On Macs, the .DS_Store (Desktop Services Store) files are created by the Finder for each folder and contain the metadata associated with each folder—namely, the size and orientation of icons, background images, and so on. This helps to retain settings configured for a particular folder, for example, setting the Desktop folder to view the icons sorted by name, while configuring the Downloads folder to display files as a list and sorted by date with the most recent displayed first.
.DS_Store files are hidden by the system, as only the Finder uses this metadata to display your folder settings correctly; however, anyone who has enabled the viewing of hidden files or works within server shares where other users also access data will tell you that each folder an Apple user touches will have one of these special .DS_Store files created for it.
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If you or your server admin become frustrated by the seemingly endless creation of these files, there is a quick and easy way to turn off the creation of .DS_Store files—execute the following command in Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true
After the command is executed, reboot your Mac, and you'll be good to go—no more .DS_Store files gunking up your system's folders. If you need to set certain folders a particular way and want to reenable the creation of these files, the fix is just as simple—enter the command below and reboot your system once it's executed:
defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores false
Note: The change is considered a per-user modification, so if you're in a corporate environment with multiple Apple users, this command must be performed from each user's account when logged on with their profile. This may be scripted out and run by your IT department as a logon script or as part of ongoing maintenance routine tasks through Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) or other third-party management suites.
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If you have recommendations on how to deal with managing .DS_Store files, we'd love for you to share them in this article's comments.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.