Get Temporary Access To Your Mac OS X Library Folder When You Need It [OS X Tips]



The Library folder changed from being visible in Mac OS X Snow Leopard to being invisible in Mac OS X Lion. Apple decided to hide the Library folder from users to protect them from damaging the contents of that folder. Although that makes some sense from a security perspective, there are times when you need to get into that folder for troubleshooting or other reasons.

We’ve showed you how to make the Library folder permanently visible, but today I’ll show you how to get temporary access to this folder. Using this method will give you access when you need it and at the same time give the folder the protection Apple thinks it deserves.

If you need to get temporary access to the Library folder associated with your user account, this is all you have to do.

Switch to Finder by clicking on any visible desktop space and then click on the GO menu. Your screen should look like this:

Now while the GO Menu is displayed, press the Option key and it will change to look like this:

See the Library option become visible after you’ve pressed the Option key? Select it and the Library folder (~/Library) is opened in a new Finder window.

Now you’ll be able to browse, modify, change or delete the contents of the Library folder. In some cases you might have to enter a user id and password for a user with administrative rights to complete the task you are trying.

I think this is a great tip for people who don’t know enough about Mac OS X, but might need to get access to the Library folder when directed to do so by AppleCare or some other technical support organization. Keeping it hidden unless needed would protect new users from accidentally doing something harmful to their computer.

  • Guest

    holy shit this is awesome

  • Aaron

    I like it! I’ve been using the Go To Folder function and entering ~/Library

  • dcj001

    And, once you make it visible, you can drag it to the sidebar in a Finder window for quick access in the future.

  • Tzus21

    I don’t get it.  I am using Lion (10.7.2)  I have no trouble accessing Library.  I select my iMac in Finder and from the resulting window I click on Library.  What’s the problem?

  • CharliK

    I bet your computer was upgraded from Snow Leopard, or you set it up from a Snow Leopard backup where you had the Library in the sidebar. Cause the sidebar set up carries over. 

  • architectED

    This “little” tips are wickedly awesome for a noob to OSX like me!

  • CharliK

    Actually the way it makes it visible 99.9% of the time won’t allow you to do this cause you can’t see the main folder. 

    HOWEVER, nifty trick to get around that —

    Open up a finder window and put it in multicolumn. Then use the Option + Go Menu trick and the Library should appear in that folder and to the left will be the column that has your User folders, with a Library folder you can drag over to the sidebar. 

    The key to the trick is that you have to be in multicolumn first. If you open the Library and then hit the column button it doesn’t have the backtracking. 

  • Tania Huiny

    you don’t need to be in multi-column mode. when you have the library folder open in a window, drag the icon on the window top bar to the side bar.

  • Goldie20

    Was it really necessary for Library to be hidden in Lion? I mean what changed between Snow Leopard and Lion that necessitated this?

  • Hoser Man

    Not to belabor this idea, but I was traveling and was at my daughters house using her wireless network and unfortunately left my screen up and my computer screen went black and not to sleep. The next morning I woke up and I couldn’t send an email; I lost my bookmarks; my address book was gone. She had a firewall on her device. I couldn’t figure it out. So I used Time Machine to go back and reload everything I didn’t have on my screen. Guess what, I now had two system folders. Shit. I didn’t get rid of my Leopard’s two folders ’cause I didn’t know what to throw away. So when I got my new MB Air, I clean installed everything and only loaded known library files that I knew I needed. WaLa, everything is cool on my new MB Air; using the hidden folder was a snap and I’m glad that it is hidden in Lion.

  • Boris

    Thanks a lot, David.

  • Boris


  • Boris

    look closer, those two libraries are different

  • CharliK

    Another nice one.