Access User ~/Library Folder in OS X Mountain Lion & OS X Lion
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 Mac 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. This tutorial will detail four different ways to access the User Library folder in Mac OS X from Mt Lion and beyond.
Easy Access by Permanently Revealing User Library Folder in OS X Mountain Lion & Lion
To access the user library folder on a Mac with OS X Mountain Lion or Lion, issue the following command syntax into the Terminal app, this will toggle the hidden aspect of the folder to be visible again.
chflags nohidden ~/Library/
Hit the return key to execute the command.
That chflags string permanently makes the ~/Library folder visible, and you’ll find it again in your home directory:
By the way, this chflags trick works to permanently show the User Library folder in macOS High Sierra and Sierra too, as well as El Capitan and other modern versions of Mac OS X system software.
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.
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 ~/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:
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:
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.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Mac OS X tips, tricks, and coverage!