Our thinking

Macs unable to access greyed out folders on a Windows server that is using DFS-R

I had an ongoing situation recently where some folders on a Windows server were inaccessible via the Finder – the folders were greyed out. This persisted after force-closing open file handles, and even after rebooting the server.

I did some googling and there were a number of other people having a similar issue, some were putting it down to issues with DFS – in this particular case, I was using DFS-R for replication, but not actual DFS namespaces.

There were no problems accessing the folders in question via Windows however, so as a workaround I was able to duplicate the folder in Windows File Explorer and the duplicate copy worked. I could then delete the original folder and rename the copy, and it all still worked.

I saw that some people had mentioned that when they experienced similar issues, the folders they couldn’t access had a creation date in 1984. When they changed the creation date, this seemed to fix the problem.

Although this seems very strange initially, it makes a bit of sense. When you are in the process of copying a file or folder, the copy that is in-progress has the creation date set to 1984. What I think is happening is that the Finder is seeing a folder with a date in 1984, and assumes that you can’t possibly be working with a folder that was really created in 1984, so it must be an in-progress copy. The Finder then greys out the folder name so you can’t access it.

There are a number of ways to change the creation date of files and folders, but the quickest and easiest I was able to find was a method to do it in PowerShell on the Windows server itself.

$(Get-Item './Folder Name').creationtime=$(DATE)

This PowerShell one-liner will get the attributes of the given folder, and then set its creation time to now.

If you really wanted, you could specify a particular date and time, but I was more worried about getting it working again, than trying to determine when the folder was actually created.

Please note that changing the creation timestamp on a folder may lead to it getting backed up again, increasing storage usage on your backup system.

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