Three Ways to Access the Library Folder on Your Mac

Learn how to open this important folder

The Library folder contains many of the resources that installed applications need to use, including preferences, support documents, plug-in folders, and ever since OS X Lion (10.7), the files that describe the saved state of applications.

In recent versions of its operating system, your Mac has been hiding the Library folder. Here's what it is and how to find it.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and later.

The Library Folder and Troubleshooting Your Mac

The user's Library has long been a go-to location for troubleshooting issues with individual applications or components shared by multiple applications. If you haven't heard the phrase "Delete the application's plist," you either haven't been using a Mac for very long, or you've been lucky enough not to experience an application behaving badly.

It's not clear why Apple decided to hide the user's Library folder, but you have multiple ways to get it back: two Apple provides (depending on the version of OS X you are using) and one in the underlying file system. The method you use depends on whether you want permanent access to the Library folder or only when you need to go there.

How to Make the Library Visible Permanently

Apple hides the Library folder by setting a file system flag associated with the folder. You can toggle the visibility flag for any folder on your Mac; Apple just chose to set the Library folder's visibility flag to the off state by default. Here's how to change it.

  1. Launch Terminal, located in /Applications/Utilities.

    Terminal icon in macOX Utilities folder
  2. Enter the following command at the Terminal prompt:

    chflags nohidden ~/Library command in macOS Terminal app
  3. Press Return.

  4. Once the command executes, you can quit Terminal. The Library folder will now be visible in the Finder.

  5. Should you ever wish to set the Library folder back to its default hidden state in OS X or macOS, launch Terminal and issue the following Terminal command:

  6. Press Return.

How to Unhide the Library Folder the Apple Way

You can access the hidden Library folder without using Terminal, which has the side effect of revealing every hidden file on your Mac. This method will only make the Library folder visible, and only for as long as you keep the Finder window for the Library folder open.

  1. With either the desktop or a Finder window as the frontmost application, hold down the Option key and select the Go menu.

  2. The Library folder will appear as one of the items in the Go menu.

    Library folder shown in macOS Finder's Go menu
  3. Select Library, and a Finder window will open showing the contents of the Library folder.

  4. If you close the Library folder's Finder window, the folder will once again be hidden from view.

Access the Library the Easy Way (OS X Mavericks and later)

If you're using OS X Mavericks or later, you have the easiest way of all to permanently access the hidden Library folder. This is the method we use, and we recommend it for anyone who wants permanent access and isn't worried about accidentally modifying or deleting a file from the Library folder.

  1. Open a Finder window and navigate to your Home folder.

  2. From the Finder menu, click View > Show View Options.

    The keyboard shortcut is Command+J.

    Show View Options item in the View menu in macOS Finder
  3. Place a checkmark in the box labeled Show Library Folder.

    Show Library Folder checkbox in View Options panel in macOS Finder