Living with Lion: Symlink to Downloads causes TextEdit and Preview to crash on Mac OSX 10.7 Lion

I upgraded my MacBook Air to Mac OSX 10.7 (Lion) yesterday.  Boy, there are a lot of changes, both under the hood and for the end-user.

One bug that I have hit is that after the upgrade both TextEdit and Preview crash on launch.  I found one reference to this on a MacRumors Forum.  I have determined that this bug is in no way related to Dropbox, rather with Mac OSX’s handling of symlinks.

I often create a /Downloads directory and then symlink this to ~/Downloads.  This seems to be what causes TextEdit and Preview to crash.

To fix it, I deleted the ~/Downloads symlink, launched TextEdit and Preview, closed them, deleted the ~/Downloads directory that these programs created, and then re-created my symlink by running ln -s /Downloads ~/Downloads.

Apple has clearly made significant changes with respect to the filesystem.  No one would accuse them of resting on their laurels.  On that note, I’m certain this will be addressed in 10.7.1 if not sooner.

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6 Comments to “Living with Lion: Symlink to Downloads causes TextEdit and Preview to crash on Mac OSX 10.7 Lion”

  1. Thanks. This was Very Helpful :-). It’s extremely frustrating when apps launch TextEdit to view their Licenses and Help Documentation but TextEdit crashes out. The only difference I can see in the permissions between my initial symlink causing T/E & Preview to crash and the re-created one following your fix is the first was owned by root and the latter by the user.

    In all the post-Lion upgrade furoar (sic) of dying apps I can’t remember why I made root own the original symlink.

  2. Thanks a lot! It helped me. Actually in my case I just needed to delete the symlink of the Download folder, not the Document one.

    Thanks again!!

  3. Sorry, can you please post step by step? Just can’t figure this out, after reviewing all the help. Thanks!

  4. Wouldn’t running disk permissions fix this?

  5. Thanks for the comments.

    Nate: Good thought about the disk permissions. I hadn’t thought of that. I’d bet that it would fix it, though.

    Reginald: You might want to try running the disk permissions check in Disk Utility. However, what worked for me was:
    – Open terminal
    – Remove the symlink: “rm ~/Downloads”
    – Open Preview and TextEdit
    – Close Preview and TextEdit
    – Return to terminal
    – Delete the Downloads directory created by opening the above programs: “rmdir ~/Downloads”
    – Recreate symlink. (For me, this was: “ln -s /Downloads ~/Downloads” )

    Note that my symlink was pointing to /Downloads. If yours is somewhere else, replace it with that.

    I would bet that this only happens if you initially create the symlink using a terminal, rather than the usual “Make Alias” command in Finder. I can’t test this, though.

  6. Thanks for the tutorial. I fiddled with the Downloads folder and symlinks, that did nothing. Then I ran the repair disk permissions in the disk utility. And it now works like a charm. Good suggestion, Nate.

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