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All of my Finder windows show this big huge question mark, it doesn't matter which drive or directory I'm in. If I click on the question mark, it says, "The item can't be found". What is this image supposed to be, and how do I fix the error?

image of strange question mark

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

You probably dragged/dropped an application or any other file there, and deleted it in the meantime.

To find out what the item was, right-click the toolbar and select Icons & Labels to display toolbar labels. It should display the file name of the document or application you put there.

To find out the exact file path, open Terminal and enter the following, substituting name by whatever was displayed as label in the previous step:

defaults read | grep "name"

It will look somewhat like this:

$ defaults read | grep "LaunchBar"
"_CFURLString" = "file:/localhost/Users/danielbeck/Applications/";

To get rid of the toolbar item, just right-click it and select Remove Item, or hold Cmd and drag it from the toolbar.

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Thanks. I didn't realize that anything could be added to the Finder windows' toolbars. – stimpy77 Apr 16 '11 at 8:14

I had the same issue for months. With the above answers I could fix it in two steps.

Step 1. I right-clicked the toolbar on the question mark. After selecting icons & labels it showed me, at last, the name of the file that caused the problem.

Step 2. Command + click on the filename to drag it out of the window. Done!

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Now it looks like you need to hold: option + command and click; in order to drag it off of the finder window.

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