Mac OS X: Accessing Hidden Library Folders

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In this Tip's N Tricks article, I want to point out a very important tip for getting around one of Apple's more peculiar security precautions in Mac OS X Lion and Mountain Lion.  By default, the User Library folder is hidden in Mac OS 10.7 and above.  We'll cover a few different methods to easily access this hidden folder.

The User Library is home to many "under the hood" files and folders that correspond to the various Apps and system processes in your computer. The user library's location is here: Macintosh HD > Users > [YourUserName] > Library

Only one problem… The User Library is hidden From view in the latest versions of the OS. (Lion / Mountain Lion and above)

Most users won't need to get into this important folder, and it was Apple's idea to hide the folder, to prevent novice users from accidentally trashing important docs. However, for professionals and especially those users that use music applications, there are many files and folders in the User Library that we need access to.

One of the most commonly used folders in the Library is Application Support. For instance, If you need to load custom mappings for MIDI controllers in Ableton, they need to be placed in the User's Library > Application Support Folder.

There are a few easy ways to "un-hide" the Library Folder.


Temporary access to the hidden User Library

Method 1:

  1. From the Finder, select the Go menu at top of the screen, and choose Go to Folder.
  2. In the window that opens, enter ~/Library, and click Go.


Method 2:

  1. Go to the Finder (or desktop).
  2. Hold the Option key on your keyboard, and click the Go menu at the top of the screen.
  3. With the Go menu open, you'll notice that pressing and releasing Option will display or hide the Library choice in this menu.
  4. Select Library from the Go menu (while holding down Option) to access the hidden folder.


Permanently Unhide the User Library

This is a reversible process, but the folder will remain un-hidden until you run the Terminal command again.

  1. From the Finder, select the Go menu at top of the screen, and choose Utilities
  2. In the window that opens, locate and open the Terminal utility. 
  3. Enter the following text exactly as it is written. 

    chflags nohidden ~/Library/
  4. Press Enter on your keyboard to submit the entry.
  5. To hide this folder again enter the following script in to the Terminal utility:

    chflags hidden ~/Library/


Now just don't go proving Apple right and trash your important files… hands off unless you need to start digging. But when you do, this article should give you the tools to get it done.


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