Access User ~/Library Folder in OS X Mountain Lion & OS X Lion

Jul 22, 2011 - 72 Comments

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion both hide the ~/Library directory by default, the reason likely being to prevent accidental deletion of critical files that are needed for apps to run. Since most users don’t ever need to go into the Library folder, this isn’t terribly shocking, but for those of us who do require accessing our Library directories it can be a bit shocking to discover the directory is no longer instantly visible as it once was.

Fortunately, this is easy to reverse and if you wish you can switch the behavior and instead show Library all the time with a quick terminal command:

chflags nohidden ~/Library/

That permanently makes the ~/Library folder visible, and you’ll find it again in your home directory:

User Library Folder in OS X Mountain Lion

With that said, for most users that simply isn’t necessary because they won’t be accessing the Library directory or its contents enough to make it worthwhile. Instead, you can use a trio of tips to quick and temporarily access your ~/Library/ directory, while still retaining it’s default hidden nature.

Use “Go To Folder” and Open ~/Library/ Directly

All you need to do is hit Command+Shift+G from the Mac desktop (or Finder > Go > Go to Folder) and type in ~/Library to temporarily access the Library directory in the Finder. When you are done, close this window and it will no longer be visible.

Access User Library folder in Mac OS X Lion

Hold Option and Use the “Go” Menu to Show Library

Holding down the Option key will show the “Library” directory as an option in the Finders Go menu. The other nice thing about the Go menu is that after you have accessed ~/Library on multiple occasions, it will start to appear in the “Recent Folders” submenu for easy repeat access.

Access the Library directory in OS X Lions Go Menu

Access ~/Library from the Terminal

There are a few approaches to the Terminal access of ~/Library, one is to just manually manipulate the filesystem from the command line:

cd ~/Library

You can then manipulate directories or do what what you want in here. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can also just use the ‘open’ command to access ~/Library in the Finder, via the Terminal:

open ~/Library/

Thanks to Fred who left that last tip in our comments.

The next time you hear someone who just upgraded to Mountain Lion or Lion frantically ask “Where did my Library folder go??” you can show them these tips. Because this change has been persistent across all recent versions of OS X, you can expect the change to carry forward into OS X 10.9 and beyond as well. So long as there continues to be an easy way to access the user ~/Library directory though that shouldn’t be an issue.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

72 Comments

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  1. […] temporary one-off solutions are also available for quick access to User Library in Lion stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  2. uuwalnut says:

    Hold down the alt / option key while clicking on Go from the finder makes it show up in the list between Home and Computer

  3. Mist says:

    I am in /Library once a month at most, I like that it is hidden now because it means one less thing for me to take tech support calls from friends and family for, heh

  4. Chris says:

    Found this on another site (can’t remember the link). Solves the problem once and for all. Run this in a terminal window and your Library folder will reappear:

    chflags nohidden ~/Library/

  5. […] than good. Despite complaints, it’s still there in Lion, but hidden. You can access it in a number of ways, including holding Option while picking the Finder’s Go menu, or making it permanently […]

  6. akwest89 says:

    Maybe I’m wrong here, but can’t you just go through the HD instead of Finder? I found it after the Lion install to change the dock appearance again.

    …Or is it not the same thing. I just tinker, not really hardcore…

  7. Bronzit says:

    I’m hurt: My new OS X Lion install DID make the Install program disappear in a few days, but my Root Library never disappeared! I wonder why it didn’t? I have a 17″ MBP 2.8 GHz bought new last October.

  8. […] via Access User ~/Library Folder in OS X Lion. […]

  9. paul says:

    “For quick and temporary access to your ~/Library/ directory that still retains it’s default hidden nature…”

    Actually, “its” is spelled “its,” not “it’s.”

      • Steve says:

        Yes its.

        • Joe says:

          It’s is a contraction of it is. Its is the possessive form of the pronoun it. “Its default hidden nature” is correct.

          • David says:

            Many people seem to have problems with their and they’re as well, along with misuse of the apostrophe when constructing plurals as in: CPUs and CPU’s. I guess they don’t teach grammar any more…

          • Ananias says:

            Geez… seems we’re all slouching toward idiocracy. Fact is nobody CARES. If the meaning is understood nobody cares except maybe you and english professors.

            Can you read this?
            Olny srmat poelpe can.
            I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it denos’t mtater in waht oredr the ltetres in a wrod are, the olny iprnoatmt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the
            rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on !!

            I now invoke Godwin’s law and declare y’all ‘Grammar Nazis’ and by law this thread should end.

  10. James says:

    If you double click on your drive on the desktop, it’s right there as well.

    • No, James, that’s a different Library folder in your hard drive’s root folder. The Library folder that is now hidden in Lion is the Library folder in your User root folder (your Home folder, in other words). The difference is that each user has one of these (now hidden) Library folders, which affects his or her apps, extensions and settings etc. The Library folder that you mentioned, which you can still see on the hard drive, deals with system-wide settings on the computer. They are not the same thing at all.

  11. Brian says:

    The reason I need Library is that attachments to mail are stored in ~/Library/Mail Downloads. If you, say, open one by double click, edit it, and save it without changing the folder, you have to find it in Library.
    Of course, it ought not to do any of that (opening it should first save it somewhere more reasonable), but that’s the way it works now. I have to get into Library a lot. If I remember, I either save then open, or I try to remember to save to a different folder, but I don’t always remember. I do manage to change the file name most times ;)

  12. AdrianSOS says:

    And which folder is first to be backed up before re-installing OS X if not user/Library?
    Why hid Library in user folder and not in root?

  13. […] Library. – Hij lijkt weg te zijn, maar deze wordt nu automatisch verborgen. Je kunt hem op verschillende manieren nog steeds benaderen. Mocht je aanvullingen op deze lijst hebben of is één van bovenstaande […]

  14. […] Library. – Hij lijkt weg te zijn, maar deze wordt nu automatisch verborgen. Je kunt hem op verschillende manieren nog steeds benaderen.Mocht je aanvullingen op deze lijst hebben of is één van bovenstaande […]

  15. […] Alt) ולאחר מכן תבחרו ב-Library. אם אתם מחפשים דרכים נוספות, osxdaily מפרט […]

  16. […] You’ll need to have the user home Library folder shown, or you can access it one-off with the keyboard shortcut used […]

  17. […] Il fatto che la Libreria dell’utente sia stata nascosta: è comprensibile (Apple vuole impedirti di smanettare col computer, perché sa che per ogni smanettone vero ci sono cinquanta persone che hanno comprato il Mac e lo vogliono usare come un elettrodomestico, e farebbero solo casini), ed è facilmente risolvibile. […]

  18. Liam says:

    thanks so much!

  19. Thanks. This was very useful.

  20. […] OSXDaily has done a nice, simple job explaining how to make your Library folder reappear permanently via using the Terminal App in your Utilities folder. Check it ourHERE on OSXDaily.com  […]

  21. Alex Cormack says:

    You can try Funter.
    Funter is a freeware Mac utility that can show and hide hidden and system files in Mac OS X, .including the user’s Library directory defaults to hiding on Mac OS X 10.7.
    You can download it here:
    http://nektony.com/funter

    Video is also available there.

  22. Randy Dunning says:

    Oh, thank you. I knew when I upgraded that it would be hidden but didn’t need it urgently until today. The “Go To Folder” command is all I needed to access a font. Super helpful!

  23. […] for his article on moving the Microsoft User Data folder and to OSX daily for their article on showing the users library folder in OSX Lion. Tagged with: apple • folder • lion • microsoft • move • remove  […]

  24. […] it turns out the Library folder is not missing, but is hidden by default.  I came across a post on OSX Daily (Check it out!) on how to show or access the Library folder under the “Home” folder. […]

  25. […] how to make your Library folder visible (it’s hidden by default in Lion, grrrr) – iTerm 2, a terminal emulator / replacement for […]

  26. […] Note: You can recover third party fonts after the restoration by looking in your ~/Library/ directory for “Fonts (Removed)”. Here’s how to get access the ~/Library folder in OS X Lion. […]

  27. […] Note: You can recover third party fonts after the restoration by looking in your ~/Library/ directory for “Fonts (Removed)”. Here’s how to get access the ~/Library fold… […]

  28. […] first stumbling block was the lack of my Library folder! A quick search revealed that the Library folder is still there, but in OS 10.7, is now hidden by default. Rather than fiddling with that, I dropped to a Terminal to do the dirty […]

  29. Ataraxios says:

    Finder for me it’s like re lunching …it is not under control and using option+command+G that showed me finder window for a part of a second!!! please help

  30. joe says:

    None of these things work in Lion.

    • Matt says:

      Wrong, all of them work in Lion. That is why the article is titled “Access User ~/Library in OS X LION

      Read the directions before commenting inaccurately.

  31. Phil M says:

    The hidden ~/Library/ was the tip that I needed, thanks. I ran into a a little speed bump but was able to work around it by copying the old sig file name before renaming it something like “delete me” then copying the system file name (that is mapped to mail) to the HTML file I wanted to use. Then I deleted the newly named “delete me” file leaving only the HTML file with the system created file name.

    Thanks for the help. It also tipped me off for the future that Lion is hiding some folders I was used to using in older versions of OSX.

  32. Doug Munson says:

    Thanks for the “~/Library/” tip. Once there, you can ctrl click to make a Library alias, and it remains in place after leaving the User folder and coming back to it.

  33. […] you’re running Lion (Mac OS X 10.7), the user’s Library folder is hidden by default. To temporary reveal the Library folder, hold the Option key and click the Go menu from a Finder menu. […]

  34. […] user caches folder sits in ~/Library/ and contains cache files from nearly all applications that are actively used in Mac OS X. While […]

  35. […] You need to go to the "library" folder, and from there go to "application support". In order to find you "library" folder, follow these steps: Access User ~/Library Folder in OS X Lion […]

  36. […] there are a variety of ways to access the user library directory in OS X Lion, I find keyboard shortcuts to be the fastest. You can also show the library folder at all times in […]

  37. Alex says:

    Once you have it accessed you should make an alias and place it where it previously was so you can get to it like in snow leopard

  38. […] /Library/ is different than the user ~/Library/, with the former being system-wide and the latter being user […]

  39. Eric says:

    So after having many issues with Lion I backed up my files, erased the drive, took it to the apple store, and had snow leopard put back on. I even remembered to copy my user library file or at least I thought. Now I can’t seem to find it on my external drive. I tried the normal trick that would unhide it in Lion but that just takes me to my current user library – which is empty.

    Any ideas? All my iWeb work, mails, settings, playlists, etc were stored there.

  40. Dylan says:

    If you have gone on other sites and only a user that accesses ‘Library’ on a temporary basis and used the permanent terminal command, as I did. Just adjust the terminal command to

    chflags hidden ~/Library/

    Hope this helps anyone in the same boat.

  41. zamboknee says:

    By the way, this command also appears to work in Mountain Lion.

  42. […] the system sounds must be placed in the user library folder, which is hidden from Lion and Mountain Lion […]

  43. Lee Firth says:

    Thanks for this, I couldn’t work out why the Lion instructions didn’t work but finally found these instructions.

    I am flabbergasted that Apply don’t include a way to create html signatures within Mail itself. Got no idea what their rational is but I’m sure they have their reasons.

  44. […] browser to see any changes.P.P.S. To get to "YourUserName"/Library, follow this link: http://osxdaily.com/2011/07/22/a…Embed QuoteComment Loading… • Post • Embed • 24 Aug  Add […]

  45. […] setting can also be changed per-user by pointing at the user library directory ~/Library/ rather than system library /Library/, but for software updates there […]

  46. Lee says:

    Thank you so much. This is so helpful -saved my sanity returning from an old mac G4 with OS 10.4 and a miserable year with Windows 7 totally lost without seeing all folders and files laid out automatically.

  47. cynde starck says:

    I just did a search for something i knew was in my library folder and then clicked on the holding folder which was library. But all the other things work also.

    When I had the library folder showing, I dragged it into my sidebar where it used to be. Now it’s always available.

    I need access to trash preferences files when an app is acting up, mainly.

  48. a says:

    awesome… thanks

  49. arjun rampal says:

    Thanks alot…….

  50. […] in Finder by holding down the Option key and clicking the “Go” menu in Finder. Check here for more tips if you are having trouble opening the ~/Library […]

  51. GV says:

    Thank you! This was driving me crazy.

  52. […] If you have Mac OS X Lion, your library might be hidden. Follow these directions to show the Library […]

  53. macuser says:

    thankyou
    I needed it to get to a place i could not find.

  54. […] new folder action lives under ~/Library/Applications/Workflows /Folder Actions. Note that you have to do some trick or another to get at things in […]

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