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Refresh Finder Window

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I have many wishes for Mac OS X. Lots of them have been filled in the 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3 releases of OS X, but one has not.

As much as we would like them to, Mac OS X (and for that matter Mac OS 9) Finder windows do not refresh as fast as we would like them to. You have to close out of, or collapse if in List view, the window, and reopen it to force a redraw.

In Windows hitting F5 will refresh the current window. Now why can’t OS X do this? I am sure it can!

This is the number one feature I would like to see in the next release of OS X, be it a dot dot release, or in 10.4, thought it would be nice to see it sooner then that.

On a related note, you should submit your feedback to Apple on OS X. Who knows, something positive just might come of it.

Originally posted on Breaking Windows on 12/13.03.

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About Ken Edwards

  • ck

    who cares about osx

  • Tim Moore

    Even better, they should engineer it so that you don’t *have* to explicitly refresh because it always updates anytime something changes. That should be possible at least for local file systems.

  • Well, the applescript for it is trivial
    tell application “Finder”
    update insertion location
    end tell

    What I’m still trying to figure out is should it be a…
    folder action that gets attached to a folder which runs on change
    standalone app for the sidebar
    service (that might get you the ability to attach it to an F key)
    contextual menu
    something else?

    How should it work?

  • I would have to vote for Service.

    Also a Toolbar script would work. But being a Service and having a keyboard shortcut would be even better!

    great idea, i never thought of that, or thought the AS would be that simple.

  • Nearly everybody assumes it’s a Finder bug, but it isn’t.
    As far as I could find out, one of the problems is that some apps don’t notify the system properly when they change a file or folder. Both the Finder and folder actions listen to such notifications, but sometimes they don’t happen. So a folder action script would be superfluous.
    In Panther they started to implement the BSD kqueue mechanism which is, in principle, capable of doing file system modification notifications without depending on action from the apps that do the modification. It seems that there wasn’t time to properly integrate this with the HFS routines and to modify the Finder to use kqueues, so this is something to look forward to sometime around 10.3.5 or so.
    I’ve been playing around with some interim solutions to this. One I’ve got working is a contextual menu: you select the folders or files you want to update and then the CM; this sends a notification to the Finder.
    Note that this solves two problems, one for the case where files are added or removed from a folder, another for when attributes for some files are changed. Doing this with a service is also possible, but services are restricted to using command-shift-somecharacter, F-keys are not accepted.
    Setting up a generic key to work like F5 on Windows would mean leaving a process running all of the time to listen to that key, and will conflict with other apps using that key; the process also would need to query the Finder to see which folders are opened. If the open folders have thousands of items, generating notifications for all of them would be a time-expensive process.
    Personally I prefer the CM approach. I’ll look into the others too, but I’ll publish something in the next few days.