How To Locate And View Your Library Folder

Have you ever had problems locating your Library folder on your Mac? If so, let me help you locate it. There are two complicating factors. First, there are typically three Library folders on the Mac so locating the correct one can be tough. Second, Apple made one of these three Library folders invisible starting with OS X Lion (aka OS X 10.7).

Library folders store special folders that store many application and operating system resources. [Important Note: Before you touch any files in any of your library folders please have a full backup of everything on your Mac. Even then, please proceed with caution. If you’re not sure what your’e doing, please contact an Apple Consultant or schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store.] The names of the three Library folders are the System Library, Local Library and User Library.

The System Library is located at /System/Library. It stores much of the Mac operating system. This folder is locked which prevents you from messing around with it, which is a good thing.

The Local Library is located at /Library. It stores many shared resources. Just like the System Library, it’s unlikely that you would need to add or remove files from this folder.

The User Library is located at /Users/<your account name>/Library. It stores many application resources like fonts, application support files, application cache files, application preference files and many other files. This is the folder that you are most likely trying to locate if you’re trying to locate a Library folder. In an effort to prevent people from accidentally messing around with the contents of this important folder, Apple made this folder invisible starting with OS X Lion (aka OS X 10.7).

In shorthand, you’ll often see the User Library folder’s location written as ~/Library. This is in place of the longer /Users/<your account name>/Library. The tildé character, obviously, is the abbreviation for /Users/<your account name>.

Here are instructions on how to view this invisible folder.

If your Mac is running OS X Lion (aka OS X 10.7) or higher you can use this technique to temporarily view your User Library folder.

  1. Click on the Finder icon on your Dock
  2. Click on the Go menu at the top of the screen
  3. Hold down the Option key on the keyboard, you’ll see the Library is added to the items listed in the Go menu.
  4. Select Library and wait a second while the normally invisible Library folder is displayed.

If your Mac is running OS X Mavericks (aka OS X 10.9) or higher you can use this technique to permanently display your User Library folder.

  1. Click on the Finder icon on your Dock
  2. Click on the Go menu at the top of the screen and select Home
  3. Click on the View menu and select Show View Options.
  4. A new window will appear. Insert a checkmark in the box next to Show Library Folder.
  5. Your Library folder is made immediately visible within your Home folder.
  6. Click the red dot to close the window that appeared.

If you ever want to re-hide your Library folder you can return to View Options and uncheck this box.

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