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Travis, Mac-Trained Product Designer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 759
Experience:  19+ Years of Mac Experience, BSA in Design and 6 Years of Mac Training from University of Cincinnati
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I cannot open any of the folders or documents on the desktop.

Resolved Question:

I cannot open any of the folders or documents on the desktop. We are running OS 10 on an I-Mac.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mac
Expert:  Travis replied 7 years ago.
If the following suggestions work, please let me know and you can Accept the answer (and if possible, leave positive feedback). If not, please DO NOT Accept the answer. Instead, let me know and we'll try some more things or I can refer you to another Expert who may be able to help you further.

Can you please answer a few questions first?

What version of OS X are you using? You said OS 10, but if you go to the apple menu in the top left corner, then to about this mac, it should tell you which OS 10 version you have. (10.4.11, 10.5.8, 10.6.1?)

In the meantime, I would suggest you run some general maintenance on the computer. It is an obvious square-one approach. I normally suggest this first because it is good practice plus if we dig too deep into a problem and simple measures could have repaired it in the beginning we'll be kicking ourselves later... This is going to be a long email so I suggest printing it out for your reference.

First let's reset the PRAM on the computer.
1) Shut down the computer.
2) While the computer is shut down, locate these keys: command (has an apple on it), option (sometimes called alt), P, and R.
3) Turn the computer on, then press and hold Command-Option-P-R before the gray screen appears.
4) Hold these keys down until you hear the startup sound a total of 3 times.
5) Release the keys.

Next, let's try a Safe Boot. This will perform several clean up procedures that may be affecting the machine's performance and startup.
1) Shut down your computer completely.
2) Start up the computer and immediately after the startup chime, press and hold the Shift key
3) Once the gray Apple and progress indicator appear, release the Shift key
4) Note: Startup will likely take substantially longer than normal
5) In Mac OS 10.4 or later, you will have to login to your account, even if it normally does so automatically.
6) Shut down the computer.

Now let's check / repair the disk permissions. Although this doesn't fix all problems it is a great way to start when working on a machine, besides it often cleans up any other smaller problems you may or may not be experiencing.
1) Restart the machine.
2) Before you have opened any programs, go to Applications / Utilities / Disk Utilities.
3) Run the Verify Permissions, then Repair any errors it finds.
4) Shut down the computer.
5) Restart - can you get into your files and folders now?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I did everything you said successfully but I still cannot open any of the items on the desktop. I tried two of them. We have OS10.4.11. I think that you work late at night so I hope to find your message tomorrow morning. You are right though that in the Disk Utilities there were things that were not not synchronized or conflict or whatever. Supposedly we cleared them out.
Expert:  Travis replied 7 years ago.
I do work late at night, but I also work during the day. Sleep is for the weak... or at least that's how I rationalize it to my wife...

Have you created a temporary admin account (System Preferences / accounts) to see if the issue is occuring system wide or is user specific? This will help narrow down the troubleshooting.

Before we go any further, I would suggest you use a program like Carbon Copy Cloner ( to create a restorable backup of your Hard Drive to an External Hard Drive. This free program will make a mirrored copy of your hard drive in it's current state that you can go back to if things go south after the following changes. I do this personally before I perform any kind of install, update or major change to my system.
Travis and 4 other Mac Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dear Travis,

I'm taking over this project from Joanne. My name is Margaret. Joanne is my partner and she had to go out of town. Joanne is retired and I am still a working person. So, I can't get to this til about 11:30 this morning. I wanted to give you an update. I'll write more when I've tried what you suggest. Thanks, Margaret
Expert:  Travis replied 7 years ago.
Great! I'll be heading into work soon and should be back online in about 2 hours. Please post any followups here after you start running through the suggestions. I'll reply to any questions or comments you leave ASAP.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Hi Travis,

We decided to go with a local computer person who can come to the house and help us set up an external hard drive. Thanks for your help and moving us along in the process. I'm going to click "accept" and say thanks for all your help up to this point, Margaret
Expert:  Travis replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for your reply. I understand the need to have hands on support. Thank you regardless for the Accept. It is much appreciated.

If you (or Joanne) have any further questions, please feel free to ask.