A Tale Of Two Library Folders

You may come across instructions from time-to-time that ask you to access your Library folder on your Mac. But there are two such folders. One is in your Home folder, and the other is at the top level of your drive. These are used for different things. Most of the time, the Library folder you want is the one in your Home folder. Find out how to reveal it, even though it is hidden, and how to get to it quickly with a menu command.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Tale Of Two Library Folders.

From time to time as a Mac user you'll be told to look in your Library folder or do something with your file in the Library folder. So where is the Library folder?

Well, it gets complicated because there is actually really two of them. So let's take a look here by opening a new Finder window and we're looking at our Documents folder now. If we go to the Home folder, and I've got a little Home folder icon here under Favorites, but you can also go Home, you can see your user Home folder. It typically has things in it like Movies, Music, it may have documents and desktop in there unless you've turned the iCloud function on and you have those in iCloud.

But in your Home folder is a Library folder. Where is it? You don't see it. Well, it's invisible. There are a couple of ways you can get to it. One thing you can do is you can go to View, Show View Options, and you can select here Show Library Folder. Now it appears. So that's where the Library folder is. But that's only one of them.

The other one is at the top level of your computer. So we'll create a new Finder window here and we're going to use Go and we're going to go to the computer level. That shows you all of your drives. Now let's look at our main drive. For most of us it's going to be called Macintosh HD. We go in and there we can see a Library folder. So we can take a look at these side by side.

We've got a Library folder here in our Home folder that's hidden but we can reveal it. We've got a Library folder that we can see at the top level of the drive. So which one do you want to use?

In most cases you're going to be interested in the library folder in the Home folder. This will have items in it, I'll go into it, tons of different items, preferences, settings, libraries for different things all related to you as a user. These change per user. For instance, if you set some custom settings for Safari, some bookmarks, things like that, then of course if you login as another user into your machine then you're going to see different settings. So for the most part most items that you're concerned about in the Library are going to be in your user library folder.

But there are going to be things at the system library level. But when somebody says look in your Library folder or do something with a file in your Library folder, it's the user level folder, the one that's easiest to get to because it's in your Home folder, you just have to remember to make it visible.

Now an easy way to get to your Home Library folder is the Go menu. But you'll notice it's not listed there. But if you hold the Option key down it appears and you can select it and go directly to the Library folder. If you had that Option turned on where you have Show Library Folder on, then the Go menu actually shows you the Library folder and even a shortcut for it right there without holding down the Option key.

Comments: 2 Responses to “A Tale Of Two Library Folders”

    2 years ago

    Your hint works great for Sierra but I also have an old Imac with ElCapitan. Where is finder/library there?

    2 years ago

    Tom: You should still be able to access it by holding down the Option key and going to the Go menu.

Comments Closed.