Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding essential folder structure, including the home folder, part of Mac OS X Yosemite Essential Training.
- Previously in this chapter, we saw the mechanics of browsing through folders in Finder. Now I want to look at how the specific folders are organized on your system. Of course, you can make your own folders and set up your own organizational structure. But well before you start doing that, I think it's very important to understand the folder structure that already exists in OS X. There's a very specific logic to how things are organized, and it's best to get to know that structure early. Then you can start making your own folders. Now, let's assume for the moment that your computer only has one hard drive, the primary hard drive that came with the computer.
And, yes, I should acknowledge that some Macs technically don't have hard drives, some instead have SSD storage drives, but generally, people still refer to them as hard drives in this context, and they work exactly the same way. So even if your machine has an SSD drive, we're generally going to call it a hard drive. So I'm going to open up my hard drive. I'm just going to double-click on the Macintosh hard drive, here on my desktop. We saw earlier in the course, if you don't have that on your desktop, you can go into Finder, Preferences, and go to General and make sure that's turned on.
Because I do want to start with the hard drive, I'm just going to double-click that here. Since I just double-clicked on the hard drive, what I'm looking at here is called the Root. Imagine if you're looking at a filing cabinet. There's going to be lots of drawers. Inside of those drawers is going to be lots of folders, and inside of those folders, there might be smaller folders. But there's always a beginnning. And the Root is like standing there looking at the filing cabinet before you've opened anything else. By default, you should see four folders on the Root of your hard drive.
Now, I'm going to switch to the column view, because I think that's going to be a little bit easier to see what we're doing. So I'm on the Macintosh hard drive and I'm looking at four folders. Let's talk about what these folders are all about. First, we can talk about Library and System. Those are the easiest ones to talk about because people like you and me generally don't need to go into these folders. There are lots of files associated with OS X itself, the actual installation for the operating system. Generally, those are going to be in the Library and the System folders.
And there's not much you can do here, except break stuff. So I generally leave those folders alone. They do take up quite a bit of space on your hard drive, but really I don't have any business there. Next, I want to look at Applications. In the Applications folder, you're going to find all of the programs, or applications, that are installed on your computer. I can scroll through here and I can find a program that I want, and I can actually launch applications right here. So if I wanted to launch the dictionary, that's an application that I do not have in my Dock, I could come to Applications, I could double-click on Dictionary, and it'll launch that application.
I'm just going to quit that. It's interesting to see that, if you open up Launchpad, you're seeing exactly the same contents as your Applications folder on your computer. It's just another way of looking at the same thing. Next, I want to jump over to Users. Again, we're on Macintosh hard drive, in the Users folder. And I see, in this case, a whole bunch of different User folders. On your computer, you might just see one folder with your name on it, and then you're probably going to see the Shared folder.
Why do I see so many other folders? Well, that's because this particular computer is used by several authors at lynda.com to record training courses. So I can see the User folders for all of those different authors are set up here. If you set up multiple user accounts on your computer, each user will have their own User folder. Now, this User folder is mine. It has my name on it, but it also has an icon that looks like a house. We can also refer to this folder as the Home folder.
It's a very important folder. This is the folder that contains all of my stuff, my pictures, my documents, my music, everything that belongs to me, anything that's not an application and it's not a file associated with the operating system. Now, I'm not really able to get into these other User folders. I can see them, but they've got this little red icon on each of the folders, so if I do try to go into one of these folders, it's locked. I can't get into another user's folder without logging into their user account.
So I'm going to go back to my User folder, my Home folder. Inside of this, you're going to see certain folders already set up, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures and Public. I have an extra folder here called Creative Cloud Files. This was installed in my user folder when I installed Adobe Creative Cloud. So some applications will add new folders here. Let's talk about what these folders are all about. These are the folders that are here by default. I'm going to skip Desktop for just a moment.
We'll come right back to it. Documents is a folder where, generally, you should store documents. You don't have to store your documents here, but there's a lot of programs on your computer that will assume that your documents are stored here. And you can see, I've set a bunch of sub-folders inside of my Documents folder. Now, earlier in the course, we saw this option over here, Documents. This is a shortcut to the Documents folder that we were just looking at. We'll talk more about shortcuts later. But for now, since I've kind of lost my place, I'm going to close this window, open up the hard drive again, and again I'll go to Users, my Home folder, to Documents.
Downloads is a folder where files will be stored by default when you download them from the Internet. So you can see the Exercise files that I downloaded for this course are here. Later in the chapter on Safari, we'll talk more about the Downloads folder. The Movies folder is a folder where you might store some movies. If you use iMovie or Final Cut Pro, those applications will save your projects directly in this folder. Inside of Music, you might save music. But if you use iTunes, your iTunes library will be stored here by default.
And with Pictures, you can store random pictures, but if you use iPhoto or another photo management tool, your library will be stored here by default. And then, Public is what you can use to send files back and forth between different users. If I do go into one of these other User folders, you can see that the Public folder is accessible and I can drop folders here for that other user to get to. So I don't usually use the Public folder very much. This is really valuable, and it's important here to take a look at the path.
If you don't have the Path Bar visible, you can go into the View menu, Show or Hide the Path Bar. But I can see here, I'm on the Macintosh hard drive, in the Users folder, in the Nick Brazzi folder, in Documents. These are just folders nested inside of folders. It's important to know this path. You don't have to save your files in these particular folders, but it's a really good idea to do that, especially if you're using some of the backup tools that we'll talk about later in the course. A lot of backup tools will only back up the contents of your Home folder, because there's no need to back up Applications or actual OS X system files.
Now, in the Home folder, there's one other folder that's missing that we didn't talk about. And if you've used previous versions of OS X, you might be wondering, where is the Library folder? Well, most users should not go into the Library folder. Again, it's sort of like the Library folder that we see here on the Root. There's a Library folder for the user, but most users don't go in there, so they've turned it into a hidden folder. But if you do need to get into the Library folder, what you can do is, go into the Go menu here in Finder, hold the option key, and you'll see Library will appear here.
If I don't hold the option key, it's not there. But if I hold the option key, click on Library, now I'll go to this hidden folder. And, of course, you can see this is another way of getting to some of these folders. I can go to the Go menu, I can go straight to Desktop, or Downloads, or I can go to my documents, and I'll go straight there. I'm going to go back to the User folder. I can do that here just by clicking on it down here in the Path Bar. And before, we skipped over Desktop. If I click on Desktop now, there's nothing there.
I'm going to to for a moment to my Documents folder, and I'm just going to grab a couple of files here. I'll click this, I'll hold the command key and click on another, and another. I'm going to drag these files and drop them on my desktop. And now they've been moved to my desktop. If I go to my Desktop folder, I see those three files. So the contents of the Desktop folder is exactly the contents of the Desktop here. So if I grab these files here, in the Desktop folder, and drag them back to Documents, they're gone from the Desktop folder and the Desktop because they're the same thing.
Those are the folders that come set up in advance on all fresh installs of Mac OS X. I recommend you use these folders. Get used to the structure, and use them the way they're intended. Very soon, we're going to talk about how you can easily create new folders inside of these existing folders. And remember, it's kind of a bad idea to delete any of these folders. Now, if any of these folders do get deleted, there are always troubleshooting measures we can explore, so don't get too worried. But, as always, make sure you keep your data backed up, and don't delete any important folders, and things will go much more smoothly for you.
- Installing and running Mac OS X 10.10 for the first time
- Organizing your desktop
- Browsing file folders with Finder
- Creating, copying, moving, and renaming files and folders
- Launching and quitting applications from the Dock
- Using Dashboard Widgets and Mission Control
- Saving and searching
- Browsing the web with Safari
- Communicating with iMessage and FaceTime
- Using iTunes, QuickTime, and Maps
- Installing applications from the App Store
- Sharing over a network
- Backing up and restoring Mac OS X 10.10