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Understanding your home folder (your user folder)

From: Computer Literacy for the Mac

Video: Understanding your home folder (your user folder)

In a previous movie, we looked at the important concept of folders and files, and how this organizational system is used by you and your operating system to manage all the contents of your hard drive. Now, it's important to note that many of the folders and files on your computer are not for your use. They are there for operating system to run properly. In some cases, these files and folders are protected by the operating system so you'll be unable to move, rename or delete them. But there are files and folders you can move around if you know what you are doing, but you can also potentially damage your system if you don't. That's why your personal account on your Mac includes a Home folder.

Understanding your home folder (your user folder)

In a previous movie, we looked at the important concept of folders and files, and how this organizational system is used by you and your operating system to manage all the contents of your hard drive. Now, it's important to note that many of the folders and files on your computer are not for your use. They are there for operating system to run properly. In some cases, these files and folders are protected by the operating system so you'll be unable to move, rename or delete them. But there are files and folders you can move around if you know what you are doing, but you can also potentially damage your system if you don't. That's why your personal account on your Mac includes a Home folder.

Let's take a look at how we get to the Home folder before we learn what it is. Currently, I don't have any windows open or any applications running, and I am looking at the Mac Finder. You can see the word Finder here in the upper left-hand corner here, in the Menu bar. The current application's name is always displayed here, and the Finder is basically the way you interact with your operating system. So, to open my Home folder, I could do a number of different things. I am going to go to the Go menu, and here I can select Home. Notice there is also a keyboard shortcut listed here. If you'd like shortcuts, you can press the Command key, which is the Apple button on your keyboard, Shift+H together to open your Home folder.

I'll just select it from the Menu for now. So, the Home folder is your folder. It's where you can store all of you documents, music, photos, videos, and so on. Now, you can store the files in other parts of your hard drive, but they are very few reasons to do that. It's best to keep all of your personal files here in your Home folder so they are all located in one central place. You are also free to create additional folders in your Home folder, or within any of these other default folders, as your needs require. Even your Mac uses you Home folder to manage the files related to you. For example, the Music folder contains the music that you listen to in iTunes.

I am going to click the Left Back button here to go back to look at my Home folder. The Pictures folder contains the pictures you manage in iPhoto, and the Library folder, which you should not play around in unless you know what you are doing, is where your preferences for your various applications are stored. So, that's your Home folder. Anytime you are using an application, and you want to save a file, for example, if you are writing a paper and want to save it, you should navigate to your Home folder and most likely, save it to your Documents folder, or into a folder you've nested inside the Documents folder.

We'll talk about how to save and open files in the next chapter. For now, I just need to know where you should be storing your stuff on your Mac. Lastly, I want to offer the suggestion of adding your Home folder to your Dock. The Dock is the item at the bottom of your screen containing the icons for various applications, which you can click to open them or make them the active application. Notice this dividing line in the Dock. Items to the left of the line are applications; items to the right are folder. And you can customize the Dock with your own application, icons, and folders. Since you'll probably want to access your Home folder quite frequently, it makes sense to add it to your Dock so you can always get to it from here, instead of having to click the Finder icon and then choose Go > Home from the menu like we did earlier.

Now, to add it to the Dock, you first have to find it. I already have my Home folder open, but let's take a look where it's actually located. I am going to close this window by clicking the red Close button. Now, depending on the theme or look you've chosen, your buttons may be shades of gray, but the far left button is always the Close button. Now, to get to the Home folder for this example, I am going to choose Go > Computer. The Computer window shows you all the hard drives attached to you Mac. Unless you change the name, your main hard drive - meaning the one containing your operating system - should be called Macintosh HD.

I am going to open it by double-clicking it. For the most part, everything you see here was created by and for your operating system. The only folder you'll probably interact with here, unless you are a more advanced user, is the Applications folder, which contains the programs installed on your Mac. I can show you its contents by double-clicking it to open it. So, there are the applications I currently have installed on my Mac. I am going to click the Left Back button again to go back to the main Macintosh HD window. So, again, that's the Application folder. Don't mess around with Library or System, unless you know what you are doing.

Now, the other folder in here is Users. This is where you'll find the Home folder of every user with an account on your Mac. Mac OS X is a multi-user system, meaning each member of your household, office, or organization can have his or her own account on a single Mac. Each user's Home folders and account is protected by their own password, so your files can't intermingle with another user's. Notice I can double-click my own Home folder, and you can always tell which one is yours because it has a House icon. But if I click the Back button and try to open mordy's home folder, notice each folder in here has a little no-entry kind of symbol on it.

So if I try to open one, I get this message telling me that I can't open it because I don't have permission to see its contents. So, only you or someone with your password can get into the stuff in your Home folder, which is another reason to keep your things in your Home folder rather than somewhere else on your hard drive. All right, so let's go back so I can see my Home folder again. To add my Home folder to my Dock, I just drag its icon to the right side of the separator line - you can see the folders get out of the way to make space - and then I release. So, I'll close this window, and now anytime I need to get to my Home folder, I just click its icon in the Dock, and this menu opens up showing me its contents.

I can either browse through this menu and selects the folder I want to open, or I can choose Open in Finder, which opens to my Home folder in a window like this, which we've seen before. Okay, so that's the Home folder in Mac OS X. Again, I highly recommend you store and organize all of your personal files and other media in your Home folder.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Computer Literacy for the Mac
Computer Literacy for the Mac

55 video lessons · 23069 viewers

Garrick Chow
Author

 
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  1. 2m 49s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the assessment files
      1m 7s
    3. Using the exercise files
      33s
  2. 9m 51s
    1. What's a computer?
      1m 49s
    2. What's inside a computer?
      2m 46s
    3. Laptop vs. desktop computers
      1m 59s
    4. Special considerations when using a laptop
      3m 17s
  3. 20m 58s
    1. Understanding the operating system
      3m 3s
    2. Understanding files, folders, and directories
      4m 49s
    3. Understanding your home folder (your user folder)
      5m 21s
    4. Using your desktop
      3m 11s
    5. Taking out the trash (recycle bin)
      2m 21s
    6. The right click
      2m 13s
  4. 24m 8s
    1. Understanding applications
      4m 24s
    2. Opening and saving files
      4m 10s
    3. Choosing the right tool
      4m 44s
    4. How to learn any application
      3m 53s
    5. Five things that work in all applications
      6m 57s
  5. 36m 22s
    1. Understanding computer ports
      2m 59s
    2. Setting up a printer
      3m 7s
    3. Printing your documents
      4m 30s
    4. Setting up a scanner
      2m 27s
    5. Scanning a document
      6m 15s
    6. Setting up a projector or second monitor
      5m 56s
    7. Using a projector
      3m 43s
    8. Portable storage devices
      3m 53s
    9. Pairing with Bluetooth devices
      3m 32s
  6. 17m 27s
    1. Understanding networks and internet access
      2m 58s
    2. Connecting to wired network
      2m 36s
    3. Connecting to wireless networks
      4m 4s
    4. Working in a networked environment
      6m 15s
    5. Staying protected from viruses
      1m 34s
  7. 19m 31s
    1. Understanding email servers and clients
      2m 11s
    2. Setting up your email application
      4m 15s
    3. Receiving and reading email
      2m 21s
    4. Composing new email messages
      5m 52s
    5. Reply vs. Reply All
      2m 11s
    6. Dealing with spam
      2m 41s
  8. 8m 24s
    1. Understanding search engines
      1m 24s
    2. Conducting basic searches
      3m 51s
    3. Conducting advanced searches
      3m 9s
  9. 24m 21s
    1. Using word processors
      4m 22s
    2. Formatting text
      7m 7s
    3. Using spreadsheets
      3m 36s
    4. Creating a simple data table
      7m 37s
    5. Formatting a data table
      1m 39s
  10. 18m 53s
    1. Importing images from a digital camera
      4m 46s
    2. Storing and organizing digital images
      5m 11s
    3. Basic image manipulation
      4m 10s
    4. Tagging images
      2m 32s
    5. Sharing images
      2m 14s
  11. 10m 52s
    1. Common obstacles in sharing files
      1m 37s
    2. Creating PDFs for document sharing
      5m 35s
    3. Compressing files
      3m 40s
  12. 1m 3s
    1. What's next?
      1m 3s

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