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How Do I Get Rid Of a Third Applications Folder In Big Sur?

I have 3 Application folders on my system with Big Sur? I do not understand that and cannot delete any of them. As far as I know there should be a main one in SYSTEM and that is there and contains all OS apps and all other apps that I have added.

The one in the USER is a personal one that I seldom use. Since I am the only user of this computer I put everything in the SYSTEM Application folder.

I have a 3rd Application folder on the Mac HD. Not a subdirectory of anything. I believe it only contains apps that are a part of the operating system. I don’t remember ever having something like this and would like to delete it. It is confusing and I do not see why it is there. A couple weeks ago I accidentally deleted most of the files on my system and am rebuilding it file by file from an old backup that was a few weeks old and does not have the things I changed or added in the last few weeks, if you think that makes a difference.,

It is confusing and I would like to get rid of it. When I install new apps and direct them to the Applications folder, they go into the System/Applications as I would expect or hope.

Comments: 6 Responses to “How Do I Get Rid Of a Third Applications Folder In Big Sur?”

    3 years ago

    Is the third folder in System/Applications? That is the actual location of the applications that are part of the System, like Mail, Preview, App Store, etc. But you never need to look in there. It shouldn't be confusing because you shouldn't ever need to look in the System folder at all.

    Starting with macOS Catalina, the System is secured and read-only. That makes it difficult for malware, even if you give it permission to install on your Mac, to change the system. That's why those apps are part of the System folder.

    But macOS makes those files appear to be in your regular Applications folder so you never need to look in the System Folder.

    And you are right about your user/Applications folder. It would be for special apps that you want installed just for that one user account. Most people don't use that. Just ignore it.

    The only Applications folder you need to ever deal with is your main one, like you state. In fact, most people probably don't even look in there at all, using LaunchPad, Spotlight or the Dock to launch apps.

    3 years ago

    The user applications folder is super important. Everything you're able to install there, *should* go there, unless your Mac is setup as a multi-user system, and you want specific apps to be available to all usersā€¦ then those should go into the global applications folder.

    My next post will contain the applications paths (NSAllDomainsMask / NSAllApplicationsDirectory) officially recognized by macOS; some exist, some don't; most can be created & will be recognized by default.


    3 years ago

    User applications:
    (+ ./Demos + ./Utilities subfolders)

    Global applications:
    (+ ./Demos + ./Utilities)

    Network applications:
    (+ ./Demos + ./Utilities)

    System applications:
    (+ ./Demos + ./Utilities)

    Core applications:

    3 years ago

    Furthermore, due to macOS firmlinking, /System/Applications is mapped to /Applications, so in Finder and other file managers, those two directories are usually represented as one folder in the GUI, but not in Terminal.

    3 years ago

    I did have it backwards. /SYSTEM/APPLICATIONS contains all the OS apps and /APPLICATIONS contains those and all others that I have added. I go there to launch seldom used apps. Are you guys also saying that the OS apps are actually not in two places, but the OS makes it look that way? Thanks for your detailed answers.

    3 years ago

    Dennis: Yes, the apps are in ONE place. macOS just shows them in the main Applications folder too so you never have to look in the System folder.

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