Solving the mystery of OS X’s missing /Users folders


The majority of people who upgraded to OS X 10.9.3 yesterday noticed what seemed to be a strange glitch, in the form of their /Users and /Users/Shared folders disappearing. In fact, the fault doesn’t have to do with 10.9.3 at all, but rather occurs if you’ve updated to iTunes 11.2 and also have Find My Mac enabled.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround.

Launch Terminal (/Applications/Utilities), enter sudo chflags nohidden /Users, and then hit the Return key. Once this is done, you’ll be asked to enter your user password. Do this, hit Return again, and the Users folder will be visible again.

Unfortunately it’s a temporary solution, since the folders will disappear again when you reboot.

If you want both a visible Users folder and also an enabled Find My Mac (you greedy person!), here’s an additional fix. You’ll need to launch AppleScript Editor (/Applications/Utilities) and then enter the following:

tell application "Terminal"
do shell script "chflags nohidden /Users" password "yourpassword" with administrator privileges
end tell

Type your administrator’s password in place of “yourpassword,” then save the AppleScript as an application. Next launch System Preferences, select Users & Groups, click the Login Items tab, hit the plus (+) button that appears at the bottom of it, navigate to your saved AppleScript application, and then click Add. When you restart your Mac, it will run the script when the Mac logs in, thereby making the Users folder visible on Macs suffering from the problem.

However you slice it, hopefully Apple sorts this problem out soon.

  • mrmaccat

    have already gone through this “problem” in finder preferences /sidebar tab you find a check box to turn on and off the user folder in the side bar , if you want to see it in the root drive (safely) theres a free app InVisible that parks in your apple menu that turns on and off invisible items things become invisible when a dot or period is put in front of the file name this “bug” could be a typo I tried out InVisible tonight it works like a charm and as long as you don’t mess with stuff you don’t normally see there will be no ill effects (if you have multiple users the now visible users folder will be greyed out when you open it you will see your home folder lit up like christmas)

  • Jim

    Probably better and safer, all around, to use this instead (from Terminal):

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles 1

    You’ll get to see all hidden files, not just /Users and ~/Library, which might be undesirable, but I think it’s less undesirable than wonky AppleScript hacks. :-)

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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