Mac OS X’s Dumb Copy/Paste

Yesterday I was copying some movies from one external hard-disk to another on my MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6.7).  Totally it had to copy about 240 GB of data and it would take 2 hours to copy all the files, so I started the copy overnight.  What I see in the morning is an error which says “An error occurred trying to read blah-blah”.  The dialogue box only had an OK button.  When pressed it, it just closed the copy operation and I was left with a partial copy of data with absolutely no clue how many files were copied and where exactly the stupid thing stopped copying.

Now how difficult can it be to just skip the corrupted file and continue copying rest of the content?  But no, the developers at Apple decided to implement it the stupid way.

Things were OK till I realized another dumbness of Mac OS X’s copy/paste.  If you want to copy a folder and merge it with another folder with same name, you can’t do it on Mac OS X.  Take this example, I have two folders named Movies in two separate hard-disks disk1 and disk2.  Now I want to merge them in disk2, so I just copy the Movies folder from disk1 and paste it on disk2.  I would expect that all my files on disk2 will be preserved and additional files from disk1 will be copied over.  But again a BIG NO.  Dumb Mac OS X will delete all the files under Movies on disk2 and replace them with files on disk1.

How dumb is that !!!

BTW, Linux copied the *corrupted* files perfectly fine and I can play those movies without a hitch.  Go figure.

Author: Ronak Gandhi

I'm a software developer, who is also passionate about driving, traveling, automobiles, photography, computers and games. TT (Ping Pong as some people say) is the latest entry to my list of hobbies. I'm slowly getting better, but not there yet.

11 thoughts on “Mac OS X’s Dumb Copy/Paste”

  1. I wish copy/paste (and ALL commands) were STUPID. The hardest things to figure out is if something really weird happens to SOME cases. Usually your data is already screwed up by the time you figure out partial corruption. And that’s exactly what happens with “smart” commands.

  2. The folder merge is very annoying and trashes files if your not careful, at least Nautilus on linux asks what you want to do. Although in my experience all GUI file managers suffer from stupid crashing out half way through for no good reason.

    Don’t forget that Mac OS is still BSD underneath, so for big copies I would always open a Terminal and use rsync, e.g

     rsync -av /Volumes/MYDISK/Movies/ ~/Movies/

    What you loose on the cmd line is an overall progress meter but you gain reliability and if it does die just run the same command and rsync will workout what is left todo and only do that, including merging dirs sensibly.

  3. The folder merge is very annoying and trashes files if your not careful, at least Nautilus on linux asks what you want to do. Although in my experience all GUI file managers suffer from stupid crashing out half way through for no good reason.

    Don’t forget that Mac OS is still BSD underneath, so for big copies I would always open a Terminal and use rsync, e.g

     rsync -av /Volumes/MYDISK/Movies/ ~/Movies/

    What you loose on the cmd line is an overall progress meter but you gain reliability and if it does die just run the same command and rsync will workout what is left todo and only do that, including merging dirs sensibly.

  4. Applications and procedural training is required to use any computer.  Get DiskWarrior, Rebuild and Scan for corrupt files before you do a large copy.  Regular maintenance will prevent problem like this.  Also, always eject a mounted drive before disconnecting.

    You really think that replacing a folder with another folder is procedurally stupid? The file system prompts you to either Stop or Replace. Files replace files, folders replace folders.  Files go into folders, folders go into folders.
    Try using drag and drop to visualize what you’re asking the computer to do.

    Yes, computers are stupid.

    1. Not all computers (or rather OS I should say) are stupid.  My Linux machine could read all the so called *corrupted* files perfectly fine and I could play all the movies too.  So Linux must be using a better algorithm to read than Mac OS X.

      My main grouse with the replace functionality is user experience.  Yeah it does give a warning, but that doesn’t help when I want to merge two large folders.  That’s a pretty common use case I encounter in my work-flow and Mac OS X has no option to achieve that.

  5. Applications and procedural training is required to use any computer.  Get DiskWarrior, Rebuild and Scan for corrupt files before you do a large copy.  Regular maintenance will prevent problem like this.  Also, always eject a mounted drive before disconnecting.

    You really think that replacing a folder with another folder is procedurally stupid? The file system prompts you to either Stop or Replace. Files replace files, folders replace folders.  Files go into folders, folders go into folders.
    Try using drag and drop to visualize what you’re asking the computer to do.

    Yes, computers are stupid.

    1. Not all computers (or rather OS I should say) are stupid.  My Linux machine could read all the so called *corrupted* files perfectly fine and I could play all the movies too.  So Linux must be using a better algorithm to read than Mac OS X.

      My main grouse with the replace functionality is user experience.  Yeah it does give a warning, but that doesn’t help when I want to merge two large folders.  That’s a pretty common use case I encounter in my work-flow and Mac OS X has no option to achieve that.

  6. think differently — isnt that mac slogan. just like the global menu bar or the no cut/paste or the left hand side close button.

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