do “cmd-i” on every single file, until I find the one where OS X has incorrectly set the file permissions. (NB: selecting everything and trying to do a mass permission set … doesn’t change anything).

The cheap alternative design, as used by normal developers, would have been to give the names of the files. Apple won’t do that – maybe because it would clutter their “pretty” user-interface?

What caused this?

Severe bugs in OS X’s handling of “downloading files from the internet” and/or “receiving files via email”.

In a move reminiscent of the worst days of Microsoft, Apple assumes that you only have one computer, and that the internet doesn’t exist. If you transfer a file from one computer to another – even just download it from a website – then Apple will try and enforce the file permissions from the original computer.

Just to be clear, there is NO security benefit to this: the moment you sent the file over the internet, all security permissions were effectively faked/deleted/nullified anyway.

In this case, simply because the file was authored on a different OS X computer, Apple took away all permissions, marking the file “Top Secret” (only visible to one user on my computer – can’t even copy it over the network). Stupid.

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