Where’s the Library folder in Lion? [Mac OS X]

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For those of you who have upgraded to the latest version of Mac OS X since its launch last week, there are quite a few things to become accustomed to, most of which I’m beginning to be a fan of (more on that in a future post…).  One of the items I found missing from Lion is the ability to easily see the Library folder, usually found in MacintoshHD/Users/[homefolder]/ destination, clearly seen in previous Mac operating systems.

Mac OSX Lion Library Folder | Brian Nagel
The default view of the Home folder in Lion. (Click picture for larger view)

 

No Library to be seen.

Many of you have been told (even by me!) to ignore the Library folder and its contents, and that the computer will be happier in the long run.  It’s the pipework and electricity that makes up the foundation of the computer – leave it to the experts to deal with it.  However, if you’re like me and regularly manage iWork templates, Automator workflows and Services, and perform basic preference file troubleshooting tasks, I missed easily seeing it.

There are a few places on the internet that teach you how to use a Terminal command to show the folder.  But for those of us who are scared by the command line, here are a couple of quick and easy alternatives:

  1. Use the “Go to Folder…” option (Command+Shift+G), typing in ~/Library.  Boom!  There’s your Library.
  2. Hold down Option on the Finder’s Go menu.  This reveals an option to visit the Library.

Those two easy options should accommodate nearly everyone as an easy solution.  If you really need to see the Library folder all the time, use on of the above options and make a shortcut  in the Finder’s sidebar for your Library folder, or even add it as a Stack.  Enjoy!

46 Responses to "Where’s the Library folder in Lion? [Mac OS X]"
  1. Brian,
    Thank you for your help, I have a backup with time machine on external drive. I need to go as well in the backup library to pickup all files to restore on my iMac (the backup is already on Lion).
    Could you help me on this one?.

    • Hi Matt…

      I see two options:
      1) If you’re restoring from a Time Machine backup, why not restore the entire user by using the Migration Assistant in the Utilities folder? That will bring everything, including your Library folder.

      2) Use one of the options in the post to view the contents of your Library folder in the Finder, switch to Column view so you can see the path, and then drag the Library folder to your sidebar, making sure you let go when there’s a blue horizontal line so you don’t accidentally put the library folder in another location. This creates a shortcut to the Library in the sidebar, which you should then be able to see in Time Machine.

  2. this ting is driving me insane. i hate apple for doing this. I tried doing ” command+shift+G” but the Go button would not pop up anywhere, it merely highlights one of the words on this went post u wrote…. how do i get to ”Go”? please help me I’m getting impatient trying to figure out how to command on terminal(which didn’t work) and finding this ” go” button…… THANKS!!!!! really appreciate it

    • Hi Peter…

      Make sure that the Finder is active first, then both tricks will work (the very first icon on your Dock). You can also use the Finder’s “Go” menu to get to the Go to Folder… command.

      Good luck!

    • I got it up by opening FINDER first.

      My problem is, there IS no Library folder.
      I am new to mac, this is my first and it isn’t a week old yet.

      🙁

      • Congrats on your first Mac! I will say, as a new Mac user, forget the Library folder exists – you can do damage in there if you’re not careful!

  3. Thanks for the info…. very helpful .. adobe Encore cs5 put so much junk in common folder and only way to cleane it by going in library and delete it in folder..

    Thank you ..

  4. Hey,
    I am having a problem here. I tried to make visible the infamous Library folder using this:

    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES, in the Terminal.

    When I wanted to hide them back I used:

    defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

    But they do not hide again and I get the following:

    defaults[297:707] Could not write domain com.apple.Finder; exiting

    Is that a problem? Did I do something wrong? What do I do now? What does that mean?

    Some help will be appreciated… Thanks….

  5. Hello there,

    I am quite in panic here! well, don’t know if there is a reason but here is my case:

    I’ve just made visible the hidden files in Lion to find the famous Library folder using: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES, in the Terminal.

    When I wanted to hide them back using defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles NO i get the following:

    defaults[297:707] Could not write domain com.apple.Finder; exiting

    IS that a problem? Did I do something wrong? What do I do now? What does that mean?

    Some help will be appreciated… Thanks….

    • Hi Horacio…

      I will admit, I’m not one to dabble much in the Terminal. I did find a couple things to try:

      1) Instructions are here to use the Terminal to Show/Hide hidden items. The code is slightly different than what you said you used.

      2) This video shows how an app to automatically perform the Show/Hide hidden items is possible.

      Good luck!

      • Hey briannagel,
        Thanks for your reply, I tried all the options but none of them worked out 🙁 …
        Don’t know what to do.I posted a thread in different forums but not reply yet. Thank you anyway…
        H

  6. Brian,
    Thank you for your help!
    But I’m still having a problem…
    I can’t ‘see’ the folder Library>Signatures…
    Could you help me?
    Thank you!

    • You’re right – using the posted methods don’t allow you to “see” the folder, but rather view the contents. If you would like to ctually see th folder regularly, view the contents of the library and then switch to the column view (from the view menu). You’ll then be able to see the path to the Library folder and drag the folder to your sidebar. This will create a visible shortcut to the Library folder in your Finder.

      Hope that helps!

  7. None of the comments thus far have helped me. I too backed up my comp while on lion to time machine. I have my library folder on my computer now visible but i need to get junk out of the hidden library folder on my back up now. Every time i use finder to search it just brings me to my library folder on my computer. How can i get the one on my time machine visible?

    • Andrew…

      I’m not sure if I would worry about cleaning up “junk” from a Time Machine backup. Time Machine should be used simply as an insurance policy, just on case something drastic happens to your computer. I wouldn’t rely on it to be something that’s 100% searchable like the computer.

      Finder searches are meant to only search what is on the current computer – not on Time Machine. You would use the Time Machie software and that interface to search for items on the backup. A trick for that is to first visit the folder in the Finder that you want to search (ie. Library) and then enter the Time Machine software.

      Hope that helps…

      • When i said i needed to get junk out of it i meant i need to take a folder from my library folder on my time machine that has accidentally been deleted from my computer. I have tried being in the library folder on my computer then opening up the time machine through the dock and by opening my external hard drive that is used for time machine. Neither take me to the hidden library folder on time machine

        • Hi Andrew…

          Apologize for the misunderstanding. Accessing your Library folder from Time Machine should be as straightforward as the following steps:

          1) Open the Finder
          2) Hold down the Option key and click the Go menu, choosing the Library folder
          3) Go to the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and Enter Time Machine
          4) This should retain your view of your Library and allow you to browse its history, using the tabs on the right hand side of Time Machine

          Here’s an image to represent what I saw via my Time Machine, using the above steps:

          Library folder in Time Machine

  8. I’ve been trying to find the plists (to clean out iDVD which always fails) in the Library and can’t seem to find it. Any suggestions?

    • If you’ve successfully found your Library folder, you should them be able to find the plist for iDVD under the Preferences folder. Here’s an article from Apple’s support communities that also recommends another clean-up step.

  9. How can you see a library file that is on an external HDD in another user’s library (to which you have access of course)? The option+Go trick only works on the local user folder…

    • Since you have authorized access to that user, why not just login to it and manage the files that way? Then the Finder < Go method would work just fine. Another other option would be to look for a Terminal command that shows all hidden files. And I guess a third option would be to use the Finder < Go to Folder option and type in the specific path to that external drive and down to the user's library.

  10. You saved my life 🙂
    Many thanks for having taken the trouble to share your knowledge here !

  11. Hi,
    A friend of mine has an iMac and his hard drive has failed (bad blocks, does not boot Lion). I have fitted a new hard drive and installed Lion back on there but now I need to recover his data from his user account. I have plugged his old hard drive into an external caddy and luckily managed to drag and drop everything from his old user folder except his Mail folder which is in the hidden Library folder. The methods of showing the Library folder mentioned below do not show the Library folder on an external hard drive so I cannot get access to his old Mail folder. Does anyone here know how to access the Library folder in his user account on his old hard drive from the external hard drive?
    Thanks

  12. Good lord, thank you. I thought I was going to lose my mind trying to find the damned thing. What should have been a simple import of some code snippets into Dreamweaver CS6 took me over an hour, finally ending when I found your post.

  13. thank you … had been trying to do a mail merge in Word … complete waste of time … and templates had attached miles of extra pages … finally found them and deleted those user templates ..

  14. “If you really need to see the Library folder all the time, use on of the
    above options and make a shortcut  in the Finder’s sidebar for your
    Library folder, or even add it as a Stack.”

    Brian, thanks for your help, but I have some trouble with above statement. If I use either method to show my Library, I get a Finder window with the contents of the Library folder.
    How do I go from here to making a shortcut or a stack in the Dock?
    If I go up one level from the Library folder (in order to see its icon and then make a shortcut), I’m back in my Home folder and no Library icon in sight…

    Can you help us out?

    • Peter…

      The trick here is that, when you’re viewing your Library folder’s contents, switch your view in the Finder to Column view – that will show you the full path and give you the option to drag your Library folder to the sidebar or Dock as a shortcut.
      Thanks,
      ~Brian

      Sent from my iPad

  15. Or you could just go to terminal and type in the following command:
    chflags nohidden ~/Library
     Hit enter, your library folder should be permanently visible in both your macintosh hd and /users/username/library

    • Make sure you’re in the Finder, then click on the Go menu (top of screen). You’ll see your Home (user) folder there, but before you click on anything, hold down the Option key on the keyboard and you should see Library show as a choice. That will take you to your User’s Library folder

    • Make sure you’re in the Finder, then click on the Go menu (top of screen). You’ll see your Home (user) folder there, but before you click on anything, hold down the Option key on the keyboard and you should see Library show as a choice. That will take you to your User’s Library folder.

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