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In the Apple macOS operating system, .DS_Store is a file that stores custom attributes of its containing folder, such as the position of icons or the choice of a background image. The name is an abbreviation of Desktop Services Store, reflecting its purpose. It is created and maintained by the Finder application in every folder, and has functions similar to the file desktop.ini in Microsoft Windows. Starting with a full stop (period) character, it is hidden in Finder and many Unix utilities. Its internal structure is proprietary.
Purpose and location
The file .DS_Store is created in any directory (folder) accessed by the Finder application, even on remote file systems mounted from servers that share files (for example, via Server Message Block (SMB) protocol or the Apple Filing Protocol (AFP)). Remote file systems, however, could be excluded by operating system settings (such as permissions). Although primarily used by the Finder, these files were envisioned as a more general-purpose store of metadata about the display options of folders, such as icon positions and view settings. For example, on Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" and later, the ".DS_Store" files contain the Spotlight comments of the folder's files. These comments are also stored in the extended file attributes, but Finder does not read those.
In earlier Apple operating systems, Finder applications created similar files, but at the root of the volume being accessed, including on foreign file systems, collecting all settings for all files on the volume (instead of having separate files for each respective folder).
The complaints of many users prompted Apple to publish means to disable the creation of these files on remotely mounted network file systems. However, these instructions do not apply to local drives, including USB flash drives, although there are some workarounds. Before Mac OS X 10.5, .DS_Store files were visible on remote filesystems.
.DS_Store files have been known to adversely affect copy operations. If multiple files are selected for file transfer, the copy operation will retroactively cancel all progress upon reaching a .DS_Store file, forcing the user to restart the copy operation from the beginning.
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- Binary format specification
- A reverse-engineered description of the file format
- A more detailed description of the file format
- Perl code to decode the .DS_Store format
- A blog post walking through parsing the .DS_Store file format