Files appear on Mac Desktop with delay

When user does a screenshot, there is a delay before it appears on the desktop, it normally appears once he has deleted something else.  
Also, if user drags a file from an email or somewhere else on to the desktop or in to a folder, it again does not appear straight away, but will after some other form of action is taken.

This has been observed on couple of Macs: 10.10.5 and 10.9.5.
We have older Macs that do not have this problem.

Do you have any idea what may be going on there?
Tom SkowyrskiAsked:
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David AndersTechnician Commented:
A hard drive or partition is nearly full, 10% free space is often recommended.
Another possibility is a directory that needs repair. This can be done in Single User Mode
http://osxdaily.com/2013/08/07/how-to-repair-a-mac-disk-with-fsck-from-single-user-mode/
OR by booting in Recovery Partition and running Disk Utility

Memory Clean 2 shows free RAM - does it do it after a restart.
https://fiplab.com/apps/memory-clean-for-mac
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
Is the desktop area full of document or installer files?  If so, try moving them to other folders:
-  Documents
-  Pictures
-  Movies,
-  Music
-  etc.
David AndersTechnician Commented:
Starting in Safe Mode will also do HD repair as well a cache cleaning
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201262

Creating a test user can help isolate problems.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204443

Both take mere minutes.
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Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
Thank you, I will try it out and post an update.
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
It works fine under new account.
Under the affected user account you can save anything to Desktop but it will not show up for a while. However, if you try to save the same file to Desktop again (even though it is not on Desktop), then you will be told that the file is already there.
The affected user has got some apps which did not start under new account, like Cleanmymac, dropbox, few others that I am not sure what these supposed to do.

Things I also tried:
* we have plenty of free space
* repaired permissions
* verified disk
* there are only few folders and files on desktop totalling 2.75GB
* users profile is 80GB

I only have remote access to that Mac so won't be able to boot Safe Mode.

Do you have any more ideas?
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
2.75 GB on the Desktop?  That sounds like a lot.  How many files does that total comprise?  The Desktop is still a bit of a special case, in that a busy Desktop can slow down the computer.

Try disabling "Cleanmymac" and the other startup apps as well.  Does it get better?  If so, turn them on, one at a time, testing with a reboot each time.  Which one (or which ones) cause slowness?  Once done, remove the offending apps permanently.

If all else fails, back up the documents and move them to a new profile.  Then delete the old one.
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
I created brand new account which did not have Cleanmymac or other software like Dropbox running and the screenshots are still taking awfully long to come up on the Desktop even though there is nothing on the Desktop.

Could it be hard disk slowing down, or CPU or RAM hitting threshold?
serialbandCommented:
Have you tried to reset the SMC, then reset the PRAM?  Those are quick and should be done first.

Since you've done some of the other preliminary steps that would follow the SMC and PRAM resets, it's time to reinstall the OS.  Reboot the Mac into Recovery mode and Reinstall the OS.  Do not erase the disk with Disk Utility, and the user data should remain intact.  The reinstall will overwrite all the OS system files in case they're corrupt.

How old is the Mac?  Is it one with a spinning disk or SSD?
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
It is Macmini 4,1 with Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz, with NVIDIA GeForce 320M, 8 GB DDR3 RAM. 320GB spinning HDD s/n: PB3AC60W.

I was wondering that since I have to go on-site and re-install OS, would it be better to put SSD in there and re-image current disk to SSD? Just trying to kill two birds with one stone.

Assuming that it is performance issue and even then having SSD would make OS re-install much faster. Also, I would get 250GB SSD but HDD is 320GB with over 100GB free space so would the imaging software allow me to put the image on smaller SSD as there is space to reduce the size?
serialbandCommented:
Yes.  You can just install a new OS onto it, then use Apple's Migration Assistant to transfer the data, rather than cloning it.  If you really want to clone it, you should be able to use disk utility to reduce the partition size.  You can then clone that smaller partition.

However, it's a Core2 Duo, quite obsolete by now and quite old.  The SSD would make that Core2 duo appear about twice as fast, but it will still be quite slow.  I did that on an old white MacBook years ago, with a spare SSD from another upgrade; I wouldn't have done it otherwise.

They would be better served with a new Mac Mini, even the lowest end model, although I wouldn't generally go for the crippled model.  The extra money for the next model up is well worth it.

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Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
I have one of those Core 2 Duo Mac Minis at work (mid 2010) and it still performs reasonably well with High Sierra (10.13.x).  However, I agree with serialband that it is quite old.  Furthermore, it would not surprise me to find out that it will be dropped from the list of supported machines for new O/Ses any time starting with the next iteration (10.14.x).

I echo serialband's advice to do a re-install.  I would go further and advise a clean wipe of the drive first, meaning you will need to back up any important data beforehand.

As to buying a new one, see if you can hold off for a few months; there is some hope (wishful thinking perhaps?) of new versions of the Mac Mini.  If there is money to buy one and there is pressure to do it now, look at the mid level Mac Mini with a fusion drive at the very least.  That is what I bought for home and I have found it quite zippy.
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
Could I use some other third-party screenshot software to overcome this problem? Do you know any nice, convenient tools for screenshots?
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
No need for 3rd party software, which will only slow down the computer even more.  Instead, use the built-in keyboard shortcuts:

SHIFT-CMD-4 gets you into the proper mode.  From there you can:
-  take a screenshot of any segment of the screen
-  take a screenshot of a window
-  take a screenshot of a menu

Read more here:
https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201361
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
Tim, thank you but it takes very long for those screenshots to appear on the system and to have access to them (the way you said - this post is about that). That is why I am trying to replace it or fix it.
serialbandCommented:
I suspect that any 3rd party tool will have the same problem.  The underlying slowness may be due to disk corruption, maybe the sync tracks, or something related, or possibly due to some user profile issues.  First, try to fix that.  To test if it's related to some disk system, grab your screenshot to the clipboard with command control shift 4.  If that's fast, then something's wrong with your disk.  If not, then something's wrong with your user profile.
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
I went back and reviewed the entire thread as it is getting long.

1)  User has slow desktop response in his profile

2)  Similar issues have been seen on other Macs with 10.9 and 10.10 but NOT all older macs.  I could not find an indication of which O/S the affected computer has.

3)  You have reported that new accounts are not necessarily the answer:

by:Tom Skowyrski
Comment posted
2018-05-21
Comment Utility
It works fine under new account.


by:Tom Skowyrski
Comment posted
4d ago
Comment Utility
I created brand new account which did not have Cleanmymac or other software like Dropbox running and the screenshots are still taking awfully long to come up on the Desktop even though there is nothing on the Desktop.


4)  There are some programs that might have caused issues for that user.  Not sure.

5)  Advice has ranged from just use a new profile to wipe the drive a start from fresh.


At this point, I would not recommend taking more time on debugging the issue.  Just collect all the data from all the users and start fresh with the currently installed O/S.  Then, test with an account.  

Once done, the machine can be upgraded to High Sierra via the App Store if you wish.  You could also short circuit the process and create a bootable USB memory stick with the High Sierra installer on it.

I would recommend that no unnecessary software be installed once it is running the way you like it.
Tom SkowyrskiAuthor Commented:
That is my conclusion too - thanks a million for summing it up. I already emailed the user about it. I will go for re-installing it but cannot go for the latest OS as they have some software which does not work with the latest Mac OS.
Shall I assign points between yourself (Tim Lapin) and serialband??
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)Commented:
Ah, now that question is one that can only be decided by the author.   :-)
If you feel that we both helped you materially then by all means split the points.
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