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How to make your Library folder visible in the Finder in OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later

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Context

  • Beginning with Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later, the Library folder located in a user's home folder ~/Library is hidden by default.
  • This tutorial covers several methods to make the Library folder visible again.

Visible Folders in the Home Folder

Instructions

Method 1: Using the Finder's Go menu

  1. Hold down the Option key and open the Go menu in the Finder
  2. Select Library from the list of places

Your Library folder will open and you can use it as you normally would. Note that it will not be visible when you close the folder window, but you can always get to it again using Option-Go. This method will always work and requires no system modification.

Method 2: Using the Favorites section in the Sidebar

Finder windows have a sidebar with a list of Favorites, Devices, and other items. (Hint: if the Sidebar is not visible for you in Finder windows, select Show Sidebar from the View menu in the Finder.) If you use the Library folder frequently you can add it to your Sidebar like this:

  1. Hold down the Option key and open the Go menu in the Finder
  2. Select Library from the list of places
  3. Click-and-hold on the title bar of the open Library window and drag it to the Favorites section in the Sidebar

It will stay there even if you close the Library folder, and you can quickly jump to it by clicking on the favorite. If you ever need to remove it, you can Ctrl-Click on the icon in the Sidebar and select Remove from Sidebar.

Method 3: Using a Terminal command to "unhide" the Library folder

  1. Open Terminal.app. It is located in /Applications/Utilities/. You can quickly open it by selecting Utilities from the Go menu in the Finder, or by searching for Terminal using Spotlight search.
  2. Unhide the Library folder using a Terminal command. At the command prompt (usually $) enter
    chflags nohidden ~/Library

    and press the Return key. You should get the command prompt back, and your Library folder will now be visible in the Finder.
    Terminal Window
    Result:
    Library Now Visible in the Home Folder

Caveat to the Terminal command method

While it quickly restores the Library folder to its pre-Lion behavior, Apple's system updates will revert the folder to "hidden" and you will have to run the command after a system update to unhide it again. This can be quite cumbersome. To avoid this and to fully embrace the Apple lifestyle, we recommend you stick with the Go menu or Sidebar methods described previously.

Method 4: Using a Terminal command to make a persistant alias

There is another option that is persistent after OS X updates. Launch Terminal and run the following command:

ln -s ~/Library ~/LibrarE

This will make an alias in your home directory titled "LibrarE" that will take you to the ~/Library folder. Note the intentional butchering of the word "LibrarE"; you can change "LibrarE" to anything other than "Library".

Advanced tip: make it permanent

If you are a rebel at heart and refuse to play by Apple's rules, you can save command to a file and add it to your login items, so it will be run whenever you log in. A system update usually requires a logout and log in, so the Library folder will be automatically unhidden again after a system update. Note that this requires some familiarity with the command line and editing text files using a text editor such as BBEdit, TextWrangler, or emacs; or at least knowing how to save as plain text from Word or Notepad.

  1. Create the command script
    Open your text editor and create a file that contains the line chflags nohidden ~/Library. Save it with the file name unhideLibrary.command. The file name is not important, but the .command extension is, as that will default to being interpreted as a command script that opens with the Terminal program.
  2. Change permissions to make it executable
    Open Terminal.app and go into the folder you saved your script to. Run the command
    chmod 744 unhideLibrary.command

    This will make the file executable. You can test the script by double-clicking on it in the Finder. It should briefly open a Terminal window and run the command. The Library folder should be unhidden if it was hidden before.

  3. If your Terminal window stayed open...
    By default "Terminal.app" will leave its window open even after the command shell exits. You will want to change this behavior, or you'll always be left with an open but unusable Terminal window after login. Open Terminal.app and select Preferences from the Terminal menu. Then click on the Settings button and go to the Shell tab. Change the setting for When the shell exits: to Close if the shell exited cleanly. Close Settings.
  4. Add it to your login items
    Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Go to the Login Items tab and click + to add a new item. Find your script, select it, and click Add. Optionally check the Hide box next to it in the list to keep it hidden during login.
  5. Done
    That's it. The script will now run every time you log into your account. It is very quick and there's no harm in running it even if it is not necessary (because the Library folder is still unhidden) and it will keep you from having to remember to run it manually after a system update.

Exercise to the reader: there may be a better way to run a shell command at user level at the time of graphical login. If you know of one, please do mention it in the comments!

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members


Last Modified:

May 04, 2016

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