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OS X Lion: Where did my Library go?

In OS X the user Library folder is a common resource for troubleshooting, but in Lion it may appear to be missing. Here are some options for how to access it.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
2 min read

In OS X, user accounts are structured so that most user settings and resources that applications need are located in the Library folder. As a result, when troubleshooting various problems with settings and applications you may be able to fix the problem by changing something in this folder. In versions of OS X prior to OS X 10.7 the Library folder was readily accessible in the user's Home directory, but upon upgrading to Lion people are finding the Library folder appears to be missing.

The Library folder is in fact just hidden from view by default in Lion, instead of being available to easily browse through. While this may make troubleshooting some aspects of the system a little more cumbersome, it does make some sense given that most people will likely not access this folder on a regular basis (though if that's the idea, I'm surprised that the System and global Library folders still remain visible).

Apple has not made any changes to the Library folder, but instead has just made use of the Finder's "hidden" flag to block it from view. Therefore, to access the Library you have three options available to you:

Finder's Go Menu
The Library can be revealed in the Finder's Go menu by pressing the Option key.

  1. Permanently unhide it

    Since the Library folder is just hidden with a Finder flag, you can undo this flag to make it visible again. To do this, open the Terminal utility and run the following command:

    chflags nohidden ~/Library

    After running this command the Library should become immediately available, without the need to reboot the system or log out and log back in.

  2. Use the Finder's "Go to Folder" feature

    As with accessing any hidden folder in the Finder, you can use the Finder's "Go to Folder" feature by selecting it from the Go menu or by pressing Shift-Command-G with the Finder in focus. In the resulting window, type "~/Library" in the field and click Go to open the Library folder.

  3. Option-Go to the folder

The last option is new in Lion, and coincides with Lion's default hiding of the Library folder, making it much easier to access than using the "Go to Folder" option, and nearly as easy as revealing it in the Finder. All you have to do is click the Go menu and press the Option key to make the user's Library show up in the menu, and selecting it will open it in the Finder. Unfortunately there is no hot-key combination for the library, but for most intents and purposes this option will make the Library perfectly accessible.

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