Renaming my home directory trashed my Mac?
I have a Mac OS X iBook G4 ver. 10.3.9. Recently, I don't know what came over me, but I wanted to change my "name" on my computer. So, what I did was open Finder, click on my name (beside the house icon) and clicked File-Get Info. I then simply changed my name in the box that showed up under "Name & Extension". I did not realize what havoc this would cause on my computer (I did not get any "Are you sure?" warning message or anything). Even though I had changed my name, I had NOT created another account. All my old files were then put under my old name, and I eventually found these files. However, all of my programs reset themselves. I lost my emails, all my personal settings, everything. It was as if I was opening the programs up again for the first time. This was still the case even after I had switched my name back to the original name.
Question: What did I do? Why was it so easily done? How can I get my original settings back without having to reset them all manually?
Ouch. I never really thought about the implications of renaming your home directory in the Mac world, but since Mac OS X is running atop Unix (FreeBSD, to be specific) this is a very bad thing.
The biggest problem is that when you next reboot your system, it'll complain that you no longer have a home directory (since it's probably looking for something like /Home/taylor but you've ingeniously renamed it /Home/dave) and might either refuse to let you log in or drop you in a generic directory like / or /tmp.
To fix this, you need to restore the name of the existing directory, not move files into a new directory, and then you'll have the magic set of preference and configuration files you seek, all in your Library/Preferences folder within your home directory.
(Actually, Mac applications aren't that well behaved as a group, so some actually use subdirectories in your Documents folder (like Microsoft apps, which use "Microsoft User Data" within "Documents") or elsewhere to store preferences and configuration options too.
If renaming your old home directory doesn't fix it, then dig around and see if you can identify where the preference files have gone, because they're what controls whether an app thinks you've used it and tweaked it or not.
In terms of why was it so easy to do, well, that's why I think it's a good idea to run on a day-to-day basis as a regular, not admin user. By being an administrative user, you get greater powers and as the proverb goes, absolute power corrupts. Only this time it was your hard disk that was corrupted...
In the future, when you want to rename your account or, more sensibly, create a new account, your best bet is really to use the Accounts tool, accessible from Apple --> System Preferences --> Accounts:
Notice the "+" on the lower left there? Click on that and you can add new accounts to your heart's content. Also notice that Linda's account on this system is listed as "standard", that is, not an administrative account. It's safer.
Good luck to you!
More Useful Mac OS X Help Articles:
✔ Audacity can't find LAME library, I can't save Mp3?
Hey Dave. I read your article Audacity can't save mp3 audio files and am still puzzled because I downloaded the LAME Mp3 converter...✔ How to remove Dashboard as a "space" in Mac OS X Spaces?
I'm a big fan of the Spaces utility in Mac OS X that lets me have multiple virtual screens [see Set Up Mac...✔ Best place to buy a cheap MacBook laptop?
Hi Dave. I am looking for two gently used MacBook laptops for my teen daughters. Personal computers would greatly facilitate their studies as...✔ File too big error copying to USB flash drive on my Mac?
I'm baffled. I have a 16GB Kingston USB flash drive that I use on my Mac system and I'm trying to copy a...✔ Stealth image capture photo from webcam on my Mac?
Someone sneaks into my cubicle while I'm at lunch and takes candy out of my desk. Petty, but stupid too. I want to...
Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for my weekly AskDaveTaylor Newsletter and you'll receive even more tech and gadget help right to your inbox, along with exclusive news and industry updates. It's good stuff. I promise!
I do have a comment, now that you mention it!
Check This Out Too...
Look for Answers
All Our Categories
Apple iPad Help
Articles and Reviews
Auctions and Online Shopping
Blogs and Blogging
Building Web Site Traffic
Business and Management
Computer and Internet Basics
d) None of the Above
Google Gmail Help
Google Plus Help
Industry News and Trade Shows
iPhone and Cell Phone Help
iPod, Sony PSP and MP3 Player Help
Kindle Fire Help
Mac OS X Help
Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Shell Script Programming
Tech Support Video Help
The Writing Business
Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Network Help
Unix and Linux Help
Video Game Tips and Help
Windows PC Help
Find Me on Google+
ADT on G+