How to fix a grayed out folder on the Mac

29 Aug

I have a lot of data and I often find myself copying massive amounts of data from one drive to another. Sometimes during this process, a copy will go bad and will stop. For whatever reason, after I get back to the Finder on my Mac the folder I was attempting to copy is grayed out and inaccessible. It’s very annoying, especially if I’ve copied 700GB of 1.1TB as I don’t want to start the copy process all over again.

What happened? Well, your Mac knows something went wrong so it sets the date the Macintosh was first introduced, January 24, 1984.

So how do you fix the problem?

Change the date of the folder to today or something more reasonable than 1984.

I found two ways to do this after a few searches online.

The first is to use XCode which I’ve found to be the most reliable but it does require you download XCode from the App Store. If you’ve already got it installed, even better.

Run this command, choose a date

SetFile -d 29/08/2014 /Path/to/grayed-out-folder/

Now the folder should be normal and accessible. (You may need to close the Finder window navigate back to it again.)

Awesome!

But if you don’t want to download and XCode you can do try a few other things.

I saw online, you could try change the date by

touch -t 201408291100 /Path/to/grayed-out-folder/

This should change the date, however when I tried to do this it didn’t change the folder as it was still grayed out and inaccessible.

Another approach without XCode is to make a new folder and then move the contents of the grayed out folder into it.

Using the Terminal, go to the root location of the grayed out folder. If the grayed out folder is at /Path/to/grayed-out-folder/, then the root would be /Path/to/

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cd /Path/to/
mkdir newdirectory
mv grayed-out-folder/* newdirectory/

Hopefully this saves you some time.

15 thoughts on “How to fix a grayed out folder on the Mac

  1. Excellent! The first suggestion to change the folder’s date worked for a series of client files that various other Xcode and attr solutions didn’t fix.

    Thanks!

  2. What worked for me was :
    Step 1: open a new Note on notes app not notepad.
    Step 2: drag the folder that is greyed out on to the blank note (may take a few seconds)
    Step 3: Double click the folder and there is your files. P.S. copy the files.

  3. Do you know if this issue persists beyond 10.8? Seeing similar things with files and folders on shares. Macs connecting to DFS shares.

    • Hi, as far as I’m aware this issue does occur beyond 10.8. I haven’t connected using DFS so I’m unaware of any particular issues there.

  4. If you are familiar with command line operations, then just a simple “mv” move to a new folder should fix it. might need sudo too.

  5. I just discovered that mine was grayed out because there was an apostrophe in the folder name E.G. ” Folder Name’s “.

    Simply removing the apostrophe fixed the issue for me. Your mileage may vary.

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