Recently I needed to look at some of my user library files on my iMac and my MacBook, and I thought it would be easy-peasy to check them all out at once by showing the library folder. Boy, was I wrong! macOS (Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and Sierra) make it a lot more tricky to display your user library than ever before…and I had no idea until of course, I needed to see these library files.
Since I figured I would need to go there again, I decided that I want it showing up all the time as a visible folder in my user ‘s home directory.
In the past with macOS Sierra and El Capitan, I used the Terminal command “chflags nohidden ~/Library” to make my user library permanently visible. But after updating to macOS Sierra (10.12.6) then High Sierra (10.13), Mojave (10.14), and finally macOS Catalina (10.15), this Terminal command no longer appears to work!
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So here’s how I got my user library in macOS to show-up permanently in my user folder.
- First, go to Finder and select Finder > Preferences (or use Command+Comma)
- Choose Sidebar from the top list of tabs (General, Tabs, Sidebar, Advanced)
- Under Favorites, tick the checkbox next to your user folder’s name
- Close your Finder Preferences
- Open a New Finder Window (or press Command+N)
- From the left Sidebar, under Favorites select your Home Folder
- If you don’t see the Sidebar select View > Show Toolbar (or Option+Command+T)
- From the Finder Menu, choose View > Show View Options (or press Command+J)
- In the pop-up menu, select Show Library Folder
- Your user library instantly populates in your user folder
Unhide Folders to See User Library and a Heck of A Lot More!
Another command we can leverage is the Unhide Keystroke of Command+Shift+Period.
This action makes any hidden files or folders visible in your Finder, including the user library and all other hidden files. This command causes any hidden folders and files appear as shaded icons.
These files remain visible until the next time you use the command again or restart/shutdown your Mac.
To see all your user folder’s hidden files, open your user folder and press Command+Shift+Period, and all those hidden folders appear in gray.
To hide them, press that same set of keys again.
Show User Library Temporarily
If you only want to take a quick peek at your user library and don’t have a need to have it permanently visible, there’s an easy way to take a look.
- Go to Finder > Go
- Select Go to Folder (or use Shift+Command+G)
- Type this exactly: ~/Library
- Your user library opens so you can inspect the contents
- Go to Finder > Go
- Press the Option Key
- If you release the Option key, the Library option disappears from the menu
- Select Library
- Your user library opens
- Press the Option Key
Add Your User Library To Favorites!
If you decide that you want regular access to your user library folder, another method that works is opening up a temporary library window using one of the above ways and then click and hold the Library icon shown at the bottom Path Bar and drag that library icon to your Favorites column in the sidebar.
To show the Path Bar, select Finder > View > Show Path Bar (or press Option+Command+P)
To show the Sidebar, select Finder > View > Show Sidebar (or Option+Command+S)
Show User Library in OS X and earlier versions of macOS Sierra
For folks using OS X and some macOS Sierra versions, showing your user library is a bit easier!
Options to Show User Library
- Click on your Users folder, open it in Column view, and select View > Show View Options then check the box for Show Library Folder
- If Library isn’t an option, check that you’re in Column View
- Select your User folder, and press Command+ J. Then check the box for Show Library Folder
- Use the Terminal Command: chflags nohidden ~/Library/ or open ~/Library
- For temporary access to your user library
- Go to Finder > Go and press either the Option key or the Shift key and select library
- Use the keystroke shortcut Command+Shift+L
- To add permanent library access, when in your Library folder, tap and hold the Library icon shown on the top of the Finder window or at the bottom in the Path Bar and drag that icon to your Favorites column in the sidebar
What’s the User Library Anyway?
Your user library (~/Library) folder contains all your personal user settings, caches, preference files, iOS firmware updates for iTunes, app support files, iMessage and Message archive, and other essential data.
And generally, it’s not to be messed with! Making haphazard changes to your user library often results in BIG problems with your apps and with your Mac’s performance so proceed with caution.
If you’ve ever needed to delete a .plist file to troubleshoot an application, more than likely you’ve visited your user library.
It’s a folder we often access to troubleshoot problems, but it’s also kept hidden for a reason–there’s a lot of information stored there that can potentially cause a lot of damage.
For that reason, Apple decided to hide your user’s Library folder by default in Mac OS X 10.7 and all later Mac OSX and macOS releases.
- First, close all open apps
- Open Terminal by going to Macintosh HD> Applications > Utilities >Terminal
- Type in this command into the terminal window: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE
- Then, type in killall Finder
- Restart your Finder
- When you want to restore macOS hiding files, open Terminal again and type in: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE
- Followed again by killall Finder
- On macOS, you can use SHIFT+COMMAND+THe PERIOD SYMBOL (.) on the keyboard to toggle between showing hidden folders and not showing hidden folders. Command+Shift+period works everywhere but your Desktop
- Use the Terminal command: chflags nohidden ~/Library && xattr -d com.apple.FinderInfo ~/Library
- Go to Finder and select your user/home folder. Then choose EITHER Finder> View> Show View options or use the shortcut Command + J. In the View options, tick the box for Show Library Folder. Then, your user library folder should be visible for your user and home folder
- For Mac OS X, try Finder > View. Press ⌘ J and tick the checkbox Show Library Folder
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.
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