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R7173: Helix Can’t Create a New Collection (-48 error)


The Problem

A new collection can not be created; Helix reports a -48 error.


When a new collection is created, Helix creates two temporary (or ‘scratch’ files) in the user’s /Library/Caches/ folder:

  1. Helix RADE Data… followed by random characters
  2. Recover_… followed by the name of the collection that was open, or the random name assigned to the new, unsaved collection.

The error is triggered when Helix attempts to create a new temporary file, but one with the randomly chosen name already exists. The -48 error is an OS error meaning that a file of that name already exists.

The Helix RADE Data files are left behind when a new collection is created, but not saved. The Recover… files are left behind when Helix is abnormally terminated while any collection is open, whether from Helix crash, system error, or power failure.

In all of these cases, the temporary files are not deleted, and the possibility exists that a future attempt to create a new collection will fail when the same random name is chosen.

The Solution

Deleting the temporary files in ~/Library/Caches/ will resolve this error.

Here are two methods of deleting the Helix scratch files:

  1. Quit Helix, then open the ~/Library/Caches/ folder and throw away all of the Helix RADE Data… and Recover… files found there.
  2. Download this script (from our free AppleScripts page) and run it to remove the temporary files. (If you have the Scripts menu active, place the script in your ‘Helix RADE Scripts’ folder for direct access from within RADE.
Special Notes

A Recover… file may be required to recover from a crash that occurred with saved collection. (The recovery file’s name ends with the name of the collection with which it is associated.) Reopening a collection immediately after a crash ensures that its Recover… file has been applied, and that — after saving and closing the collection — any remaining temporary files can be deleted.


This bug exists in all versions of Helix; its current status can be tracked through R7173 in techdb.

This bug affects Helix RADE and Helix Client, the only products that can create a new collection (or connection file) from scratch.