You get a .plist, and you get a .plist, and YOU get a .plist!

Just noticed that in my main Downloads folder, containing 1150 items (pdfs, epubs, text files), I suddenly have an equal number of plist files for them. So if there’s

Yamaha Reface manual.pdf there’s also

Yamaha Reface manual.pdf.plist

A cursory look doesn’t find this repeated for any of my other document folders, thank goodness.

Disk Utility’s First Aid and SmartReporter found nothing amiss with my 2Tb Fusion Drive.

Any ideas what’s happened, if it can be prevented from reoccurring, or whether it’s a sign of future trouble?

I believe that when Safari downloads a file from a web server, it starts in a sub-folder in ~/Downloads/. Inside that sub-folder is a plist containing the site information that it is downloading from, etc (It’s been awhile since I looked, so this is from memory).

That being said, I have no idea why the plists are there. They should be removed automatically when the download completes.

Safari also keeps a record of downloads in an sqlite database, so perhaps there was some glitch that made it re-create the plists for all your downloads? I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of that before, but it’s possible, I suppose.

Thanks. I don’t use Safari 99% of the time (and when I save something using it it’s usually a webarchive that goes to a different location). The folder has files going back a couple of years but all the plists - one for each file in the folder - were created yesterday! So something really weird happened in macOS for that to happen.

I looked through my main Documents folder, which has 90+Gb in tens of thousands of files, and a swing through at a half-dozen of the main subfolders thankfully doesn’t show anything like that occurring anywhere else.

I did find two curious files in that Downloads folder though: SyncOperations.plist.lockfile copy and OfflineDeletedItems.plist.lockfile copy - with no original files with those names. It’s as if a ton of invisible files became visible… or something. Really not sure what happened there.

Totally random thought: do you have Notebooks installed and indexing your Downloads folder? That software creates a plist file for every file in an indexed folder. I ran into that when I was using Notebooks to try it out, and I had plists down an entire very large folder tree.

If not Notebooks, is there any other software you run that you might have somehow pointed out the Downloads folder? This sounds very much like something created by third party software, as I do not believe there is anything in MacOS that would have just created a matching plist for every file in a folder.


Wow, I’m pretty sure that’s it! I was testing out the latest version of Notebooks and pointed to my Downloads folder.


Follow-up: I emailed the dev and he got back to me just minutes later, saying, “Notebooks uses these plist files to manage extra info about the documents: original creation date, selected fonts, colors, document style etc. - If you don’t want to be “distracted” by them, just activate “Hide system files in Finder”.”

I wish that were a little clearer in the instructions! Thanks again @nlippman

Glad you have a solution!

I should have mentioned that you can have Notebooks hide the plist files. Note, however, that if you do so, Notebooks works by setting a Finder extended attribute to hide the file, which the Finder honors. However, if you use a sync’d folder via a mechanism that does NOT preserve extended attributes (Dropbox does, does not) then the files will be visible on any sync’d machine.

Thanks for the info. And… ugh. I was looking to see if I could use the app, which I like a lot, as a cross-platform alternative to Mac-only EagleFiler, and it utilizes Dropbox (or at least it’s the one cloud service it specifically mentions), not iCloud. And just the other week I paid the $36 for the upgrade to v.2 when I’d heard it’d come out. :hot_face: