Images missing from Desktop (OS X 10.7)

My girlfriend's Macbook Pro (10.7) is having a problem. She had stored folders full of pictures on her desktop. The images are now missing from these folders. The folders remain but seemingly linked to the issue, there are now several "?"s at the top bar of each of the folder windows. Inspecting the properties of the folders, I find that the size is mere kilobytes. Not a good sign.

I have also noticed that "Macintosh HD", if you click on it, displays a solid "?" on top of it. Clicking appears to have no effect. I only have the option to remove it from the dock.

I have taken this image from the internet. But this illustrates what I'm talking about. Each folder on the desktop remains just as it had before and several of these question marks are lined up across the bar. The Macintosh HD with "?" looks like the HDD icon with one of these icons over it.

Most have my googling has sent me to people talking about the folder with blinking question mark. This is not my issue.

Does anyone have any insight?
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  1. This link - - explains what the question mark means (a broken link), but doesn't explain why your images are missing. Clearly the two must be related.
  2. Does Spotlight not find anything when searching for jpeg etc?
  3. womble said:
    Does Spotlight not find anything when searching for jpeg etc?

    Spotlight reveals nothing new. I'm running a program, Stellar Phoenix Mac data recovery. Its only about 20% done after 12 hours.

    With the ? on the Macintosh drive, its almost like the HDD got unmounted and remounted to somewhere else. I don't know though. Mac OS isn't my strongest area. I find it very very strange though how the folder directories are all there but the files are missing.

    If anyone is wondering...yes, they're not in the trash bin. There's also items in the trash that are months old. Which leads me to believe these pictures didn't get accidentally deleted.
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